The drive from Florence to Cortona was really beautiful – the Tuscan countryside is quite spectacular (minus the semis on the highway). We arrived to “my” villa right around sunset, yet again. A pleasant surprise – the view from the villa affords a delicious vantage point for the sunset every night! The owners of the villa who live next door, Enzo and Mirella, warmly welcomed us with groceries and a bottle of Chianti. They’re incredibly kind and generous and are a big part of why I love it here. Once we got settled into the villa we walked a few doors down to La Tufa for dinner. I’m staying in a very small village of 200 called Ossaia, which is in the comune di Cortona – the larger town just a few miles away that has about 2500 residents. Ossaia is charming and quaint and small, and luckily the one restaurant and the one little “convenience store” are adorable and just a few doors down the road. I knew in advance that there was a pizzeria in Ossaia, but was completely blown away by how wonderful it is. They have an extensive menu, and the decor is lovely. Also, I got teary-eyed when I saw that they have a pizza on the menu named “Melody.” Yes, I made the right decision to come to this little pocket of Italy. The next morning we headed into Cortona. I fell in love instantly. We had breakfast at a cafe called Bar 500, the theme of which is the Fiat 500. Fun, since that’s what we were driving. The owners are a couple, the husband is British and the wife is Italian, and they chatted with us and I asked questions like “how do you pronounce…” They also serve caffe americano with extra hot water and hot milk – perfetto for us. We wandered, shopped, and sat on the stairs in the Piazza della Repubblica soaking in the sun and the sights. These two are such wonderful travel companions! We are similar in taste, pace and interests and thoroughly enjoyed exploring Italy together. I feel so lucky.
We had an amazing lunch at Trattoria Toscana. Their special of the day was tartufo, which could be added to a variety of dishes. So, of course we had pasta with truffles again, and then also ordered the prix fixe meal, which came with several courses and wine. And complimentary limoncello to finish the meal. When in Italy. Next up was the adventure of going to the grocery store so I could stock up on food given that when I returned to Ossaia I wouldn’t have a car. We found the COOP in Camucia and after some confusion with the cart system managed to stock up on groceries. And, of course, we ran into Enzo there, which made me feel right at home. We came back to the villa and dined in with bread, cheese, olives, tomatoes, and chocolate from Enzo’s family’s pasticceria. Then, we had the treat of watching Ossai’s Passione processione – a procession done every three years on Good Friday to reenact Christ’s walk to the cross. The procession started right outside our window. The pictures don’t capture it well, but it was beautiful and it seemed the whole town, and more, marched in the procession. We had an early start the next morning to head to Cinque Terre!