Ok. We are sometimes lazy. We didn’t get up until 11:00 today. As the girls didn’t wake up until then either it must have been jetlag. One way to save money is to sleep through a meal.
Late start didn’t deter us from packing in a busy day. We grabbed a couple of caprese sandwiches on the road to Arezzo. Before we get into that, let me just say what millions of others have said just about every way imaginable. Tuscany is amazing. The rolling hills, immaculate fields, rustic old stone houses, walled hilltop villages- it is truly an amazing experience to drive through it, even in October.
Why Arezzo? The Chiesa di San Francesco has amazing frescoes of ‘Legend of the True Cross’ from the 1450’s. If I were a religious or art scholar, this would make sense. I am neither. I am just a man with a wife who chases pictures out of eyewitness guides. It is that simple. We are well off the beaten path on this trip and all cities within easy reach of our bases are fair game.
Arezzo is actually a quaint little town. We parked outside the ZTL and set out for the frescoes. Signs to monuments easily guided us everywhere. The Piazza di San Francesco is a great place to relax. The church dates from the 1200s and the many outdoor cafes lend appeal. While the church isn’t very ornate inside or out, the frescoes are quite stunning. Those in the back of the church are free to view while those around the alter require an entrance fee. As pictures weren’t allowed we chose to move on.
Our Sunday stroll continued. The girls sang, danced, and ran around the Piazza Grande surrounded by lovely Santa Maria Della Pieve, many charming old buildings, and a number of delighted onlookers. We moved past the piazza and our two-year-olds trudged up a steep hill to a large park. That park overlooks a large chunk of the precious Tuscan countryside. We shot a couple of pix with the girls and headed toward an outdoor cafe for a snack (which our girls were convinced was a train for some reason). After a quick coffee we headed over to the duomo which was right next door. Unfortunately there was a funeral in progress so we didn’t enter. Apart from being big, it wasn’t much to look at from the outside. We headed back to the car to pack up and head to our next stop.
Cortona. Wow. THIS is what we want to see. Cortona is a gorgeous medieval walled hilltop city. Cortona is famous as the inspiration and setting for the book Under the Tuscan Sun, (that later became a movie) written by USA writer-novelist Francis Mayes. There are spectacular views in all directions. As a few sprinkles began to fall, a few tourists fled the city which opened up some parking in the small lot outside the gate. Much of the city is a ZTL, but you couldn’t pay me to drive in this town. We walked through the twisting narrow alleyways and were transported back in time. We were near starved so we sought out a local ristorante to fill our bellies. Unfortunately, there is only so much time in a day. It was near sunset when we arrived so we were barely able to get a feel for this gem of a city before it was time to leave. We would have been quite limited in what we could explore by the hilliness of the village. There are far too many steps and inclines to make navigation with a twin stroller possible. There is much too see and do in Cortona, but it will have to wait for a future trip.