Simply do nothing but relax by the pool and soak up the view
Cortona is a must on anyone's list of things to see.
Just a short drive away, this gorgeous hilltop town is so picturesque it will take your breath away. It is full of interesting shops selling art and crafts, and local products, and there are many restaurants, terrace cafés and ice-cream shops for refreshment. Our top tip to avoid the steep walk up to the town - park at the car park on the Viale Battisti and take the escalators up to the Via Nazionale. From there it's just a short, flat walk to the main square.
Whilst in Cortona, follow the Roman road called Strada Basolata,
which starts from the Chiesa del Torreone (at the top of Cortona) and climbs up towards il Monte S.Egigio, following the ridge of the mountain/hill. Fantastic views!
Passignano sul Trasimeno on Lake Trasimeno
A short 30 minute drive from the house will bring you to the pretty village of Passignano sul Trasimeno perched on the edge of Lake Trasimeno. Enjoy a morning stroll through the cobbled streets up to the castle which offers great views over the lake. Take a boat trip from the pier to Maggiore Island and follow one of the shaded walking trails that wind their way around the island to the church at the top. A small cluster of restaurants and shops nestle round the harbour and offer an ideal spot to enjoy lunch whilst watching the boats come and go. Back in Passignano, take a front row seat at one of the cafes on the waters edge to enjoy the sun setting over the lake with a gelato or a Spritz in hand.
Head down to the lake.
Lago Trasimeno is at the centre of Italy and the Umbrian version of the sea! Castiglione del Lago sits on a limestone promontory above Lake. Enjoy a walk around the medieval walls of Palazzo Ducale to the Rocca del Leone fortress, a great example of Umbrian military architecture. Enjoy lunch at one of the boutique restaurants, with their tables spilling onto the cobbled streets. Then take a stroll down to the waters edge, for an opportunity to swim in the lake or hire a pedalo or canoe and enjoy a view of the town from the water. A relaxed waterfront bar offers refreshments and snacks and there is a shady play park for the children. If you are around the last week of July, you will see the Palio of the Boats - a big boat race on the lake.
The weekly open-air market is part of Italian life.
Stalls laden with produce, scents and smells filling the air, and a crowd of Italians - finish the morning's shopping with a coffee in a bar. Go to Camucia on Tuesday morning, and Cortona on Saturday morning.
A different type of market in nearby Arezzo
can be experienced on the first Sunday of every month. It is a famous antique fair with dealers coming from all over Italy to attend. See if you can find a bargain!
Enjoy the Giostra del Saracino in Arezzo in June or September.
The people of Arezzo dress up in medieval costumes and parade through the town. It ends with a jousting competition in the Piazza Grande. It takes place on the last but one Saturday of June, by night, and the first Sunday of September, in the afternoon.
If you are staying at Casa Leopolda during August, you will be able to experience the Tuscan Sun Festival,
which takes place in Cortona the middle two weeks. Concerts, art exhibitions, literature readings go on in the various churches and theatres.
Take a tour of the many vineyards in Chianti.
Either go at your own pace stopping where you want to, or ask at any of the tourist offices for information on organised tours.
...must be one of the finest medieval towns ever built and is not to be missed on a holiday to Tuscany. More intimate than Florence and, dare we say it, prettier with its terracotta stone buildings that take on a golden hue in the sun, it is an enchanting place to visit time and time again. Most people head straight for the Piazza del Campo, the beautiful square at the heart of the city where the famous Palio race takes place on 2nd July and 16th August every year. While in the piazza, climb the Torre del Mangia for a magnificent view over the city.
Experience the 'passeggiata'
No, it is not an Italian dance. In any town or large village, especially on a weekend or holiday, the inhabitants of the town will congregate in the main square in the early evening to have a stroll around, talk to their friends, have an aperitif or ice cream, before dispersing for dinner. It is the perfect time to people watch!
Take the train to Rome or Florence.
Leave your car at the station in Camucia (the town below Cortona). Trains are fast (about an hour to Florence) and frequent. Great views over the Tuscan countryside and you avoid the nightmare of city driving (and parking!).
For a special occasion,
book a table at the Relais Il Falconiere. On the same side of Cortona, you will see signs for it. A beautiful setting, a beautiful restaurant and of course, great food.
Shop at the market for some fresh mozzarella, tomatoes, salami, and bread
and then come home to have a leisurely al fresco lunch, followed by a siesta.
La Valle nature reserve
Visit La Valle nature reserve on the banks of Lake Trasimeno www.oasinaturalisticlavalle.it The visitor centre offers guided tours (walking and by boat) allowing you to discover this wonderful reserve. Spot the herons, reed warblers, egrets and little bitterns amongst a huge variety of birds. A relaxing day out.
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