Fantasia Etrusca

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12 Days in Tuscany – 2166km total

We spent an afternoon walking around Pisa taking in the sights but apart from the main piazza there is little else to attract.


Florence on the other hand took a 3 day visit and even though the temps were in the 30s we enjoyed the many piazzas, galleries & museums.

Florence – the likeness is uncanny
Florence – from Piazzale Michaelangelo

The main duomo was so impressive I had to shoot it in pano from 3 different angles.

Florence – Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence – Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore
Florence – Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

Deb’s shot from a lookout over the city

Florence - Piazzale de Michaelangelo
Florence – Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore

We arrived in Cortona, a small hilltop village, during a very heavy storm and when we parked could not see out the window.

Cortona – looking out from our campsite over the Tuscan plains

However, after a few hours the clouds parted and we wandered into the village’s main square. The shops were open but there was no-one around.  Then we heard trumpets blaring & the banging of drums so we walked over to the next piazza to find this annual medieval festival just starting.

There were hundreds of people that came to attend the Archidado Joust, a festival originating in the late 1300s, where the 5 ‘quarters’ of the village are represented by teams and compete in an archery competition (crossbow) for the ‘golden arrow’.

Cortona – Festival

Pre-game entertainment

Cortona – Festival

The local aristocracy  are suitably impressed with their corporate box.

Cortona – Festival

The start of competition is heralded

Cortona – Festival

One by one the teams have their go.

Cortona – Festival

They even let the womenfolk play.

Cortona – Festival

After the event the winning team parades through the main street.

Cortona – Festival

The next day we had booked a one day cooking class and we met Alessandra at 9:30am in the same square where the festival had been.  We got to know each other over coffee and then it was off to the various markets and shops to buy all the necessities for the days activities.

Cortona – Deb stirring the pot as usual

Once settled in at her home she quickly organised us both in helping with the prep. Once most items were underway it was time for a snack of bruschetta, cheese & apple with fresh chili and wine. By this time Alessandra & I had discovered we both loved photography and so the rest of the day was interspersed with cooking, showing photos and of course….more wine.

Cortona – sneaking a kiss with the delicious Alessandra

By 9:00pm neither Deb or I could drink or eat anymore and Alessandra dropped us home to end what has definitely been a highlight for us thus far.

Cortona – these are everywhere in Italy
Cortona – an unexpected highlight

On the last day we walked a kilometer up from the town to the fortress at the top where there was a great photo exhibition of many Piazzas around Tuscany.  The views from this fort built in 1536 were amazing as was the walk back down passing many ancient churches and a convent.

Cortona – speaking to her bookie?

Pienza was another hilltop village further south again with great scenery, sculptures and delicious trattorias.

Pienza – a delightful lunch stop
Pienza – hilltop beauty with wonderful views

Our last major stop in Tuscany was Pitigliano, another fortified hilltop town whose buildings are in excellent condition. In the 1500s this town had a thriving Jewish community who famously co-existed with the Christian population for many decades. For a variety of reasons both political & economical the community declined until the synagogue was finally closed in 1960.

Pitigliano – synagogue & museum in the old Jewish ghetto

Attached to the synagogue is a museum and walkthrough of the archaeological buildings that were attached throughout the ages such as a Mikvah, kosher butcher & a bakery.

Pitigliano - Jewish ghetto & sinagoga
Pitigliano – armed guards for a house of prayer….what a world, what a world.

Alessandra told us about this spa town, Saturnia, which we visited for a restful 2 days, bathing in the hot sulphur springs.

thermal sulphur springs
Saturnia – thermal sulphur springs

We are now off to visit a couple of small villages in the Lazio region before setting camp in Rome for what I’m sure will be an action-packed, waist-expanding few days.

Just to let you know you can click on any of the pictures for a full-screen slideshow of all images in the post.


13 Replies to “Fantasia Etrusca

  1. “Love love love the photos an comments, very envious of the two of you.”

    Thank you Marion Caruso for the above comment. I’m afraid the original was ‘lost’ during an attempt by the hosting company to resolve some issues.

  2. I was in Bologna last year and went looking for the Jewish ghetto there and eventually found the synagogue and sure enough, there were armed guards there too.

  3. I love the photos. It sounds like you are having a wonderful time. The scultpures look amazing in Pietra. And I like the tip at the end about the slide show. We are off in a week to Poland, Austria and Germany plus Czech republic. Viv Sussman.

  4. Definitely an uncanny likeness 😉
    These pics and stories, as always are wonderful.
    I love watching you both loving your life & travels xx

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