Thursday, September 11, 2008

The Town of Cortona

The outside view of the city of Cortona

So I told you I would give you a better description of where I am living and how it is going. Let me try and describe Cortona for you. Cortona is a small town on a hill overlooking Tuscany.  There is one main road which branches off into ally ways and narrow streets covered in vines and towered over by yellow and red houses.  Looking up, you will see a variety of windows, looking side to side, you will see many different types of doors.  Each one having its own individual character.  Walking along the main cobblestone road one will see a variety of things.  There are restaurants and cafes with all of the tables outside on the side of the road.  Mind you, these streets are extremely narrow, and not many cars are seen on the streets.  It feels more like a festival or market where the streets are closed off.  But every once and awhile you have to get out of the way to allow a "smart car"  to get by.  I am so ready to steal one of these cars and bring them back to the states.  They are so cute!  So teeny and they have the best colors.  So, if you continue walking down the road, watching your step so one of those cobblestone bricks doesn't jump out and grab you (they like to do that to me) you will see grocery stores with Italian men singing as they wash the fruits and vegetables sitting outside their stores.  They greet you with a smile and "buon giorno!" as you walk by.  You can smell the fresh fruits as you pass by the stands, and you cannot help stare because of the wonderful array of colors that are filling the fruit baskets.  The smells of the spices and pasta hide in the air as you pass by the restaurants, every once and awhile they come out of their hiding places to fill your nose with their amazing sent, causing your stomach to growl and your mouth to water.  Continue walking, and you see cafes with the most amazing coffee, but no to-go paper starbucks like cups.  To-go is pretty much unheard of here, so if you order a coffee, be prepared to sit down at a table and slowly sip your small cup of coffee.  As much as I love the slow paced feel of the cafes, I do miss carrying my coffee around with me, being able to drink half at one time and save the other half for later, cause I'm such a slow coffee drinker!  But anyways... keep walking and you will pass a few cute shops, bakeries with amazing looking pastries, meat shops, gillaterias, and many art galleries.  You will soon come to a big open area called the plaza.  Here there is a congregation of elderly Italian men who are conversing rather loudly.  At first you would assume they are all angry and yelling at each other, but actually they are agreeing quite expressively,  laughing, reading the morning newspaper, and enjoying each others company.  They always watch us trying to speak Italian and direct our way around the plaza.  I'm pretty sure they're making fun of us half the time.  There are women doing their grocery shopping, children running around falling on the cobblestone, laughing and getting back up.  It is so cute to hear them speak because you cannot understand a word they say, but the Italian sounds so beautiful coming out of their small mouths.  There are men standing outside of their shops and cafes trying to lure you into their building.  Continue past the plaza and you will come to a historic church with a large number of steps leading up the the huge wooden doors.  Passing the church, you walk down a large slope (being careful of those cobblestone blocks) and you come to the edge of the city wall.  This is what we call the overlook.  There is a great view here overlooking Tuscany, with a historic church and cemetery being the closest building in site.  
To get back to our school, you have to walk up this enormous hill.  Like, it is huge.  Its a great workout, but if your going down to town, you'll want to try and get all that you need so you don't have to go back down later.  
Every night we gather for dinner at Tonnios restaurant at the base of our hill.  We eat downstairs in the wine cellar.  We get a three course meal every night.  Starting with pasta, then a meat course, and a dessert.  Oftentimes we get fruit for dessert, but last night we got this delicious cake.  We were very happy about that!  
Today we officially start classes.  I have photography and Italian today, art history and painting tomorrow.  
I am having a great time so far.  I love the town of Cortona and getting to know the people here.  I'm excited to learn Italian so I can better communicate with the locals.
Well I have to get ready for photo!  I will be writing later on!  Thanks for reading!


Tamara said...

Hey lovely,
It all sounds wonderful! I'm so happy you get to experience all of this. Isn't it cool to see the different, beautiful places God has created?

I love you and am praying for you always.

joy said...

gee, joanna, i feel so bad for you. that all sounds just awful! i'll pray for you. :) girl,i am trying not to be envious! and those cobblestones must really be bad, you mentioned them a lot. have fun!

Marybeth Christman said...

Did you trip on a cobblestone?
Auntie Beth