In 1999 we came to Cortona as would be buyers of a Tuscan property and
indeed that is exactly what we did. We had done a few short trips and looked at
a number of houses, but in the summer of that year we were renting a house for
two weeks with our children and their friends in the medieval town of Poppi - over
an hour's car journey away - and had arranged to meet with Alison in Cortona to
view a house up in the mountains above.
We knew our search had ended when we saw Fondaccio, a cosy farmhouse
tucked away at the end of a long and winding gravel track. It became our
Italian home for the next fifteen years and we are eternally grateful to Alison
who enabled it all to happen.
On the same afternoon as we viewed Fondaccio, a stand out memory is an
unplanned trip up to the hospital at the top of the town: My youngest son Nic
had tonsillitis which was steadily getting worse and he needed
antibiotics. We emerged from the hospital
a couple of hours later with a prescription. By then we were all hot, weary and
almost dying of hunger. The only restaurant that could take eight of us so late
into the evening was Caffe delle Artiste on Via Nazionale. The comforting smell
and taste of those delicious pizzas brought smiles to our faces. A trip to the
hospital wasn't exactly the most romantic start but by the time we left Cortona
that day it had somehow worked it's magic on us.
So many books have been consumed over the years spent in Cortona but I
really have to choose Italian grammar books as the most memorable. I have
devoted countless hours and effort on trying to learn grammar, phrases and new
vocabulary despite being told firmly by Alison and our friend Patricia that I
should get rid of them and just listen and learn! I did get rid of some but
they have since been replaced by more of the same and sadly, there is little
I have devoted countless hours and effort on trying to learn....
There have been endless slips along the way like the time our friend Ugo
was talking to us about cooking a meal with maize which I mistook for mice (same
pronunciation). I translated to Andy, my husband, that we would be having mice
for dinner that evening! There have been others, some far too embarrassing to
Although we loved our time at our farmhouse, after fifteen years, we
made the decision to move down to Cortona for something smaller and easier to
manage. In 2015 we bought a house just off via Guelfa. From the moment we saw
No. 10 S. Agostino we both knew immediately this was the house we wanted to
Cortona is very emotionally important to us. It's not just the
atmosphere of the place or the food or the beauty of it, but the people we know
and the great friendships we have made. They play such an important part in
making Cortona the special place it is. There are so many images that come to
mind; like the times, with the handicap of language between us, we would
communicate with Ugo and Patricia by drawing on the paper tablecloths in
restaurants. It made us laugh, but it worked!
They were our first Italian instructors from whom we learned so much.
Over the years we have brought our children, parents, friends to stay
and our children now return with their own friends and children. The love for
After twenty one years of coming to Cortona, it has become more and more
important to us. It doesn't matter if it's winter, summer or spring, we just
feel part of the place whatever the seasons. We have our favourite restaurants
and cafes; Nando's for an aperativo
and insalata rustica for lunch,
Dardano's for dinner and, of course, Caffe delle Artiste will always have a
special place in our hearts.
Lunch at Nando's