I’m thrilled that my friend Arlene Yaconelli has been able to
come to Cortona for a visit while I’m here. We go walking every
morning, and everywhere we go there is a history lesson to be found.
On one of our most recent outings, we hiked up a hill to the Etruscan
wall that surrounds Cortona. The Etruscans were an ancient civilization
that flourished in the Tuscan area from the 9th to the 1st century B.C.
From the hill, we could see Lake Trasimeno, where the Carthaginian general
Hannibal defeated the Romans in 217 B.C.
Pat has been walking the Tuscan hills with Arlene Yaconelli in the
mornings. The ribbon of water in the distance is Lake Trasimeno, made
famous by Hannibal's victory over the Romans.
Cortona is 2,000 years old, and it’s amazing to
me that something as ancient as the wall still exists. In the United
States, the oldest structures are on the East Coast. As a matter of
fact, Jamestown, Virginia, the oldest English-speaking settlement in
“the New World,” will celebrate its 400th anniversary next
year. As you travel farther west, the oldest buildings get younger and
younger. To someone in California, a one hundred-year-old structure
is old, but to a Virginian it doesn’t seem old at all. By comparison,
Europeans don’t consider Virginia’s antiquities to be old.
This old foundry may be familiar to members of the
P. Buckley Moss Society who participated in the 2004 Society Tour
For centuries Cortona remained one of Italy’s best
kept secrets until a few years ago, when author Frances Mayes’
book Under the Tuscan Sun became a best seller and was the
basis for a movie. Now, Cortona is a very popular tourist destination.
The house of Frances Mayes, author of Under the Tuscan Sun,
as seen from the Etruscan Wall.
Until next week…