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30th Wedding Anniversary Trip

My wife and I have reserved a Villa in Terontola, which is in the Cortona area of Tuscany. We will be in that region from Nov 17 - 23 and I just wanted to know if anyone has any suggestions for exploring this region. Based on the post's I have read in this forum, we should skip Rome until another visit. We will have a car, so does anyone have any suggestions?

Thanks!!

Posted by
2000 posts

I stayed in Cortona for a week in late September. A cute little place to relax in. I wasn't really motivated to spend a lot of time driving or training to other hill towns -- though I know there are many wonderful ones. I did take a day trip to Orvieto, which has a beautiful Duomo, lots of shops selling colorful pottery, and fantastic views. It was 1 hour away on the train.
You may just want to plant yourself in the villa and relax.

Posted by
2000 posts

In Cortona I recommend taking the hike up the hill to Santa Marguerita (lovely interior and has her preserved remains on display). the art museum in the center of town is good (can't rmember the name now), the Etruscan one is Ok too, but don't miss
La Dolce Vita gelato shop on the main street.
La Trattoria Grotto, and Fufluns pizza/pasta restaurants are very good.
Wish I was there again right now enjoying all this, and the lovely views.

Posted by
8 posts

BG,
Thanks! I guess we were wondering about day trips to areas like Siena, Arezzo. Florence or San Gimignano. We don't want to feel worn out from a hectic schedule when we return but we would like to savor the area's culture, food and atmosphere. Any suggestions like yours from people who have been there would be very much appreciated. BTW - Will I have any problems finding an American beer or a nice risling wine in the area?

Thanks and Take Care,

Posted by
2000 posts

I'm not an American beer connisseur, but sampled a lot of wine in Tuscany -- whatever they have there, Not sure about Reisling, but I'm sure you will find something acceptable -- you are going there for a new experience, right? Not to re-create your homlife. Think outside the box.

Posted by
34 posts

My Fiancé and I were just engaged in Tuscany on a tiny Tuscany road between Pienza and Montepulciano, you must go to these places, incredibly beautiful. Everyone goes to Siena, which is nice, but not as authentic. San Gimignano is neat. You must take a senic drive from Siena to Montepulciano in the "Le Crete" area, the most beautiful drive I have ever seen! Orvieto which is in Umbria is great and go south a little to Civita, the best Italian hilltop town, only 2 families live there and is preserved in its Medieval character. There sits a church that was once a Roman temple and before that was an Etruscan temple. The whole town is an open air museum. Tuscany is beautiful and driving around it was the highlight of our trip to Italy! Have a great anniversary!

Posted by
4556 posts

Hi Harley,
I stayed in Cortona this spring ... great town to visit. I took a day trip to Arezzo because it was easy to get to by train. I'm not sure that I would recommend Arezzo based on your schedule. Arezzo is pretty much a city with a small central area which is nice (they filmed parts of "Life is Beautiful" there and have markers all over pointing out spots from the film). However, there are many beautiful and interesting hill towns that I would choose over Arezzo. With a car, you have lots of options. Have you been to Italy before or is this a first trip?

Posted by
8 posts

This is our first trip. We want to experience the "real" Italy as opposed to larger towns like Rome and Venice. We will probably make a trip to Florence on one day, but we really would like to see the shops, markets and sights. Do you know when the markets "farmer type" are open? My wife is somewhat worried that since we do not speak Italian (we are learning the basics) that we may well make the locals uncomfortable. Is this an issue?

Posted by
103 posts

First and foremost.. Congratulations on 30 yrs and happy anniversary!!! The small towns are utterly charming and you will be bewitched by the beauty and antiquity.. The locals will love you, as all Italians are romantic and they'll take one look at you and realize the value of a long and wonderful marriage... but one word of caution.. Reposso ( or siesta) is celebrated in all small towns from about noonish to about 3ish.. shops, open air markets etc. are shut down and the owners are home enjoying their long and wonderful marraiges...Be blessed!!!

Posted by
468 posts

Cortona is a great jumping off point for Tuscany and Umbria. We have been there five times and are going back next year.

Day trips:
Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano, Monticchiello - These towns are close together and make a wonderful day trip. There is a gravel road, "strada bianca" between Pienza and Monticchiello that is often featured on calendars of Tuscany.
Siena - wonderful hill town. easy hour to hour and a half drive from Cortona.
Florence - easiest way is to go by train. make reservations for the Uffizi and Accademia.
Orvieto and Civita - another great day trip.
Assisi - hire Anne Robichaud as a guide, we have done the Assisi and wine tasting in Spello TWICE. it's that good.
Lake Trasimeno (sp?) and Castiglione del Lago.
I have been to San Gimignano, and I'm glad I saw it but it's not my favorite.
Cortona is a great town for wandering. Lots of good restaurants too. Outside of town is Le Celle, a monastery where St. Francis stayed, it is a great place to visit

Posted by
468 posts

markets: The Cortona market is on Saturday morning and the Camucia market is on Thursday morning. The markets are great fun and it's mostly just locals. Be sure and eat some porchetta. It's yummy Italian barbecue.

Posted by
468 posts

I keep finding other questions. You will not have a problem with language. I think that you will find that the people are very warm and open and will not care if you don't speak Italian. They will try to communicate.

Posted by
8 posts

Everyone,
Great tips and information. I am attaching the website for the Villa we are staying in so that all of you have a better idea of where we will be based. Actually a family friend owns this Villa, so we know what to expect. the website is:
http://santandrea.stores.yahoo.net/

We will have a car and arrice on Saturday November 17th and depart Saturday November 24th. We would appreciate any towns, museums, markets or "must see" tips you may have from your experience.