Under the Renovated Tuscan Sun
Story and photos by Tom Weber
the Tuscan Sun, the 2003 romantic-comedy movie (read, chick flick)
loosely based on Frances Mayes' 1996 memoir of the same name, stars
Diane Lane as a recently divorced San Francisco writer who drops everything,
takes off for Tuscany,
purchases a dilapidated Italian villa in the town of Cortona and brings
it back to life.
Guess what? My band of merry media, guests
of Insight Vacations' Country Roads of Italy itinerary,
has just arrived in Cortona and we're going for a stroll to see Ms.
Mayes' creative hideaway the real Villa Bramasole, not the stand-in
used for the movie, which, by the way, went on sale last year for a
whopping 9.5 million euro.
Down the idyllic cypress tree-lined lane
we go with Belinda, our Insight tour director-slash-story teller, who
waxes poetic about Ms. Mayes, the book, the movie, the beauty of being
under that large ball of hot plasma when it crosses over Tuscany, etc.,
Rounding a bend, someone shouts, There
We begin to see it peeking through the
trees and as we draw closer it comes into full view. Well, sort of.
Shockingly, Villa Bramasole is surrounded
by bright orange plastic fencing and hidden by lots of scaffolding.
Our collective faces drop. It appears that Ms. Mayes, like in her 304-page
New York Times bestseller, is renovating the hilltop estate again.
Oh well, at least I can say that I stood outside the property and imaged
what it's likely to be like when the construction crews leave.
Disappointed, we trudge back up the lane,
climb aboard the awaiting motorcoach, then drive to one of the ancient
arches that serves as a passageway into the centro storico (historical
center) of Cortona.
We'll meet back in the main square,
right in front of the Palazzo Comune, in 45 minutes, Belinda
So, off we hustle in a hundred different
directions to see what each of us can see of this colorful hilltop town
a cultural center of the Valdichiana (Chiana Valley), where
Umbria and Tuscany embrace. Here's what I managed to frame in the very
short time that I was out and about under Frances Mayes' beloved Tuscan
sun in laid-back, carefree Cortona.
Everyone now on board and accounted for,
Belinda, following the villa renovation faux pas, does her best
to make things right and gives out our new GPS coordinates by asking
us if we'd be up for a visit to a Chianti wine estate followed by a
special lunch with Tuscan nobility.
as long as you issue us
hard hats!, someone wisecracks from the back of the motorcoach.
For complete information on Insight
Vacations' 12 Italian premium and luxury-escorted, business-class
motorcoach itineraries where you'll stretch your legs and go
in search of hidden gems around Umbria and Tuscany as well as
over 100 journeys throughout Europe, just click HERE,
or call toll free (888) 680-1241, or contact your travel agent.
See you soon in the heart of Chianti wine
country, and bring along a corkscrew.
Ciao for now.
in Spello; Take
Me Home Country Roads; The
Olive Groves of Ragani; Saintly
in Perugia; Sipping
Vino and Savoring Vistas in Tuscany