Our August 2019 issue is devoted to the hill town of Cortona – the enchanting place that Frances Mayes so beautifully transported us to in Under the Tuscan Sun. Magical Cortona is also the setting for the Dream of Italy: Tuscan Sun Special on PBS stations and Create TV where host Kathy McCabe meets Frances for some incredible Cortona adventures.
Enjoy these excerpts here and become a Dream of Italy member now to read the full articles!
Cortona has “an intense sense of community,” Frances tells me in the special. She encourages newcomers to learn the town by exploring it – by hiking the Roman trails on the hillside, visiting the market every Saturday in Piazza Signorelli or having aperitivo in Piazza della Repubblica. “Inevitably,” she says, “you meet people.” We walk through Cortona, through the eyes of six locals whose passion for their town in infectious:
Excerpt: Real estate prices in the Cortona area have come down from the peak that followed the book and movie, says Alison Koetser with the Cortona International real estate agency. “Right now, it is a buyer’s market and an excellent time to invest.”
Over the years, the popularity of different options has ebbed and flowed – from homes in the countryside to nearby attached communities to homes in town. The current tide is shifting back to homes in the countryside, says Alison, who has been selling real estate since the 1990s, specializing in non-Italian clients.
“These days, if you can buy and restore a three-bedroom home with a pool within a budget of 800,000 euros,” she says, “you’re making a sound investment.”
Alison was once the type of client she now serves, having been drawn to Cortona from her native England in 1987. “The fact is Cortona is somehow unique,” she says, “people quite literally fall in love with it.”
Excerpt: Tucked just off Piazza della Repubblica, you can find classic, moderately price Tuscan comfort food in a cozy atmosphere at Trattoria La Grotta. As the name implies, meals are served in two cave-like stone dining rooms or outside in the courtyard. If you look closely at lunchtime, you might see the elderly gentleman who has been dining there every day at the same table for many years.
For starters, try the Pecorino cheese souffle topped with onion jam and orange marmalade. There’s a good selection of homemade pasta, such as pici with duck sauce. The meats include beef with rosemary and a pork chop with balsamic vinegar that’s a favorite with regulars. Roasted potatoes with rosemary are a typical side dish in Cortona, and the ones served here are stand outs. The homemade desserts include a fabulous chocolate ricotta cheesecake. For an added touch, the house wine is served in Cortona-style pottery pitchers.
Trattoria La Grotta
Piazza Baldelli, 3
(39) 0575 630271
Open Wednesday to Monday for lunch and dinner.
Excerpt: Cortona on the Move –The renowned annual international photography festival takes place from July through September. It begins with an opening event featuring panel discussions, book signings and guided tours. The photographs then remain on exhibition through September, featuring hundreds of images from dozens of photographers on display throughout town. The collaboration between the city and the festival has breathed new life into ancient, and sometimes unused, locations where the photos are juxtaposed against the historic venues. For more information, visit www.cortonaonthemove.com
Excerpt: A country residence dating to the 1700s that has been in the Papi family for generations, La Corte dei Papi sits a few miles outside of town. David Papi and his mother, Gabriella, have restored the villa, respecting its history while adding modern amenities.
The luxurious property has become a favorite for honeymooners, with 15 romantic rooms featuring huge spa bathtubs and a Turkish bath. The restaurant is located in what was once the villa’s cellar, with stone walls, a timber roof and terracotta floor tiles. In the summer, the garden adjacent to the swimming pool is transformed into an outdoor dining room. And you simply can’t miss the new event space, perfect for destination weddings and hand-painted in gold by artisans from Florence.
You can read more about this exquisite place in the June/July 2018 issue of Dream of Italy.
Via La Dogana, 12
(39) 0575 614109
Rates: Rooms start at 300€, with breakfast.