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swirl and savor

A Beautiful Beginning: Sunday in Toscana

Beth Ribblett

We had a great start to our trip yesterday, our first full day in Toscano. The weather was absolutely gorgeous with bright sunshine and a comfortable 70 degrees. I started with a run/hike up St. Egidio mountain using the CAI (club alpino italiano) map of the Arezzo region as my guide. The trails are very well marked and took me on a quite strenuous trek for about 2 hours.

After a quick bite to eat we joined up with the group at the villa for our tour of the upper part of Cortona with a wonderful guided tour of the Chiesa di San Niccolo from the 13th century that features two beautiful paintings by famed Renaissance artist Luca Signorelli.

Next was the trek up the hill to the beautiful church of Patron Saint of Cortona, Santa Margherita and then to the very top of the hill to the Fortezza built by the Medici in the 1500's. Stunning scenery and a wonderful look at the culture and architecture of Cortona from medieval to the renaissance, we worked up quite an appetite and walked back to the villa for our panini lunch.

A leisurely lunch featuring regional meats and cheeses (sheep's cheese rules here!) with a few bottles of Prosecco and finished off with shots of espresso, we moved on to the next activity of the day. Antonio took a group to the Etruscan Museum, while the rest of us shopped, strolled the quaint streets and of course had a gelato while we sat on the steps of the Palazzo Communale taking in the scene.

Dinner was homemade lasagna from our favorite Italian nonna who makes the best ever with many layers of thin, thin pasta sheets, a bechamel sauce and beef ragu. We topped it off with a big salad, fresh buffalo milk mozzarella and tomatoes (my favorites from Southern Italy), and ended with Vin Santo AND limoncello!

Needles to say, everyone went to bed relaxed with full stomachs and fuzzy heads, waiting to see what the next day would bring!

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