I vividly remember the excitement that arose once we realized that the quaint town we saw perched upon a Tuscan hill was Cortona. As we swirled along the winding roads, it felt like the car couldn’t move fast enough and the roads were getting smaller. The car slowed to a stop when the fear of continuing down a narrow alley in a foreign country did not seem like the best idea. We saw what appeared to be a lookout and stopped to enjoy the rolling Tuscan hills stretched for miles. After meeting up with our Airbnb host, he suggested we follow him to our destination. Although a little fearful, we soldiered on along the narrow pathways and dirt roads as the sun was setting, until we found ourselves disconnected from civilization.
The beautiful brick house appeared suddenly surrounded by olive trees and surprises to be discovered once we slowed down enough to notice. As we stepped out of our car and into the brisk air, I realized this is what I had been looking for my entire life. It was an escape from the constantly evolving, never quiet world. We had the luxuries of a stove, heat, a shower, a hot tub, while also being able to step back in time enjoying an indoor fireplace, no cell phone reception, no internet, and almost no T.V. (CNN was available, but who wants to listen to the news on a Tuscan hillside.) We were, for the first time in a very long time, completely disconnected from the outside world. I never realized how addicted to technology I was until this moment. We spent the first night surrounded by candlelight, listening to music and coming in and out of talking and reading the books we stashed away for a moment like this.
After we woke the next morning, we explored the grounds in the light of a new day. We found the house surrounded by rosemary bushes that greeted us the night before with its fragrant smell wafting through the air. We stumbled upon Italian figs hiding near the back of the house still ripe from the harvest season and pomegranate trees dying off. As we walked around what seemed like heaven, I understood why Frances Mayes ran away to Cortona in Under The Tuscan Sun. I also had grandeur thoughts of running away, husband by my side to the place that had brought us so much peace. We continued walking along the narrow roads of Cortona until we reached downtown, hiking up the steep hillside, grabbing a gelato to enjoy well we popped in and out of shops.
After only a couple of hours away we headed back to our haven away from the world and prepared the groceries we had bought from the town below. We feasted on bruschetta we had learned to create at an earlier cooking class in Florence. We grilled steak and chestnuts on the charcoal grill outside, then designed the most beautiful charcuterie board as we drank red wine. Even though we unfortunately only booked the Airbnb for two nights it felt like a larger part of our 3-week excursion throughout Italy. It was an escape, unlike anything I had ever experienced before and one I’m not likely to forget.
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