We loved Cortona.
An iconic hilltop city in Tuscany, Cortona has everything you expect, plus a gorgeous museum that is well worth visiting even if you aren’t as excited by the Etruscans as we are.
In fact, we need to go back, the museum was so good, and it also has a connection to several tombs sites outside the city. Sadly, the opening hours for the sites are . . . erratic . . . and we didn’t make it. Darn! (Note to self: see if Louise Maciejewski is available for a tour. A half-day tour costs €120 for a group of up to 12.)
We wandered the city, window shopping. We don’t bother with shopping per se, usually settling on a magnet for our fridge to commemorate the trip. But in a tiny little shop filled with local crafts, we purchased a hand-carved and fashioned olive wood cutting board and spoon rest. Considering we use these items almost everyday, those were perfect for us.
On the door of a restaurant was the days bread service, hung by a man on a bike with a basket, piled high with his deliveries. (And its a statement about how worthless the bread is here that no one thinks to steal it. Bread in Italy is not a food, but a mechanism for sopping up the sauce. Don’t order it, don’t bother eating it, just use it as an edible utensil.)
This is a favorite town on the touring routes because of its prominence in “Under the Tuscan Sun”, so there are times when swarms of tourists move through the city. We just popped ourselves into a cafe off the beaten path and had a drink and a bite to eat until they moved on.
We ended up eating at several places here, one place was so good we went twice.
Osteria del Teatro http://www.osteria-del-teatro.it/index.php?lang=en is just off the center of town and offers typical Tuscan fare in a charmingly eccentric setting. We dropped in for lunch the first day and loved it. Two course, plus wine, for 68eu. Dinner was more elaborate (3 courses plus wine) and romantic, but still cost only 102eu.
I remember having the Pappardelle al Cacao sulla Lepre, wide ribbon noodles with cocoa on the hare: classic sauce with intense tastes and the right balance between sweet and strong. Also the Filettini di Maiale alle Mele e Caffe, pork small fillets with apples and coffee. It’s a reinterpretation of an old Medieval recipe. Tastes are melted in a pleasant presence of sweet and strong tastes. And we shared the Sfogliata di Castagne al Rosmarino, chestnut and rosemary puff-pastry cake: a revision of the ancient Tuscan ‘castagnaccio’ recipe (chestnut cake)
We felt like Osteria del Teatro had the most authentic Tuscan food, perfectly prepared. (I mean, it may be authentic, but if its overcooked I’m not going to have a good memory of it.)
Cortona was perfect and we’re looking forward to going again.