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Candelaria Design Tour Italy 2014 - Day 5 - Villa Piazzano and Cortona

Sunday is one of my favorite days. How many times do I say this during the trip…..!

It's our first full day in the country. Fresh air, birds singing, the fog slowly disappears from the valley floor as the sun peaks its first rays over the hilltops of this magical land that time has forgotten. I got the coffee going, started a nice fire in the fireplace, and slowly my travelers, not sure where they are by now, awake and started their day. Today we get to sleep in a bit as we don't have to be to our first destination until 11 am. So it was nice to see everyone discover the homes and watch the fog lift for the first time.

Today we start the day at the Villa Piazzano Villa Piazzano. One of my favorites…..see there I go again! But truly, this is. I stumbled upon this property in 2000 by making the wrong turn down the road….I've discovered a lot of great things during my travels that way.  Once I realized I was on the wrong road it was too late as I was quickly mesmerized by the Italian cypress alle that seemed to never end. Only after a mile of repetitive trees did it end at this amazing villa. When I first saw this property back then it was in poor order and was really nothing to get too excited about. I saw a family strolling the grounds and asked them if they knew what this place was. They indicated they had just purchased the property and were in the process of restoring it. Well, seeing it now some 14 years later and it is simply marvelous what has been accomplished. This is a premier  destination if you are ever in this area. Beautiful grounds, amazing history, friendly and charming staff, and all at the foot of Cortona, Tuscany and Umbria. I cannot think of a better place.

So after our drive in which again mesmerized us all, we parked and made our way into the Villa where we were all welcomed. We were given a short tour of the Villa, the wine cellar, which is terrific, and then it was off to brunch on the garden terrace overlooking the pool. This beauty of this setting is hard to capture in words or pictures. It can only be understood by a visit. The sights, smells, warmth of the Tuscan sun, colors, and then ultimately the taste of the food - what a plethora of stimuli. That is what Italy is all about…..!

The brunch they prepare for us is a masterpiece - a true work of art. Carefully arranged in the dining room, this brunch is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. I think my travelers spend more time photographing the food as they do eating it. Of course this is all accompanied by prosecco!

A quick group picture and it was back to the country homes for a siesta and time to just grab a breather after the hustle of the last 5 days.

Before you knew it, it was 4 pm and time to make the drive back over the mountain to Cortona for a fun evening in the city famous for the Frances Mayes book and then movie, Under the Tuscan Sun. And Tuscan sun we had. Wow, what a beautiful late fall day. We walked through the main street to our restaurant at the far end of town and then turned my travelers loose to go explore. Cortona was having a street antique fair and so it was very busy, really alive and a great time to see the energy of this vibrant hill town. Our dinner reservations was at 7 pm and gradually everyone arrived and dinner was on!

I love this first dinner in the country side. Different items on the menu and the prices always blow people away. Nearly half to a third of the prices in Florence. From 70€ in Florence per person for wine and dinner to 20€ per person for wine and dinner in the countryside! No drop in quality - in fact I think the quality is better. This year we dined at the Trattoria Dardona, which is terrific. Veal porcini, wild boar pasta, and of course bisteca - amazing.

After dinner it was time for some gelato down the street, a cigar and a stroll through the now quiet and tranquil streets back to our cars and the drive home……magical.