We started the day at A La Corte del Sol, originally a waystation for pilgrims in the middle ages, and now a relais in the Valdichiana, almost in Umbria, with a view in the distance of lake Trasimeno. This peaceful location became a respite for St Franciscan monks starting in the 13th century and has transitioned today to a family owned relais for guests or for special events such as weddings. We stopped there for an elegant Sunday brunch on our way to Cortona and had time to enjoy the views and lovely roses and orchards. There was a pool, a library, and extensive grounds. Our guide told us that George Clooney has stayed there!
Apparently Cortona was originally an Umbrian town that was captured by the Etruscans and then the Romans. It is close to Lake Trasimeno but we could not see the lake due to the fog. The fog, associated with the lake, has played a role in history.
Guest houses filled with the owners’ collection of antiques
Library with a view, originally an orangery
One of many fruit trees
They had orchards and gardens to support the restaurant. These grapes were delicious.
San Genovese Grapes
The juju fruit was like a miniature fig. They were ripe and tasted sweet.
An elegant setting for appetizers and lunch
After lunch we traveled to Cortona, one of the twelve Etruscan City States named ‘Corito’. You can still see some of the cyclopic stone walls. At the top of the hill there is a Medeci fortress on the site of a sacred area for the Etruscans. There were earlier peoples who were conquered by the Etruscans who were conquered by the Romans who were followed by the medieval pilgrims and lords and so on.
Santa Margherita-very simple facade
And very decorative Interior
Altar with the body of Santa Margherita, famous for starting a hospital
Lake Trasimeno view from Cortona
The eastern edge of this lake was where a battle during the second Punic War took place. Hannibal fought a Roman Army lead by consul Gaius Flaminius. This was the Battle of Lake Trasimeno where 15,000 Roman soldiers were killed. The fields where the battle took place are now called the field of bones. It is an amazing part of history.
From there we climbed through town to the Etruscan Museum (Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca) where we saw among other things an amazing Etruscan bronze chandelier.
The Etruscan language did not share origins with either Greek or Latin. They have learned a lot more about it and the Etruscans since we were in college. They can now read it and suspect the Etruscans originated somewhere in Asia minor. They were a seafaring people often characterized as pirates more than traders. They built walled cities on the top of hills. A lot has been learned about their culture mainly from the gravesites they left behind.
Narrow side streets
“newer” construction was sometimes a garderobe (Medieval toilet)
Town Hall Square was the only flat area
Impromptu Opera singer (VIDEO HERE)
Volcano at sunset on our way out of Cortona
It was another busy day.
Mark and Wink