Sunday, 15 July 2012

Pretty towns in Tuscany

One of the places I had never been to before but which I had often wondered about (mainly because of its name) was Poggibonsi.  As it happens, this is where you have to change to get the bus to Siena and there can sometimes be quite a long wait between buses.  The day I went to Poggibonsi, the bus driver (who I believe was Micheal Schumacher dressed as a middle aged Italian man) got lost.  When he found that no one on the bus knew where we were (being tourists and all) he jumped down and asked a nearby motorist for directions and then proceeded to help that motorist push his broken down car off the road.  It was all very friendly

 After that tiny bit of excitement, Poggibonsi turned out to be asleep when I got there just on lunch time.  I wandered about to see if anything was happening and it wasn't but I did find some pretty flowers

and lots of empty streets which I quite liked

As well as Poggibonsi, I also visited Barberino Val d'Elsa

where I found pretty views on both sides of town

an impressive medieval wall and gate

and more empty streets

Well they were empty until a VIP wedding party of at least 20 minibus loads of overdressed (and seriously overheated) guests arrived and which would have brought the town to a standstill if it hadn't already reached that state hours earlier

I thought there might be more happening outside the town walls in the newer part of town

but there wasn't and even Bar Sport was looking pretty empty

To be fair, it was a Saturday, it was 3 o'clock in the afternoon and it was about 37 degrees in the shade.  What was I doing out and about taking photos?

From there, I decided to head for the hills and found myself at Cortona which just happens to be on a hilltop about 500 metres above sea level and is almost all vertical.  It's great exercise walking around Cortona because every where you go looks like this

or this

or this

and sometimes this

You definitely have to pick your moments for walking around Cortona.  I saw lots of people who looked like they were climbing their way to a heart attack just to see the view.  It is a nice view though.  This is from just half way up and the lake in the distance, on the left, is Lake Trasimene where Hannibal (who walked the elephants and a bunch of mercenaries from Carthage, now Tunisia, through Spain, southern France and over the Alps) arrived to fight and win against the Romans

From the very top of the hill the view is even more impressive

and you get a very good sense of just how fertile this part of Italy is

At the top is a fortress built by one of the later Medici mob

and just down from there is this lump of rock the Etruscans left behind about two and a half thousand years ago.  What I'd like to know is what the Etruscans came to the top of the hill for (other than to build the first lot of steps and paths and walls)

There is also a church for Santa Margarita of Cortona (who had nothing to do with the pizza).  Like lots of churches everywhere, this one is large, mostly empty and relatively cool on a hot day.  I did wonder about the system for holding the tiles in place though and what this says about who is or isn't watching over the church

Luckily some parts of Cortona are relatively flat and that's where you can find the cappucinos and gelato

as well as the oldies checking out the scene

Directly across the road (or lane depending on your view of which is which) from where I was staying I saw a number of signs like this one warning people not to stop due to the danger of something collapsing

The something was this entire building

While other parts of Cortona also looked frighteningly decrepit

or just a bit run down

most of it is delightfully pretty

From my window, I saw this view every evening, hazy from the sands blown over on a hot wind from Africa

and this morning,  I saw the first clouds in more than a fortnight

Lovely as Cortona is, I got the impression a lot of it is empty and there were plenty of places for sale or for rent, not one of which tempted me even a little bit

These, however, how useful would these be?

No comments:

Post a Comment