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Report 673: Tuscan Rambles

By Doug Phillips from Canada, Spring 2004

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Page 14 of 17: Day 13 – Thursday May 13: Cortona, Giro d’Italia, Latte di Luna

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Giro d'Italia

With two days left in our holiday, my BW suggested that we revisit Cortona and Siena, both choices worked out very well.

We came upon a market in a small town below Cortona. We stopped and spent some time walking around the large number of vendors offering a wide variety of household and personal items as well as the expected food products.

We parked in the now familiar lot just outside Cortona. On our way towards the Piazza della Republica, we stopped at Margherita (Via Guelfa, 73), a store offering “prodotti tipici”. The very friendly and inquisitive owner offered us tastings and samples of a wide variety of products. There are many such stores wherever you go in Tuscany, but we enjoyed our time at Margherita.

My BW’s purpose in returning to Cortona was to re-visit some of the stores. I occupied my time in less costly pursuits. We lunched at a restaurant on the Piazza della Repubblica, where we enjoyed a conversation with an American couple on a bus tour, think Cortona was the smallest place they were going to be visiting.

After lunch, we felt privileged to witness a wedding party posing for photographs on the impressive steps of the civic building in the Piazza.

We returned to our car and started down the hill, but we soon came to a roadblock. We were unable to cross the main road. We weren’t sure what was happening, but were told by a policeman that the road would be closed for a couple of hours. Mystified, we tried to navigate around the roadblock. We drove along a secondary road for a few kilometers, passed though a small village, Ossaia, and followed a sign that took us in the direction we were trying to go. A short drive out of the village, cars were lined up along the sides of the road, and were even stopped in the driving lanes. With no options, we also stopped, got out of the car and tried to figure out what was happening. An older man who had stopped behind us approached, muttering about the “Giro d’Italia”. We finally realized that the road was closed for the multi-day national bicycle race of Italy. We had a great time waiting for the race to pass. We bought souvenirs from the advance-vans and made quick acquaintance with a couple from California. As the race neared, the four of us moved to a bend in the roadway. We could have reached out and touched the racers as they quickly passed in a period of about thirty seconds. Of course, my camera was back at the villa. The photo on this page is courtesy of “Hutch” from San Francisco.

We had time to visit a couple of recommended vineyards a short distance from our villa. The first one was Poliziano. There was a lot of construction going on when we were there. The wines may be very good but, in contrast to Valdipiatta, we weren’t impressed by our welcome. It appears that they are geared to much larger groups; everything is on a fairly large scale, including the parking lot. We sampled a couple of wines, bought one and were on our way.

Our next vineyard was Poderi Boscarelli. It is very difficult to find without exact directions. Ours included “From the centre of Acquaviva, across from the tobacconist, take the small Via delle Vecchie Mura toward Cervognano.” The small road looks like a laneway and if the tobacconist ever moves, Good Luck! I asked the young woman who greeted us if they had many visitors. “No,” she replied, “we are a bit difficult to find.” Excellent wines.

We never made it to Avignonesi, the other tenuta on our list. Next time.

In the evening we returned to Latte di Luna for our third and final dinner. This time we arrived at 8:00pm and were shown to a nice table in a quiet room on the left, no pillar and no kitchen traffic. The staff greeted us as regulars and we had a pleasant conversation with two ladies at the next table, one of whom had that day closed her business in Rome after 35 years and was moving to her “small house” in Pienza.

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