...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
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