Land of the hills, home of the sore calves
This morning for our free day, we hopped on a train and traveled about 20 minutes south of Arezzo to another small, country hill town called Cortona. We were looking for a getaway that was quaint, relaxed, and close by. Cortona came highly recommended to us by some of people who came on this trip last year and it turned out to be the perfect spot for our free day adventure.
You can’t see it super well, but we hiked to the very top of the peak.
We didn’t really have a whole lot planned and decided we would play it by ear when we arrived. Cortona is similar to Arezzo but located on a WAYY higher incline. When we got off the train, we looked up and realized just how high up the mountain Cortona was and that our original plan of walking up wasn’t going to happen. We ended up finding a taxi that took us to the base of the town and we explored shops in the main square before deciding to make our way toward the very top of the hill to a beautiful church. We had heard the view was incredible and wanted to check it out for ourselves.
And that was when the hills kicked in. HOLY COW. I can usually hold my own on a walk/incline but these hill were SOO steep. We all had to stop every so often and catch our breath and laugh about how embarrassing it was we were so out of shape. The houses we were walking by were stunning and kept us slightly distracted from our pain and heavy breathing. They all have gorgeous flowers planted outside and in the window boxes. The only plant I have ever cared for didn’t make it, but I am now inspired to have pretty plants around my house (okay future house). Thank you Italy. 😉
We eventually made it to a beautiful lookout where we stayed for a good 15 minutes just taking pictures and soaking in the beauty around us. The picture doesn’t do this view any justice, but it was incredible. We left from there continued to walk and found several off-road paths that took us random places, but it was the best way to explore the city. Later we trekked to the top of the mountain where there is a huge cathedral. Once again, the hills almost killed us all as you can see in the photo below of me– ashley caught me as I was slightly dying haha.
After Cortona, we took the train to the nearby Castiglione del Largo, a beautiful lake town. Even though we were only 20 minutes south of where we had been, the landscape was completely different as were the shops and neighborhoods. This town was more spread out and very quiet.
We walked around the lake and had lunch at a snack bar type restaurant by the water before heading back to Arezzo. My Fitbit reported we had walked 11 miles and 24,000 steps and climbed 68 flights of stairs (told you this hills were steep)!! We all knew we would conk out on the train and sweet Mike Tom (our PLC advisor) volunteered to stay awake so we wouldn’t miss our stop. We all made it back exhausted but safe and sound. It was a fabulous day and it was so fun to get to venture out on the train and visit yet yet another part of Italy!
When we returned, it was our last night in Arezzo and at the monastery (aka SO sad because we basically were leaving paradise) and so we commemorated our time in Arezzo with a BBQ (yay for hamburgers!!) hosted by the monastery staff and a movie on the terrace. Everyone headed to bed early as we had to pack and be up early to check out and hit the road for Florence.
The whole group has said it at least 15 times that this been the best week of our lives and we are all having a blast. It was SO hard to leave Arezzo but looking forward to the adventures ahead! #butpleaseprayforourfeet #holywalking