The Val di Chiana from Panicale
Pencil on paper
From the Piazza Masolino one can look over the red tiled roofs of Panicale and see the Tuscan city of Cortona nestled alongside the mountains that form the eastern edge of the Val di Chiana. By car it takes under an hour to get there. The road up to Cortona is not easy. It is full of hairpin turns, steep ascents and sudden cut offs. If the name Cortona sounds familiar, you are either a fan of Renaissance homeboy, the painter Luca Signorelli or you enjoyed basking under the Tuscan sun with one of Frances Mayes books.
Virgin and Child
Tempera and oil on wood, c. 1505
ANYWHERE ~ PRANZO ~ ANYTIME
In Italy, for Elizabeth and I, almost anywhere is worth going to as long as there is a decent chance of finding a great place to have lunch. Nothing wrong with a little destination dining and....by the way..."I wonder whats in that church ?" You never know.
Aldo had told us that there are two "must do" things when we visit Cortona.
The first is to walk to 'Le Celle', an abandoned monastery founded by St. Francis in 1211
( Stew and I will do that in the spring). The second and equally important
is to have lunch ( pranzo ) at Osteria del Teatro. Enough said.
Outside Aldo & Daniela's Bar Gallo
The four of us were having our usual morning coffee at Bar Gallo. It was the beginning of what was to be an unusually warm day for May. As we sat there I could sense an unease in our friend Debbie as she sipped her cappuccino grande. She seemed to be in a fog, even though we hadn't drank that much wine the night before. Debbie is an articulate, intelligent and creative woman with the most uncanny sense of being able to do whatever it is a G.P.S. does. A few years ago we were lost, driving around the backroads of Tuscany trying to find our way to Siena. I was seemingly driving around circles when suddenly she screams "STOP!"
I slammed on the brakes and looked to the side of the road only to see a rundown factory with the name Pratesi on the side of it......OH, shoes...we will never make it to Siena now. this was a must stop. Elizabeth still wears a pair of red loafers she bought that day.
Got Prada? Nah. Want Tod's? Too expensive. Bargain basement deal? Yes!
Place Debbie anywhere on the globe and she can locate wherever she is by the nearest shoe outlet. It is amazing, so I knew that the uneasiness I sensed that morning somehow involved shoes, or the lack of them. I decided to throw down the gauntlet...."Anybody up for a trip to Cortona?" Then over the empty coffee cups a war
cry arose......"Yes, shoes!"
We soon found ourselves in Cortona on the Via Natzionale looking for the Pratesi outlet. Elizabeth and Debbie were on a mission for two finds: shoes and Italian leather purses, Jim and I, as usual, stood outside the more than tiny store and did what men around the world do....we waited.
THE JOKER IS WILD
Cards From Cortona
oil on panel, 7" x 5"
Boredom, or was it watching one too many people licking gelato soon got the better of me and I began to look around at the various shops. There was one in particular that caught my eye, Il Papiro.
It seemed to be a paper store and since paper is part of my trade, I decided to take a look and left Jim
Fighting The Italian Street Musicians Union Rates
We became exhausted after all that shoe shopping so the best remedy was to revive ourselves with a shared bottle of prosecco. We had just settled down at the nearest bar when a street musician came by and played a short riff on his accordian. Want to hear more, you gotta pay. Little did he know that I have harbored a lifetime of hatred of accordion music, must be the Lawrence Welk thing.
Anyway, I was feeling flush and offered a two euro coin. He looked at it, looked at me and walked on muttering something. Fortunately, I couldn't understand. So, I kept the coin and added it to the composition.