Sunday is our first full day in the country and there is no better way to start than with a lovely brunch and personal tour at the spectacular Villa di Piazzano near Cortona. Start the morning on the porch with a delicious cup of Italian coffee watching the fog slowly lift off the Umbrian hills.
We gathered the troops for out 11 am reservation at the Villa. A drive down the dirt road, through the Nicconne Valley and then up and over the hills and down to the next valley over. You turn onto an Italian cypress line road that mesmerizes your way into and through the walls into the Villa.
We are always warmly greeted by the staff and then the owner, Alessandra, who welcomes us to our brunch. With the threat of rains we dined inside this year which is still a real delight. First of course we spend a little time on the terrace where we were offered a glass of Prosecco and the beauty and splendor of the grounds. We also celebrated the anniversary of Jon and Diane Whittaker!!!
The brunch is always fabulous and the setting is so beautiful. Yet, as in life, your situation can change in an instant. This year one of our travelers apparently was not feeling tip top and went outside to get some fresh air and suddenly passed out and came unconscious. We all rushed out to assist, including other guests and the villa staff. Our traveler regained consciousness and the staff brought blankets, pillows, water and cold towels to comfort our guest. Shortly thereafter the ambulance arrived but fortunately all vital signs were positive. Of course to be safe they took our traveler to the nearby hospital accompanied by one of the staff members of the hotel who graciously offered to go to translate. Fortunately later in the day our traveler was given a clean bill of health…..but what a shock it was to be in one state of mind one second and complete other a second later. Again, just like life….in other words treasure every moment and be satisfied with what this life gives us.
We are happy to say our traveler is doing fine and as I am typing this we are all on our way this morning to Assisi!
With the stress and excitement of that incident we returned to our brunch and quietly said our prayers for our traveler. With brunch completed we were given a nice tour of the villa by Alessandra and then it was off to Cortona for the afternoon.
Cortona is likely the most well known hilltown in Italy with the making of the book and then movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. I just always love the energy and vibe of this place not to mention I have many fond memories of this place with family and friends over the last 16 years. It’s always the first hill town I take my travelers to and so it definitely sets the tone for the week in Tuscany and Umbrian. I love it here…..
I get my travelers set with our restaurant spot which is new spot for my repeat travelers as I stumbled upon it last year and then we came here for one of our best dinners during our family Christmas Holiday trip – NessunDorma http://www.ristorantenessundorma.com.
With everyone set it was off to do a little shopping, photography and then blogging in a wonderful people watching spot. After 16 trips here I think I have pictures of every arch, door and geranium…. Not to mention the fact I recognize my people that I love to photograph – which happen to be the same over the years. I have captured them all growing old.
My travelers shopped as with virtually every time we come there is a street fair of local vendors and this time was not different. Throw in a Renaissance parade for a little added color and my travelers were in for a real spectacle.
Then the rain came just in time for us to go to dinner and what a treat. Isabel and I started with the truffeled quail eggs and moved to the wild venison with juniper berries and a herb polenta. Throw in a couple bottles of Rosso di Montalcino and our dinner in the cellar was set. Fabulous! I highly recommend this restaurant on your stop to Cortona.
By the time we finished dinner and left the cellar the rain had stopped and the sun was shining! Pick up some gelatos and make our way back down the hill to our cars and our drive home.
On a final note I want to personally thank the owners of the Villa di Piazzano who personally escorted my traveler to the hospital and stayed the entire course of their stay to help in translation and support. I cannot express my appreciation for this act of unselfish kindness. The Wimpole family are stellar people and friends who always, quite obviously, treat us and I’m sure every guest at their Villa, like family. You are all cherished!