Wednesday, July 08, 2015

Italy - Day 26 (Tuscany/Cortona) - Gia learned how to swim!!!

First order of business is to celebrate that Gia learned how to swim today!  Lily worked on it a bit with her in Rome, but Corey and Caden were her wing men today.  

Gia absolutely loves the water and was sooooo excited!  I was too busy cheering her on to capture many photos, but here is one I managed to snap...

Next order of business is to start with the beginning of the day, which can be summarized in a word -inspired.  Running up the winding street into Cortona with the Tuscan views laid out before you as the backdrop to old stone walls and churches with terracotta roofs, dotted with wild poppies and bright blue flowers.  A true delight for the senses.  Such a gift. 
Once in Cortona, happening across sleepy stone walkways with vespas parked out front, beautiful wooden doors, and gardens making the most of all available soil.

I had never been to the church of St. Margherita, built in honor of the Saint who spent her life in Cortona and lis laid to rest there in the 1200’s -- but since I was running, I thought it only fitting to pay homage to Margo (Margherita) – who is kind of saintly for running with me at 5am all those years J  Many steps up but so worth it.  The birds flying about, the sun just up.  Just stunning.

On way home I ventured off the road on what I guessed would be a shortcut through olive groves and was delighted to not have to turn around.  I made it back to the house 15 minutes quicker. 
We had breakfast poolside and swam all morning before venturing into Pienza for lunch per the recommendation of Sara to  enjoy the pecorino cheese they make there.

The view on the run up into Cortona

 Narrow road shoulder, but it was early, so I only encountered 4 cars, and they are used to bikers on these hills so drivers always seem on alert.

The town

One of my favorite little side streets

The steps up to the church of Santa Margherita

The path down...which took my by a monestary

Where's the selfie stick when you need one?!? :)  Street vendors are selling these everywhere!

Our house is just down there a ways...

 A lady was out feeding these stray cats.  They seem to have a pretty good live in Cortona.

Pretty door and mosaic on the way.

The walk into the piazza where we had enjoyed gelato a couple nights before.  
The road down
The olive grove path down to our house

Looking at the vista of the road up
We had breakfast poolside and swam all morning.  We had the big breakthrough of Gia learning how to swim without her life jacket, and had Lily sunning herself like a teenager '_'

Around lunchtime, we decided to venture to Pienza for lunch about 45-minutes away (per the recommendation of Sara at our previous house) to enjoy the pecorino cheese they make there.  It did not disappoint!  We ate our weight in cheese.

Our first restaurant choice was closed for summer holiday, but we happened across a gem of a place where the waiter and chef were one in the same.  Excellent sample of meats and cheeses and some of the best spaghetti I have ever eaten.

One of the little cheese shops

After sampling, Gia gave the soft pecorino two thumbs up :)

Our lunch stop

Our lunch... the restaurant could hold up to 14 people.

A battleship match

Gia ate so much cheese and pasta she nearly fell asleep in her chair :)
 Once home, we swam the rest of the day...  Gia practiced more swimming without her life jacket :)

Notice Whaley-Claire-Sophia-James (our stuffed whale from Amalfi) made the trip to both my and Corey's dismay.

We were rescuing bees from the pool (nest was near the outdoor shower) and watched this one all the way through cleanup to full recovery.

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