The sky was a clear blue and hills were scorched brown with the distant woodlands a dark grey-green...
Our first visit to Tuscany was with a group of friends in the late 90s
at a villa in Chianti. There was one day when we needed some “us” time, so when
our friends decided to visit Volterra for the day, we opted to go visit a town
on completely the other side of Tuscany. The day trip ended up being Cortona.
From that first trip, two memories remain vividly associated with Cortona.
The first was that view over the Val di Chiana from Pizza Garibaldi. It
was early July and the sunflowers were streaking the fields yellow as Trasimeno
glittered green in the background. The sky was a clear blue and hills were
scorched brown with the distant woodlands a dark grey-green. The cicadas were
chirping in the cypresses below and the swallows above were screeching with delight
as they swooped through invisible swarms of insects. The scalding sun was
melting the tourists’ gelato faster
than they could lick it off their cones and during which they posed for their
family photos in front of the stone balustrade.
....that view over the Val di Chiana from Piazza Garibaldi.
I have seen the same view coloured a bright spring green. I have seen it
obliterated by thick fog and by endless rain.
I think my favourite impression is when dark grey clouds clouds stack themselves above the Apennines. They flash orange and blue from within, with thunder rolling a few seconds later and then, if it gets that far, that hot sub tropical rain hits the piazza, evaporating almost immediately.
The second impression of Cortona is unsurprisingly my second memory:
walking along the flat Via Nazionale, looking up and down at the picturesque
scenes that the steep side streets painted with their shadows in the strong
sunshine. The stars of the show managed to repeat themselves after each corner
without ever becoming repetitive or predictable. Perfectly positioned flower
boxes. Pointed arched doorways with the inevitable triangle that forms between
the bottom of the doorway and the sloping street below. Cats calmly grooming
themselves always just out of reach of petting hands. These streets remain a
delight, with some directions being easier than others.
...Perfectly positioned flower boxes
Pointed arched doorways
One memory reassociated itself many years later. It had been demoted to
the charming, but anonymous Tuscan Town status. Not due to its generality, but
because of the vast number of memories this part of Italy has generated for us.
This demotion, however, was addressed on the day that we first met
Alison and Nicola in Piazza Garibaldi. Our day started with a re-appreciation
of the big view as well as seeing homes in the hills above Cortona. At the end
of our day however, Nicola suggested he could drop us off at Santa Margherita
so that we could walk down through town
to where our car was. We had barely set off on the road down to Cortona when we
happily rediscovered Severini’s Stations of the Cross. We just looked at each
other and smiled broadly.
Gino Severini's Stations of the Cross
Glenn Lewis, 28/07/2020 08:31:58