Daytime and evening, Cortona is buzzing... stroll down the main street, Via Nazionale, which is lined with art galleries and fabulous boutiques, or stop at a terrace cafe or one of the tempting ice cream shops! The town hosts many festivals during the summer, but even when there is no specific event on, the atmosphere is always bustling and full of life. 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.
If you are staying during August...
you will be able to experience the Tuscan Sun Festival, which takes place in Cortona the middle two weeks of August. Concerts, art exhibitions, literature readings go on in the various churches and theatres. And on 15th August, the people of Cortona celebrate the Sagra della Bistecca - in the parks of Cortona, people cook the famous steak 'vitello chianino cotta sulla brace'. Buon appetito!
Experience the weekly market
Stalls laden with produce, scents and smells filling the air, the market is an integral part of Italian life. Why not pick up some fresh veggies and meat or fish to barbecue and enjoy an al fresco meal back at the villa? Camucia's market is on Tuesday morning, Cortona's on Saturday morning.
This nearby town has a medieval old quarter still surrounded by its city walls. Climb the Torre del Cassero for views across the Val di Chiana and Val di Chio. Though a smallish town, it is a bustling place and holds numerous festivals throughout the year, as well as plays, concerts, and food tastings.
Take a Cruise on Lake Trasimeno
There are half day and full day excursions stopping off at the islands and with the opportunity for a swim, with perhaps lunch on board. Or for some unforgettable sunset views, join an evening cruise. (Boats generally go from Castiglione del Lago, Passignano or Tuoro.)
Lake Trasimeno - Passignano sul 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.
Castiglione del Lago
Castiglione old town sits on a limestone promontory above Lake Trasimeno. 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.
Florence, of course
An easy day trip from the villa, this beautiful and most feted of cities is a must-do during your stay. Admire the Ponte Vecchio and the Renaissance architecture, and prepare to be awed by world class museums and art galleries crammed with masterpieces galore. After a morning's sightseeing, dozens of fabulous restaurants and terrace cafés await to refresh you for the afternoon.
Arezzo is a city with a long history, important since Etruscan times and full of art and culture to discover. The hub of the city is the red-brick Piazza Grande, surrounded by many beautiful buildings and plenty of cafes and restaurants. Do not miss the Basilica of San Francesco to see Piero Della Francesca's largest and finest work, 'History of the True Cross'. Displays at the Archaeological Museum include a unique collection of ‘vasi coralline’ (red vases).
Monthly antiques fair
A large antiques fair is held in the historical centre of Arezzo every first Sunday of each month, and the Saturday that precedes it. Even if you’re not intending to buy anything, it can be fascinating to browse the array of stalls!
The Parco Zoo Poppi is located to the north of Arezzo and introduces visitors to various species of native European animals, such as beavers, chamois, deer, wild boar, storks and owls.
Keep the children happy with a visit to the Piscina Acquapark Florida, a pool and water park complex in Arezzo.
Enjoying nature and the great outdoors
The Ponte a Buriano e Penna nature reserve just northwest of Arezzo is a lovely place for walking, with a footpath through woodlands and following the course of the Arno river (which also flows through Florence). Wildlife you may spot includes wild boar and porcupines, tree frogs and salamanders, woodpeckers, buzzards and a whole host of water birds such as herons, grebes and bitterns.
A tour of Chianti
Perhaps Italy's most well-known wine-producing area, the Chianti region also boasts some of the most quintessential Tuscan landscapes to ever grace a postcard! The villa is within easy reach of this wonderful area, which is best explored by heading for the Strada Chiantigiana, taking in all the picturesque villages along the way: Gaiole, Radda, Greve. Stop where the mood takes you and enjoy a drink or lunch in the square, watch the world go by whilst savouring Tuscan cuisine and Chianti wines.
is one of the finest medieval towns ever built, extremely pretty with its terracotta stone buildings that take on a golden hue in the sun. The Piazza del Campo is the beautiful square at the heart of the city, where the famous Palio horse race is held twice a year, on 2nd July and 16th August.
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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