Thursday 28 June
After lunch of pork rolls bought at the Camucia markets, with fresh tomatoes which we added, we drove into the town of Assisi, about 50km from Camucia. This was an absolutely delightful town which has been modernised to a certain extent in that it is very clean and tidy but it has loads of character in spite of catering for tourists. This is evident in the tacky souvenirs available as you walk up the hills. Souvenir shops are interspersed amongst gorgeous shoe shops and wooden toys and wine and foods and of course lots of duomos! The souvenirs include little models of monks and nuns on bikes or playing poker or showing strong indications of being very drunk and disorderly. They get tackier the higher you climb but really gave us a good laugh too! On the way up to The Church of San Francesco (in dedication to St Francis of Assisi) we stopped to look inside four other churches, each one showing gorgeous frescoes and stunning stain glass windows. There was one tiny little church which hardly had room for half a dozen people. Everywhere there were nuns and Franciscan Monks walking briskly along the little streets. There was a fantastic atmosphere.
We stopped at the very top to spend some time browsing inside the Basilica di San Francesco. There we discovered a lot more about St Francis of Assisi, a remarkable man. The church was amazing - absolutely huge with two levels and endless frescoes to study and the most stunning domed ceilings ever - wow! We enjoyed our afternoon thoroughly, Assisi was well worth a visit.
In the evening we drove into Cortona and returned to the little Grotto restaurant which we had discovered earlier in the week. This time I tried the truffles - delicious. It was such a superb meal that after a few wines we booked for a return visit tomorrow night - our last night in Camucia and Cortona before we drive on to another part of Tuscany.
Friday 29 June
This morning Mr B, CJ and I decided to run right to the top of Cortona. This involves running 4km uphill and I do mean UPHILLS. It was definitely a challenge. Mr B and CJ waited for me at the bends in the roads but I had little rest as I was a lot slower. However, I ran all the way even if it was painfully slowly (emphasis on the 'painfully' - phew!
Time taken: 87mins
Average pace per km: 6:4
Calories burned: 740
This was definitely good 'Six Foot' training Ewen - you should come to Italy! Everywhere we go there are hills and steps!
After reaching the top of all the hills we decided, having come this far, that we should endeavour to find 'Bramasole'. Those of you who are familiar with 'Under the Tuscan Sun' will be aware that Frances Mayes' house in the Cortona countryside was called 'Bramasole'. Yesterday we drove up and down a number of roads trying to find it but without luck. Today, by running through the shady pretty public gardens and through the other side and trying a gravel road before finding another road, we finally found it set up on the hills with stunning lovingly tended gardens and a stone wall. It was absolutely beautiful and worth those extra kilometres of effort. After this we ran back down the hills again (the easy part) and back to our farmhouse for a shower and brekkie before all of us drove back up to Cortona to visit the Museum of Academia perched on the hill. It had several levels and was mind boggling. There was so much to take in, so many artefacts to peruse on the lower floors, then on to the higher levels where there were lots of paintings, other art work, a huge bedroom with a four poster bed, mummies and at the very top the piece de resistance, a huge library with a large table, chairs and walls of ancient tomes all roped off from the public but amazing to view.
After all this culture we headed for a light lunch and a well-deserved coffee at the 500 Cafe which has photos of Fiat 500s on the walls and the waitresses even wear aprons with Fiat 500s on them - very cute! Then it was back to Camucia, another sunny day, for our very last day before heading for San Gimignano tomorrow - our next port of call for a week.