MOMENTS 2: MY CORTONA - NO. 1

...with only two hours sleep on a bench in the departure lounge, I boarded the plane for Pisa.

Have you ever had that mad moment when you do something crazy and impulsive and It ends up adding a completely new dimension to your life? Well my moment was seventeen years ago. I was idly scanning the newspaper one morning when a box advertisement caught my eye. ‘Glorious Tuscan farmhouse for sale, set in the hills near Cortona. ‘There was something romantic about the ad, intriguing. My father had recently died, and I could almost hear him saying ‘go and see it, Caras, you can’t take it with you,’ so within two days I had persuaded my long-suffering husband to drop me at Stansted after a party, and with only two hours sleep on a bench in the departure lounge, I boarded the plane for Pisa. After an easy flight and two train journeys, I arrived at Camucia station in the early afternoon.
I am not sure which I saw first, the house or Cortona but it was love at first sight for both of them. I will never forget being driven from the station and my first glimpse of the ancient Etruscan town on the hilltop above us.
I was struck by the exquisite architecture, the colours of the terracotta rooftops, the texture of old stone. I can remember my excitement as we came around the last bend, parked the car and walked towards the Via Nazionale. At once I was assaulted by the delicious smell of linden trees. Even my visit to the bank with its glorious muralled ceiling was an experience. Afterwards it was coffee in the square, sitting on the steps of the medieval town hall where Alison took my photograph.
I remember my first glimpse of Lago Trasimeno, leaning over the balustrade to take in the extraordinary sweeping view over the valley, and the vast expanse of shimmering water.
Now seventeen years later my seven children and step children still come to the delicious farmhouse near Cortona. We still eat under the pergola or have a lazy cocktail gazing across the pool to the mountains in the distance. We continue to be wedded to Cortona and the surrounding countryside. However impulsive that decision was all those years ago, I know my father would have approved!
Caroline Harrowby writes as Caroline Montague and her novel An Italian Affair, inspired by her research into the area in the Second World War, came out in 2019.
Countess of Harrowby, 21/07/2020 17:21:52
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