|Sunset view from the ramparts of old Cortona, Lake Trasimeno in the distance|
From there we visited Siena, Cortona, Pienza and Montepluciano - Tuscan cities/towns of such overwhelming loveliness it is really an impossible job to know where to start. The topographical location of most of the towns is mesmerising in that you see them on the skyline before you arrive. So many of the towns in Tuscany and Umbria are perched on the top of hills, terraces and fields of vines and sunflowers below punctuated by the vertical cypress trees, deep blue August skies above - Church and monastary spires the highest points. Once inside the town walls, the overwhelming impression of these hilltop towns is how entirely medieval they look, no modern buildings within the ancient town walls, peeling C14th frescos inside every religious building, bells still ringing out the hours. And being perched so high, the views from the town walls towards the open country are breathtaking.
Living in England I am used to ancient buildings, but the crumbling, unspoilt, almost unchanged feel of these places is astounding. Especially in the back streets. We loved it all. I could write a blog post about each town, but I know other people's holiday snaps can wear thin, so here are a just a few photos that give a flavour of what I loved most - not so much the main 'sights' although they are stunning, more the winding medieval streets, the views, the colours.....
|Backstreets of Siena|
Having said that, the Duomo in Siena is staggering. And building started in the 1260s. Blimey.
After three nights near Cortona we headed forty minutes drive south to a tiny, family run hotel near Todi. It was such a special experience, I will save it for another post, along with a cracking recipe given to me for Italian breakfast cake. Italian breakfast cake. You read right.