The Amalfi Coast Towns have had to impose new traffic rules due to the large number of tourists flooding the regions. The two single lane road, which was once a donkey track perched high on the cliffs hanging over into the sea is just not large enough to cope with the traffic, resulting in long queues in the summer.
The new rules will apply to the 35 km road between Vietri sul Mare and Positano.
During peak hours in peak season, drivers will have to obey a new alternate number plate system.
If your car’s number plate ends in an odd number, you will be able to access the road on odd number days. If your number plate ends in an even number, you will be able to access the road on even number days.
The system is modelled of the Pico y placa regulations in place in several congested Colombian cities.
The Amalfi regulations will apply from 10am to 6pm on weekends from mid-June 2022 through to the end of September 2022.
They will apply for all of August, and on Easter Holy Week holiday. Public buses, and taxis are exempt, as are residents of the 13 towns.
Anas – the authority which manages the roads – has also completely banned vehicles over 10.36 metres long. Caravans and vehicles with trailers will only be able to use the road between midnight and 6:30am.
You wish to travel to Italy? How do you go about it? Where do you start? Well it is easy – all you have to do is have a consultation with Passion for Italy Travel as we specialise in Italy only. An email to Contact Us is all it takes. Our travel agent consultants live in Italy and know the country intimately.
We also speak Italian and as Italy is a foreign language country – if you wish to go then try to start learning the basic words for ordering meals, saying hello and goodbye as sign of courtesy to the Italian people.
I just wish to tell you a few words about travelling in Italy. When I first arrived in Italy over 30 years ago I felt like I had come home. I just love history and old buildings so my Passion for Italy was born the day I arrived. It was so exciting hearing everyone speaking in the Italian language.
Travel has been refined since. Back then it was the time of cashing in traveller’s checks at the bank – waiting for hours in the queue. Once when I had been waiting an hour, when I arrived to the tellor, he put his little window down and was going away for a morning tea. I pleaded with him please just do me before you go, but he just walked off.
Now with all the electronic banking and travel cards, taking out currency is a slip of a card and most shops take credit cards as before it was all cash. It used to be the Lira too not Euro so you have it easy in this regard.
Also 30 years ago it was the time of little Pensione – which were what we call now Bed and Breakfast accommodation and they were so cheap. There was always a little surprise to find in those places but most of them were very good.
Unfortunately now, the time of cheap travel has ended in Italy; unless you wish to sleep in a room with back packers – yeh right. Life is too short for an interrupted sleep especially when you have so much walking to do around the historical centres of all the major towns and museums to see and tours to do.
Please don’t believe what you see on the internet – that lovely little B&B that you view, might be in a horrible location, far away from the centre and you will spend half of your precious day travelling in and out. I know an Italian who booked a seaside apartment on the internet and had to pay for a weeks accommodation up front and when the family arrived – there was no apartment there.
That inexpensive B&B might look close on google but in Italy things are different and the traffic can be bad as there are 60 million people in a very small country. Also the trains stop at 11.30 at night so a late concert could mean a fortune in catching a taxi home.
Italy has become very popular and expensive in the big cities. The secret is to get away into the small unknown towns and we can help you do that, as we know where to go and where the secrets lie – where there are no tourists even. How nice would that be? Everyone is travelling now after the pandemic. We are all wanting to spread our wings and fly.
Do you wish to go to a little village? Contact us here and we can have a little chat.
Ciao, this is Allison Spiegel with the Passion for Italy Travel New York office. At the time of this recording, Italy has opened its border to tourists from the European Union, but we are still waiting on directions for travelers from the United States. For many of us, virtual travel will be our only way to experience the treasures of Italy this summer, so today we will continue our virtual journey to another wonderful summer destination in the Campania region, the island of Ischia, off the coast of Naples.
Ischia is the largest Phlegrean island in the Tyrrhenian Sea and is often referred to as the mysterious “other” island when compared to its upscale neighbor Capri. Ischia is reachable via ferry from Naples, Capri and other points within the region. Traditionally, Ischia is more touristed by Europeans and the many Italians who have summer homes there, but the recent worldwide success of the Elena Ferrante novels and HBO series, My Brilliant Friend, has certainly put Ischia on the map.
I discovered Ischia many years ago after watching the film The Talented Mr. Ripley with Matt Damon, Gwyneth Paltrow and Jude Law. I was captivated by the beautiful cinematography portraying Italy in the 1950’s with glamourous scenes of sun-kissed beaches, lively local village life and a castle set atop an imposing mountain of rock, like out of a fairy tale. And upon visiting Ischia for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised to find that not much had changed from the time depicted in the movie. Since that first visit, we have not been able to get Ischia out of our system! When designing a trip to Italy, Ischia combines nicely with stays in Naples, the Amalfi Coast and even Rome. Each summer, I combine Ischia with Positano, which we visited virtually in Passion for Italy Travel’s Podcast #7. It is easy to get to Ischia from Positano by taking a ferry across the Gulf of Naples with a brief stop in Capri to let the day trippers off.
I am always amused at how the ferry empties out in Capri and we are left with only a handful of people, usually locals, continuing to Ischia. For those of us who know and love Ischia, it feels like a well-kept secret. When we do encounter other Americans on the island, the conversation is always the same and the guarded question ultimately is asked: “how did you hear about Ischia?” And when you learn about all that Ischia has to offer, you too will understand why this island is held so dear by those who love it.
Ischia was formed by a volcanic eruption and tourism here is unique because much of it centers around the thermal waters that visitors can enjoy throughout the island. Since ancient times, people have been traveling to Ischia for the restorative properties of the waters, which can help heal health issues such as respiratory, circulation, muscular and skin conditions. There are many thermal parks throughout the island where you can go for the day, to experience the water installations, thermal pools and beaches.
One of the beaches that is only accessible via the sea or a long set of stairs is worth a visit for those who love soaking in hot tubs. Here, the piping hot water boils up from the sea and forms thermal pools. Visitors paint their bodies with thermal mud and then submerge in the pools to rejuvenate the body and mind. After your soak, you can have a bite to eat at the seaside restaurant or you can even cook food on the hot rocks like the locals do. This park is very rustic and natural but many of the thermal parks offer upscale amenities such as changing rooms, spas and lovely sit-down restaurants.
Sometimes, you don’t have to go farther than your own hotel to experience the thermal waters of Ischia. Many of the hotels around the island have their own thermal pools and spa treatments for their guests. And hotel options in Ischia range from small, intimate bed and breakfasts to 5-star luxury hotels.
Ischia is well situated for day trips to Capri, Procida and Naples; however, once you arrive, you may never want to leave! As compared to Capri, Ischia is a much larger island. There are six towns all with their own distinct flavor: Ischia Ponte, Ischia Porto, Lacco Ameno, Barano, Forio, Sant Angelo and Serrara Fontana. The best way to travel between these towns is by taxi or water taxi, or there is also a reliable bus system that runs throughout the island.
The topography of Ischia has it all. From wide, sandy beaches, lush gardens and vineyards to Mount Epomeo, which is the highest point on the island. We were once told by a tour guide that when you look at the island, the mountain looks like a man napping on his back. We always laugh and enjoy the outline of his nose and belly especially visible from the sea.
The people of Ischia know how fortunate they are to live amongst such beauty. Years ago, I met Branka Komazec one of the guest relations specialists at the hotel we stay at on Ischia. We keep in touch throughout the year and she told me “Ischia has been my home for 20 years. It is a unique place where the green of the woods meets the blue of the sea. Exploring its most hidden paths allows me to find peace and quiet, while walking through the city streets or along the port gives me a real sense of life on the island.” I love this balance that Branka speaks of and how visitors have the ability to luxuriate in serene spots at one with the land or sea, or the option to keep quite busy as well!
There is much to see and do on Ischia, so the island certainly warrants an overnight stay. One of the main attractions is the commanding, medieval Aragonese Castle, which was built on a mountain of volcanic rock in 474BC and has a long history of conflicts between the Romans and Parthenopeans. Today, it is a privately-owned island that you can reach via the connecting bridge from Ischia Ponte. For those who have seen the Talented Mr. Ripley, this is the location where Matt Damon arrived in the fictional town of Mongebello for the very first time.
Once you reach the entrance, you will be able to take an elevator straight up to the top of the castle where there is a hotel, restaurant and café, and lovely spaces to enjoy the most incredible views of Ischia and the sea. I highly recommend dinner atop the castle but be sure to arrive in time for what I think is the most spectacular location on the island to view the sunset. The castle takes my breath away every time I see it and it is always one of the first places we go once settled on the island. The castle is visible from many points around Ischia and when the golden light of sunset makes its way across its façade, it is just magical.
Another must see on the island is the beautiful La Mortella Gardens in Forio. These gardens originally belonged to British composer, Sir William Walton and his wife, who helped to design the gardens which are built around volcanic rock and offer an exotic array of Mediterranean plants and flowers. There are also several museums worth visiting on Ischia including an archaeological museum and a mare museum about the sea, which is a way of life for the people of Ischia. Ischia is also home to the popular Ischia Film Festival held at the Aragonese Castle every June and July although unfortunately this year, the film festival had to move to a digital platform.
While Ischia is not nearly as famous for its shopping as its high-end neighbor Capri, there are still many lovely local shops to explore throughout the various villages. One of my favorite villages is Sant Angelo, which is pedestrian-only. This picture-perfect town is built surrounding a marina and has its own jetty of beach that connects the village to a small mountain of land. There is a lively piazza with plenty of outdoor cafes, and there are some wonderful shops offering locally made products. If you hire a boat for the day, I highly recommend mooring here for lunch to experience the beauty of this sweet, colorful town. Nearby are some of the most beautiful, sandy beaches on the island including one where the hot volcanic activity heats the sand to high temperatures, which many visitors use for healing purposes.
Much of the southern coast of the island feels as if it is uninhabited, as there are several miles of coastline void of the signs of civilization. You can admire the lush green hills and rocks that tumble down into the sea if you hire a boat to take you around the island. There are many grottoes your boat captain can show you were you can swim and snorkel in the sea. I love the waters off this side of the island, which often feel as if you have all to yourself.
But if the hustle and bustle of Italian life is what you are after, head to the promenade, the pedestrian- only road that connects Ischia Porto where the ferries arrive to Ischia Ponte where the castle is located. I will never forget the first time we visited the promenade. After lunch at our hotel we decided to take a walk and visit some of the local shops, but we were surprised to see they were all closed, and the streets deserted. Back at the hotel, we learned that everything closes between lunch and early evening for Siesta. Having been to Italy many times before, this was the first time we experienced Siesta, although it is observed in other regions of Italy we have since learned, such as in Tuscany and Puglia and other smaller, less touristed towns. Once evening rolls around, the promenade comes alive with people, music and families enjoying the warm night air. It is almost as if there is a nightly party in the streets that goes on well into the early morning hours, and it is not uncommon to see local families with young children out after a late dinner.
And speaking of dinner, the food on Ischia is just incredible. Here, the dishes are simple and full of fresh flavors and local ingredients from the sea and grown from around the island. The volcanic properties of the soil in the Campania region of Italy produce some lovely local wines and wonderful fruits and vegetables. Once you try a tomato from this part of the world you will understand what I mean! One of the most popular items on the menu in Ischia is Coniglio all’ischitana or rabbit.
Restaurants on Ischia range from seaside platforms to countryside spots that make you feel like you are in the middle of Tuscany. Regardless of the location, many offer incredible views all the way to Naples and Mount Vesuvius. You can have a simple meal of pizza or pasta or a meal prepared by Michelin chefs who are as adventurous in their menus as they are in their presentations. I have had tasting menus where the food looks like a work of art that is meant to be admired rather than eaten. But perhaps one of my favorite meals in Ischia was up a mountain that took two cars to get to because the roads were so narrow and steep that we had to transfer from one taxi to a smaller one. We felt like we were on top of the world, and the food wasn’t bad either!
And this podcast wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t once again talk about the people from the locations we take you to virtually. For all of us at Passion for Italy Travel, travel is not just about the places we go, but the people we meet along the way, who enhance our travel experience with their stories, their food and their history. Unlike more touristed areas of Italy, it can sometimes be difficult to communicate with the people of Ischia because many do not speak English. Yet somehow, we always find a way to communicate and get to know each other, and these are the travel experiences I treasure most, especially right now.
And when it comes to the past few months, there is no language barrier to separate us from the hardships we have all experienced. This has been a challenging time for Italy, and the people of Ischia have a bit of a unique perspective. My friend Branka says, “In a certain sense, we felt more protected living on the island, far from the main hot spots and with a sea between us.” Now that Italy is starting to open to tourists, Branka says, “It was only last week that the first tourists arrived on the island. We are coming to terms with our new normal. Hotels, restaurants and all others involved in tourism are taking the utmost precautions by following government guidelines to ensure guests are safe and can enjoy the experience of the island to its fullest.”
And Ischia really does offer a full and unique Italian experience for its visitors, which is why we love it so. It has an authenticity that can sometimes be hard to come by in the more touristed cities of Italy, which is perhaps why people feel so protective of it. Separated by the sea, it possesses an aura of timelessness that you want to bottle up and keep close to your heart. And its physical beauty is just undeniable with so many different landscapes that ultimately all lead to the turquoise waters of the sea. I hope you have enjoyed this virtual visit to another place in Italy, again, near and dear to my heart. I guess the secret is out! So, until next time, andra tutto bene – all will be ok.
Hi welcome to Episode 8 of our Passion for Italy podcasts.
I am Gemma Green Close, the director and founder of Passion for Italy Travel. I hope you are enjoying our podcasts bought to you by our wonderful PFI consultants that live over three different continents, servicing our clients online all over the world.
I am Australian and work between two offices – one in Brisbane, Australia and the other in Pozzuoli, Italy. The only disadvantage with this, is the 35 hour travel between the two countries. The Italians think I am crazy to do that flight not once but now over 32 times but hey – when you love something you will travel the earth to see it!
I fell in love with Italy the first time I stepped off the plane from Australia in Rome in 1987 with my husband and pregnant with my third son. I immediately felt like I had come home. I loved everything about it and Rome is still my favourite city in the world. There is nothing like turning the corner and seeing the Pantheon for the first time. It takes your breath away with its majesty. It is my sacred place – every year I always go and visit it when I first arrive in Roma. It is the first place I head for and it is the last place I pay homage to before I leave. It is such a magical place particularly when it rains with the open dome – the showers filter down like snowflakes through the tall center, falling gently upon the marble flooring which contains little holes through which the water drains.
I remember that first trip being stunned by the handsome looking, stylish men and women in Rome walking along Via Condotti- the street with all the famous shops like Gucci and Valentino -their clothes were just so classy, that I myself tried to copy their style and I bought a pink, cashmere cable jumper with a matching hounds tooth pink and black blazer, hoping that it would fit me after the baby was born. I wore that beautiful jumper for many winters until one day the drycleaner shrunk it to baby size and I was devastated but thereafter my then four year old continued to wear it until she grew out of it. Quality never fades.
Unfortunately today I am bit disappointed now by the fashion walking down Via Condotti one of my favourite areas, which I always visit when in Rome – it seems now to be only jeans, giubbinos- plastic coats and sandshoes – which is the standard uniform of all the Italian young people in the winter. However occasionally one can see a long haired stunner striding, along in her boots and expensive dress or a man dressed well in a gorgeous jacket matched to his beautiful leather shoes.
I love shopping in Rome because of the on-street shopping and the beautifully decorated windows. It is where I buy most of my clothes for the year. Window dressing used to be so much more magnificent thirty years ago; almost an art piece but one can still see the creatively decorated window designs, particularly in Milan and Florence in the exclusive areas. You don’t even have to buy, as it is a joy just to view the shop window; particularly at night when they are closed, due to the perfect lighting. Italians, I think, are the best in the world at lighting!
I remember once in Rome standing for a long time in front of a window trying to work out what type of shop it was, as in the front room and window, the only thing present, was a beautiful fur coat and a fountain. It turned out to be a hairdresser. Speaking of hairdressors….well that is another story…
I have continued to love everything about Italy from the first time until today. Sometimes I struggle with the chaos particularly when catching trains but that too is another story that we can help you with . I am passionate about all things Italian (hence the name of our business Passion for Italy) – the people and their language, the history, the incredible art, the majestic architecture of all variety and ranging from over 2500 years to the present day – the archaeology and of course the food and wine.
It was frustrating on my first trip not being able to speak Italian but it was not until my second trip to Italy and a tragic event that occurred that changed my life forever. I was once again pregnant and we had just touched down from Australia and I began to feel very sick. I thought initially that it was the effects of jet lag but then I had to race to the Venice hospital of St. Giovanni and Paolo, where I miscarried my fourth baby which at four months gestation, was a very traumatic experience. Afterwards, I was put into a shared ward with heavily pregnant women, no one could speak English and I could not speak Italian so I did not understand what was going on… I felt so confused, bereft and distraught. I vowed there and then, that the next time I returned to Italy, that I would be able to speak Italian to be able make myself understood. And learn I did, studying at Italian lessons and university and I am still studying the language, trying to improve my grammar and will be for the rest of my life.
The Italian language I think, is the most beautiful language in the world to listen to. It is made for poetry. There are words in Italian that one cannot translate into English. It expresses the language of the soul, of beauty, romance and love. And when I hear it beautifully spoken, it is like music to my ears and I become like Jamie Curtis in that movie “A Fish Called Wanda” well not quite, but you get my drift ha ha!
People often ask me what is my favourite part of Italy. I can truly say that I adore all of it. I have travelled to 18 of the 21 regions inspecting our Passion for Italy hotels to check them out for you our clients. Each region of Italy has its special magic. The six largest cities – Rome, Florence, Naples, Venice, Milan and Turin all have their magnificent sites. The food and wine regions the stunning seaside villages – all of them have their own flavour and specialty dishes. We want to tell you about them all. I love my home village of Pozzuoli on the sea near Naples, where I live for a couple of months each year. I consider Naples perhaps the most fascinating city as I discover it more and more.
Everyone loves Venice of course as it is the most romantic and unique city not just in Italy but in the whole world – a world run on boats, not cars, buildings constructed hundreds of years ago on wooden pylons under the water. Which artist or musician would not want to live there but for the huge crowds of tourists that now flood the small calle – the little streets. I am hoping that the large cruise ships will not be allowed to return to Venice after this Covid time so that the city and the waterways can once again return to the city it once was.
I have so many stories to tell you about my travels in Italy and our wonderful Passion for Italy Travel boutique hotels and day tours. You can see them all on pfitravel.com, Instagram @Passion_for_Italy_Travel,
please like our Facebook page, Passion for Italy to keep tuned to our podcasts or subscribe to them in your favourite podcast app.
Ciao For now.
Cortona. We all know the town now thanks to Frances Mayes’s book, Under the Tuscan Sun, and the beautiful film that followed.
It was the film that made me want to go as a young adult, but it is the town and its people that sealed Cortona forever in my heart.
Cortona is in the province of Arezzo, about an hour and a half from Florence by train or car. If time allows, we recommend staying in our beautiful palace hotel just outside city for a night or two. Soak up the highlights of the city, and then walk, relax, and discover on your own.
In Cortona, Etruscan history runs deep. Still today, people dig up Etruscan pottery in and around Cortona. In the heart of the town is the MAEC, Museum of the Etruscan Academy and the Town of Cortona.
This must-see museum is in Piazza Luca Signorelli, named for the artist from this town. Even the great Michelangelo once studied his work.
Today, there is a little sign outside the theater, Teatro Signorelli, explaining its significance for fans of Under the Tuscan Sun. Fans of the movie will remember the scene when Frances and Pavel were walking to the movie theater and studying Italian. That scene was filmed right here.
My husband and I visited Cortona only this February. I had to chuckle seeing these signs. My first visit to Cortona was only for a few hours as a quick stop on our student tour.
The one goal I had as a lover of the film was to find the restaurant where Frances and Rodney sat on the wall and she wrote the postcard looking down on market day.
“The bells of campanile remind me of time, ding, dang, dong, the bell says instead of, ding-dong. Wish you were here.”Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun Film
You know the rest!
During that visit, I had just completed my first semester of Italian. My mom called me into a shop to help her understand why the man behind the register was yelling “at her”.
I could make out enough Italian to understand he was yelling at his credit card machine, not at her.
We had a good laugh as she handed him the Euros and smiled down at her sunflower covered postcards. Outside that shop, my mom soon wandered into another and my friends were nowhere to be found.
I was on my own, but with a goal, so I struck out. Walking ever higher, the views left me spellbound.
Lago Trasimeno gleamed in the distance. Rays of sunlight pierced the sky, landing on pretty shrines and churches below. Music and bells rang up from surrounding churches.
There I was, at the top of Cortona, with God alone.
Later, I realized that I had walked straight passed that restaurant I was searching for and said a little prayer of thanks that I had missed it. Had I found it I would have missed out on one of the most treasured experiences of my life.
It felt like my very own, “segno di Dio”, sign from God of the gift that day had been.
Visiting again this February, I recognized that restaurant immediately. I had to laugh seeing that it now has a sign outside with a photo of Diane Lane and a quote from author, Frances Mayes.
My husband laughed at me shaking his head as he took my long awaited photo, sitting on that wall overlooking the piazza.
Visiting again this time, I realized that it was not only the movie or the book, it was the town itself that made Cortona so special to me. This time I wanted to learn about the city, to see those views again, and to share them with my husband.
During the winter, Cortona is quiet, and while some museums are closed, the town is a joy to explore. Arriving at the train station, we read a sign with numbers to call for a taxi.
A man saw us and came running out of the café saying he only had to finish his coffee and he would give us a ride. He turned out to be the first taxi driver listed on that sign, and such a helpful person.
As we drove up, the views just beginning to emerge, we asked where he recommended for lunch. “Tutti!”, he told us. “There is no bad food in Cortona. Every restaurant is buonissimo!!” He pointed out two famous ones, Pozzo Antico and La Grotta, but said if they are closed, we really cannot go wrong.
Deciding we should work up an appetite first, we began our ascent. Cortona is famously steep. The main road through the town, called Via Nazionale, is also affectionately known as, “La Ruga Piana” the flat wrinkle, because it is the only street that is not steep.
My direction conscious husband asked me how to get where we were going to see these views I had carried on about since we met. Not remembering the way, I simply pointed up with a guilty look on my face.
“Terrible idea, don’t you just love those?”Katherine in Under the Tuscan Sun Film
Thankfully, it is easy to walk up in Cortona, and I did remember enough to know that if we kept going up, the views would welcome us eventually. Already pealing layers, we were working up a sweat and an appetite.
A quick motion in the corner of our eyes caught our attention. It was a cat on a leash. Its owner smiling lovingly up at it as it climbed a tree. Even the cats here appreciate the views.
Continuing, we soon reached Basilica di Santa Margherita, a reverent church where it is clear that worship, and not the display of wealth or power is and has always been the most important thing.
Up the hill from the church we came upon a shrine to Santa Margherita with bronze plaque dated May 23, 1993. The words touched our hearts and captured the feeling inside the church that we were discussing that very instant.
“Devo ancora aggiungere che da molti anni ho sentito parlare della vostra Cortona come Citta di S. Margherita. Oggi per la prima volta mi trovo in questo luogo, in questa Citta meravigliosa dove tutto ci parla di Dio, la natura, le montagne, i boschi, la tradizione umana, francescana e cristiana molto ricca. Io non so se tutti gli Italiani sono cosi ricchi. Certamente lo sono i cittadini di Cortona. Vi ringrazio per la vostra accoglienza cosi cordiale, anche questo e` un segno di ricchezza.”S.S. Giovanni Paolo II
They are the words of St. John Paul II on his first visit to Cortona, translated:
“I have still to add that for many years I have heard talk about your Cortona as the City of Saint Margaret. Today for the first time I find myself in this place, in this marvelous City where everything speaks of God, the nature, the mountains, the woods, the very rich human, Franciscan and Christian tradition. I do not know if all the Italians are so rich. Certainly the citizens of Cortona are so. I thank you for your cordial welcome, this is also a sign of richness.”S.S. John Paul II
Of course, the riches he mentioned are spiritual ones, and through his words it is clear that we were not the first to feel God’s presence so strongly in this place.
At the very top of the city of Cortona stands the fortress of Girifalco, thought to have been the site of a fortress of some kind since Etruscan times. The one we see today has been built, destroyed, and rebuilt many times throughout the centuries.
During winter it is closed, but outside still offers stunning views, my favorite in town, over the sparkling Lago Tresimeno, the green hills of Tuscany in the foreground, and those of Umbria beyond the lake.
Here, the Tuscan light will melt you with its dazzling beauty.
Walking back down on the path more travelled, known as Via Crucis, we noticed the path is lined with niches. Each holds a mosaic by Italian futurist Gino Severini depicting the stages of the Cross arranged in ascending order.
The walk up this path is even more meaningful. As the heart beats faster, visions of Christ suffering on the cross serve as reminders that we are walking this path together with Him, our constant companion also on the path of life.
We still felt inspired even in reverse order, and we were certainly hungry once we reached the bottom! Caffe degli Artisti was open and welcoming, its menu written on a chalk board outside.
Oh, the food in a Tuscan winter! We settled into a small table, but the restaurant owner insisted we move to a larger one so we could be more comfortable. He seemed every bit the artist himself, presenting us with his daily creations just so we could sample them.
He brought out appetizers we had not ordered, free of charge. My plate of gnocchi with gorgonzola, pears, and walnuts was to die for and gigantic. After lunch, slices of cake were served with a smile, the same as the appetizers. “Prego!” Just enjoy.
The gentleman behind us looked over laughing, clearly filled to the brim as we were. He made a motion of wiping sweat from his forehead as he polished off his cake. We all laughed together, thanked our host with heartfelt gratitude, and wished each other a lovely afternoon.
These human moments, the connections, the people, are the magic in Italian travel. On that unseasonably warm, gorgeous day in Cortona, it was impossible to foresee that moments like this would soon be locked away.
Whatever happens, however long we must wait and however many sacrifices we all must make during these times, I hope, and I pray that we do not become so afraid of each other that we miss out on these moments of human kindness.
The warmth of laughter or a handshake from a stranger are the very breath of life that unite us as people and make us care for one another. They give us hope and comfort in happy times and unthinkably hard times.
I have every confidence that we will travel again, and though it might be different now, I hope we will still find ways to connect with the people who naturally welcome us so cordially. The same welcome given to a Pope in Cortona, they also offer to you and me. It is so touching, and so genuine.
This is a city rich in kindness, and also in art and history. Stepping into churches here feels like stepping back in time. Museo Diocesano host works by Fra Angelico, Luca Signorelli and more. The previously mentioned MAEC fascinates is visitors by the detail in Etruscan pottery, jewelry, and design.
Wine bars and restaurants welcome visitors to pop in for an unforgettable meal or a quick glass of wine. Shops offer local crafts from luxurious leather shoes and bags to artisan crafted jewelry, hand-painted tiles, or cutting boards and kitchen utensils made of local olive wood.
Those who love the film and all of Frances Mayes’s books as I do will be enchanted by the Under the Tuscan Sun walk through the town with signs describing film locations and some of the author’s own insights.
We can organize a tour of the city’s highlights to get you acquainted. Just be sure to take the time to go slowly. Visit the churches, museums, and shops, eat in a restaurant, sip local wines, and above all, talk with the people every chance you get.
Every city is different. Some overwhelm with museums to visit and others beckon you into their sparkling seas. Cortona is certainly not lacking in attractions, but it is the peace, the beauty, and gentility here that pulls on our heartstrings. A feeling that lingers.
Frances Mayes has countless quotes that I adore in her writing, but today I leave you with this one, and to dream of a place that surpasses imagination:
“I think I went to Italy initially for the art, architecture, food and history, but I stayed there because of the people in Cortona.”Frances Mayes
Contact us to plan your visit,
PFI Travel Tampa, USA Office