Horses, olives and vines.
I recently discovered a small riding yard about a 5 minute drive from Cortona. They really do have horses to suite every type of rider. I myself have not ridden much in my life, but my girlfriend is a very accomplished rider. We bothed enjoyed our 2 hours hack in the undulating hills immensely. The very friendly instructor took us on a winding path past numerous olive groves, vineyards and Tuscan villas. The horses were extremely well trained and we basically could "customise" our ride. Seeing the Etruscan ruines from horseback is something I'll remember for a long time. They also have self-catering apartments in a renovated 15th century olive mill. All makes for a very relaxed and rejuvenating country break!
- Family Travel
- Farm Stay
- Horse Riding
Wander the Olive Groves
Wandering the Olive Groves was an experince. The groves on the property were quite large and the trees were full of olives (not yet ready for picking to my dissapointment). I am a big believer is seeing where things you enjoy to eat grow to fully appreciate them.We love the olive oil from the Villa and having seen the olives with my own eyes gave me a sense of appreciation for all that goes into making my bottle of oil.
Monastery Eremo de le Celle
When I asked the tourist office for suggestions on walks in the area, they mentioned a monastery but no details. It wasn't a huge endorsement, but we got bored quickly and decided to go (but got lost the first time). Being stubborn, we returned to the western road outside of town to find this place. We had thought it was a 5km walk round-trip. Not so!
SO it is dusk, and we are walking along an incredibly dark, winding road (DO NOT GO ALONE AT NIGHT) An hour passed and we were just about to give up as the sun had completely disappeared. We rounded a bend and there was the Monastery Eremo de le Celle, chiseled out of a stonefof a Tuscan Hill. The sight of it was awe-inspiring. It's setting, carved out of the rock and stradding a gushing waterfall, could not be more evocative. We arrive just as the monks were blowing out their candles for the evening. We were speechless.
Unfortunately because of the dark, our photo was bad (the one here is of a house on the road) - but in a way, I'm glad that I can't post anything on here, it would not do the Monastery justice! This is the Tuscany that I think many people hope to see but might not get a chance to fight through the commercial grit.
Some tips if you make the trek: allow 45 min - one hour to make the walk, one way. Watch out for cars and bring a flashlight if you go at night.
How to get there from Cortona:
- Take the NW exit from Cortona, the Porta Colonia. Turn right onto the road that fronts the city walls. There is a turn on your left that leads to the church of S. Maria Nuova. Don't take it! There is another minor road after this, but it is just a glorified driveway so ingore it!
Keep following the road along the wall until it veers away and off into the wooded hills. You will see some signs along the way to the monastery, and the route fairly well marked.
And remember...you ARE probably going the right way...it's just a looong walk. A bottle of wine can make it a bit more interesting though....
In my opinion, the atompshere of Cortona is much more evocative after the sun goes down...so if you are set on coming here, really try to stay the night or take the last bus out. The history really seems to come out at this point, when the streets are darkened...you can almost imagine that you are back in the 17th century looking for trouble!
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