The plan to stay in Paciano grew from Italians voting it the village they would most want to live in (don’t know who did the survey or how many people were polled). Maybe they want to live here because there are no tourists except us! In fact, there isn’t much of anything here. In the old town walls there is one restaurant/bar and a café/grocery shop, oh and an ‘English Studio’ for those who want to learn the language. You know what is odd, though, on the way into the village there is a sign welcoming everyone to Paciano, then a sign mentioning something about it being a ‘sister city’ to Mosman, Sydney, Australia (!!!). Still can’t figure that one out.
Our B&B is very picturesque with glorious views and stunning sunsets every night. We have explored some of the surrounding area each day and are surprised at the differences and similarities of the Umbrian/Tuscan hill towns and villages. Technically we are staying in Umbria, but we are very near the border that we have had both regions at our disposal. The countryside is stunning every way you look. Our daily outings have included Perugia, Castiligone del Lago, Cortona, Citta della Pieve, Chiusi.
Cortona, (hate to admit it cause that makes us such tourists!), was gorgeous! The medieval main square was delightful, but we were walking for about 20 minutes before we heard an Italian voice. Since Frances Mayes books (Under the Tuscan Sun et al) things have apparently really changed in the town. The main street once held a few regular town shops like a butcher, grocer etc. Now it’s all art galleries, souvenir and wine shops and restaurants.
Started to get a bit over the hill town thing so we escaped to a day spa and slobbed about in thermal springs for a couple of hours. Surprising thing was we didn’t go pruney – maybe it was the minerals in the water. We had to get out of the pool every 20 minutes – safety issues and all that. But it really was a fantastic and relaxing experience, a first for both of us.
Visited another lovely place called Passignano sur Trasimeno which was on the other side of the lake to Castiligone del Lago. It was great cause it was right on the water, very south coast of NSW in feel. Even the old town was right near the edge (only up a bit of a hill, of course!). Found a trattoria where we’ve had one of the best meals of the trip. Simple dishes of the day – perch with cherry tomatoes and basil, and chicken and courgettes, with steamed vegetables on the side. Rich, tasty flavours matched with a fantastic white wine. Enjoyed walking along the water and exploring the little village with the winding, cobbled alleys – talked to a number of friendly cats lazing in the sun.
Went back to Cortona in the afternoon for ice-cream and a hike to the very top of the town and its basilica for amazing views before treating ourselves to some ‘culture’. The town was having a medieval festival – lots of different events that involved dressing up. We also got a couple of free concerts that night. The first was a Mexican classical guitar performance by 4 very talented young men (one was only 16, but incredibly gifted). The second concert was a visiting men’s choir from Vienna. That didn’t begin until 9:30pm so we didn’t last all the way through cause we had to drive the 30 minutes back to Paciano afterwards and were both very tired after another big day. The old theatre was a joy to visit though. Traditional proscenium arch, raked stage and all, and cute box seating (4 levels) that went all the way around the auditorium. Very nice.
The wonderful thing about this area of Italy is the sheer beauty of the landscape. We haven’t seen anything like it before, and it seems to be getting more and more breathtaking. It’s impossible to tire of the views!