Monday, September 23, 2013 (Day 13)
Bike (rest day) Itinerary Day 6
– 9a wake up
– 11a head out
– Cortona on the Move – Chiesa di San Antonio
– 12:00 Cortona on the Move – Ex Magazzino Delle Carni
– 12:30p Catterdral of Santa Maria
– Cortona on the Move – Vicolo Del Gesù
– 1-2p lunch at Fufluns (pizza)
– 3p hiked up to Fortezza del Girifalco – Cortona on the Move
– 4:45p Santa Margherita Sanctuary
– 5p – Cortona on the Move – Vecchio Ospedale
– 6p – Cortona on the Move – bookstore, just Alitalia
– 6:30p gelatto in Palazzo Comunale in Piazza del Republica
– 8p dinner at Trattoria Dardano
Today was our official rest day built into the biking schedule when I first came up with the itinerary. Iron Donkey had suggested taking the day to tour Cortona and also mentioned that since it was up on a hilltop, we wouldn’t want to bike down off it and then back up again at the end of the day. Our written bike guides did have a little loop bike ride from Cortona, but it basically went back to the lake where we were yesterday, and we didn’t feel the need to repeat that ride again, even though it was a good ride. So, it is a rest day.
This morning, I slept in, I slept in very late. Mark was up around 9am, but we didn’t get moving until around 11am missing the hotel breakfast and instead going out in search of cannolis for breakfast. Sadly, the passticieria that had the cannolis last night was closed today, on Monday. Oh yeah, it’s Monday, and lots of things might be closed on Mondays.
We walked around a lot and finally ended up with little chocolate filled pastries for breakfast/early lunch that were tasty. Our goal today is to hit up the photographic exhibits that are all around town. We saw signs when we arrived for this event called “Cortona On The Move” as a photo exhibition. It turns out that the photos by many different artist are located in 6 locations around town. So, we randomly started heading for one of them.
Here is the list of locations (and artists):
1. Vicolo Del Gesù (Allen Matthews)
2. Ex Magazzino Delle Carni (David Chancellor)
3. Palazzo Ferretti bookshop and Ticket Office (Alitalia)
4. Vecchio Ospedale (Zed Nelson, Sol Neelman, Salvatore Santoro, Newsweek, and Circuito Off)
5. Chiesa Di Sant’Antonio (Christian Lutz)
6. Fortezza Di Girifalco (Joel Meyerowitz, Alfons Rodriguez, Jerden Toirkens, Gabor Arion Kudasz)
Since today is Monday, all the exhibits are closed between 1p and 3p. So, we just randomly started at the Chiesa Di Sant’Antonio where it was most amusing to see modern-day photographs laid out in an exhibit in a very old Italian church. It was certainly an interesting way of putting on an exhibit. I don’t think you need me to go into all my artistic reviews of all the photographers, so I won’t. However, I wasn’t super impressed with Christian Lutz as our starting point. We then, headed to Ex Magazzino Delle Carni and it was interesting to note that this photographer was from Atlanta originally. He ended up touring Italy, falling in love with Cortona, moving to Cortona, and starting up the Cortona Photography School.
Next door to the photo exhibit was the big church in town, the Catterdral of Santa Maria built in the 11th century. I’m always so impressed that people could build such large structures so long ago and also that they are still standing today. We were able to go inside to look around and then outside there were great views down to the countryside below Cortona. Then we had just enough time to eek out a visit to the Vicolo Del Gesù and the photo exhibit there before they closed down at 1p.
And now we were officially in the time period between 1 and 3, so we decided to have some lunch at the recommended pizza place with a fun name, Fufluns. Fufluns was actually right next to our hotel. We had a leisurely lunch eating yummy pizza and listening our our English-speaking lunch neighbors rattle on about this and that. It’s really quite amusing to listen in on conversations sometimes. =)
After lunch, we opted to start climbing up to the very top of Cortona and where the Fortezza was located, or the fortress of Cortona. We knew there was another photo exhibit here, though we figured the fortress would be cool to see as well. It was a much longer walk uphill than we had anticipated and we ended up getting there with just 15 minutes to spare before they opened. And then, we turned out to be their only patrons for the part of the afternoon that we were there, surprisingly. The Fortezza was housing 4 different photographer’s exhibits on many of it’s different levels. In fact, for the exhibit, the fortress was really all about the photos and there wasn’t much to see about the fortress except for the exceptional views out over the countryside. We could look out and see where we’d cycled from and where we were cycling tomorrow which is always the best part about visiting the high points in towns.
Most amusing about walking around the fortress areas where the plethora of warning signs every direction we looked. We were warned not to lean on any railings as there was always a danger of falling from great height. We were warned to watch our step, and all kinds of other dire warnings. Really, the place wasn’t in disrepair or anything, but they must have had some accident or there wouldn’t be this many signs.
Mark and I both enjoyed viewing the works of Joel Meyerowitz, though several of the other photographers here had exhibits far too serious for us. Still, we spent at least 1.5 hours here exploring the exhibits and admiring the views before heading back down towards town. On the way down, we actually were able to stop in at the Santa Margherita Sanctuary located just below the fortress which was surprising since we had read that you couldn’t go inside.
The next Cortona on the Move photo exhibit was another large one at the Vecchio Ospedale. (Ospedale is hospital, which we figured out after walking through many rooms with random items like sinks in the corners, or oxygen connections, and seeing the drains in the rooms, and all the stark tile.) This location had 5 photo exhibits including one of just old Newsweek magazine covers and spreads to commemorate the end of the Newsweek print magazine. Some of the exhibits were interesting, like one photographer who did a project on “weird sports” and photographed things like underwater hockey, or a pancake flipping contest. But others were more odd and some just didn’t quite interest me. We were interested to see one photographer do an exhibit on Iceland photos, however, this project theme was to tell the story of how there is always a tourist in every photo even in Iceland in front of all these natural wonders. Well, I didn’t think his photos were all that great, and the project missed it’s mark, but it was fun to try and figure out where all the locations were and if we’d been there.
By now it was getting towards the end of the day, but we still had one more exhibit left to look at, the bookstore. Well, it turned out the exhibit here wasn’t even a real exhibit afterall, but just a small collection of old Alitalia photos. oh well.
To reward our walking for the day, and really just because we felt like it, we went and got a pre-dinner gelato and then sat on the steps overlooking the main piazza or square or center of the town for almost an hour. It was fun to people watch here and see all the different little stories playing out between different groups of people. You had the young group of high school girls who were stuck pushing a stroller with someone’s baby sister in it. A young group of high school boys spotted them, and there were lots of conversations. There was a young girl practicing her bike riding skills as she biked circle after circle around the piazza darting in and out of people. Mostly it was interesting to see that most people in the square seemed to be locals and they were literally coming here at the end of the day just to find friends and have conversations before they had dinner. The community here must be very strong. Also, everyone seemed to know everyone else.
We had a marvelous dinner at a popular place up the street from us called Trattoria Dardano. We had to wait a bit for a table, but we were still seated by 8p and had delicious meals. We each got a pasta (ravioli and pici) and then Mark got a duck dish, while I had a dish of their white beans. The dessert tiramisu was great as well. I’ve never enjoyed tiramisu before as I’m not a fan of the coffee flavor, but all the tiramisu’s mark has had so far this vacation have come in a variety of shapes and sizes. It has been quite interesting to see some tiramisu’s come out in cups, drowned with a pudding, or in a bowl, or whatnot. Never have we seen the typical square with the decorated whipped cream on top like I’m used to. I also found out that I do enjoy the small-town-Italy version of tiramisu.
And after dinner, as it is always late after dinner, it was back to the hotel to back for tomorrow and go to bed. Our directions for tomorrow’s route tell us that the beginning will be challenging and epic, so we shall see….