Climbing Cortona.

Took a little excursion to the town of Cortona which is just east of Montepulciano. East of the “highway” A1, Cortona offers stunning views of Tuscany looking west. Originally settled by the Etruscans somewhere around the 8th century BC, and later became a Roman town. Like many of these towns we're cruising through there are plenty of enotecas to sample the local wines. We found a small enoteca/osteria that had perhaps the best selection of wines by the glass we've seen since arriving in Italy. We sampled a local Cortona wine a Syrah from Il Bosco and couldn't resist splitting a glass of the 1999 Tignanello. Enamored by the prospect of visiting the Chiesa di Santa Margherita we climbed and climbed and climbed to what seemed to be the top of Cortona hoping to get a glance at this Gothic cathedral but arriving to the doors panting and sweating from meandering the maze of uphill narrow streets only to find a local service was in process which we just wouldn't breach.

Oh well. For me the real treat was running into an elderly couple who were sitting on a bench high up on the hill gazing over the Tuscan scenery to the North. I sat down next to them for a few moments and tried in my best Italian (which is awful, by the way) to strike a conversation. Where we agreed in concept and vocabulary was bella bella (beautiful). I asked them if I could take their photo. The character and age in their skin and eyes warmed my soul better than the Tignanello as I chatted with them. Bella.

Photos: 1) elderly Cortona couple; 2) the view we all enjoyed from east Cortona heights.