God sometimes gives us unexpected gifts. Our gift has been a grandson who enlivens our lives and makes retirement very different than the one we anticipated. He is a special joy. And that's "Casey." In 2006 we fulfilled our dream of living in Italy for a year. It was every bit as wonderful as anticipated. This blog begins in 2005 as we prepared for that experience. Since then we have explored many places together. That's the "Travel." And finally, I am a person of opinions--spiritually, politically, on just about anything and that's the "Other Stuff." Welcome to my blog.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cortona--Fun Times

When we were beginning the arduous planning for our year in Italy, Cortona was one of the places we considered. We had visited the town twice on previous trips and liked it; plus, I had a friend from SlowTravel who not only lived there but had a son Casey's age which was important to us. Ale, my friend, even scouted out a of couple apartments for us. But...we ended up in Greve instead.

Now, five years later, we finally got our boys together and within minutes of meeting a true friendship formed. Ale and I ended up saying "they're like the same person in two bodies" because their interests and likes seem/are so much alike. Matteo is older than Casey by just two weeks. What a friendship they would have had if we had lived there. Now Cortona will be a prescribed stop on future pilgrimages to Italy.

Matteo for Casey...

and Ale for me.

Alessandra (Ale) is a warm, fun, energetic, engaging woman. Also ...opinionated, out-spoken and multi-faceted. In other words, my kind of person. I would have thoroughly enjoyed her friendship if we had chosen Cortona as our home that year. Maybe we should think of doing an encore.

Ale has just been included in a list of the 100 best cooking schools in Italy --sorry, but I forget which magazine. Considering that there are hundreds of cooking schools in Italy, this is quite an honor. She is good. I spoke with a couple who had taken one of her lessons and they totally raved about her. In their journal they have included The section "things we have learned from Alessandra." I suggested they start a blog and list these so others could benefit.

Alessandra also has a shop in Cortona, Girasole which features jewelry and artifacts fashioned after that in the Etruscan Museum in the palazzo across the street from her shop. Her jewelry is featured in the National Geographic catalogue--pretty impressive.

Her shop also has beautiful linens which are reproductions of that of the renaissance, terracotta articles and items reflective of Tuscsany. It's difficult to peruse her shop and leave empty handed--I can't. Several years ago I bought Etruscan jewelry. This time it was unique Tuscan motif jewelry..and, sale and pepe grinders with bronze tops which will make great conversation pieces at dinner and good menories for us.

All of Alessandra's wares are made in Italy and come from within 200 kms of Cortona. She personally knows and has selected each artisan and manufacturer featured in Girasole. Quality is the trademark.

We had two fun filled dinners and evenings with Ale, Marino and the kids, Matteo and Francesca, who is 9 and, I believe, developed a crush on teenager Casey.

The first night, after dinner, we joined the music and dancing in the piazza. Well, we just listened and watched as mostly college age kids did the dancing part. We were content with our gelato and friends.

YouTube Video

The next night we had a truly one-of-kind unique Tuscan/Italian experience--the American Saloon with an authentic western decor and an equally authentic, traditional Tuscan menu.

Franco, the owner, is enamored of all things cowboy and must surely have been one in a previous life. He also raises owls. Quite a character.

Dinner was fun with a mixture of English and Italian--well, mostly Italian. We were joined by Donatella and Roberto, friends of Ale and Marino.

A fun night.

One more thing to mention. The lovely B&B where we stayed..wonderfully situated on the main street in Cortona Casa Chilenne. Breakfast includes home made pastries, eggs as you like, waffles, meats...just about anything you would want Everything about the place is top quality from fluffy towels to decor to beds to all. It even has chair lifts to all 4 floors for people who would need that service. Amazing place and delightful owners. We will return next time unless we get an apartment for a week or so.

So, you have the highlights of our time in Cortona. There was more but this is long enough. Thank you Ale, friend, for having so much time for us. a presto!

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barb cabot said...

Jane, I love this post. Friends across the continents, so meaningful. Note to self: Must visit Ale's shop! Grazie.

Susie L said...

Wonderful post Jane! I especially loved reading about Casey and Matteo's new friendship.

sandrac said...

Sounds like a really wonderful time for everyone! Cortona is a lovely town and although I only met Alessandra once, I found her to be delightful.

Anonymous said...

Looks great - we've never been to Cortona . . . hoping to 'fix' that on this trip!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the perfect spot for the 3 of you. Wish I could have been dancing in Cortona!