As soon as we stepped out of the car in Anghiari, the breathtaking panoramic views of the Tiber Valley far below the parking lot gave us a glimpse of what lay ahead. Crossing the town road we walked through a stone archway built centuries ago into the side of a fortress wall. We found ourselves at the top of a few dozen wide stone steps that led down to an area of small shops. On either side of the steps were quintessential Tuscany doorways dressed with pots of colorful flowers. I remember passing a large cat resting under a bed sheet drying in the breeze.
Other than us, there were not many tourists walking about, just an occasional local resident going about his or her daily business. We stopped at a few of the shops along the way, and followed the old stone walkway down to a small, open courtyard. There we had a lunch of pizza and wine on the outside terrace of a small restaurant. The pizza was delicious, different from the hometown pizzas I am used to that are buried under melted cheese. While the Anghiari pizza did have small circles of melted cheese, the flavors of fresh basil, garlic, peppers and onions were prominent too.
After lunch we left the courtyard and followed two from our party who had spent time in Anghiari previously. We walked up a steep walkway until we reached the old fortress overlook that wound around the top of the town.
When I realized we were looking down at the Tiber Valley far below, images of Roman Legionaires marching in mile long formations immediately came to mind. I remember seeing a cemetary in the distance, outlined by those iconic Tuscan cedar trees. Like an arrow, a road ran straight across the valley, through small communities and onward until I couldn't distinquish it anymore.
As we slowly walked around the overlook, we came upon an area where actual homes were cut into the ancient stone at the top of the fortress, just across from where we stood on the overlook. Some had small balconies, most had small potted gardens outside the front doors. I so wanted to walk up and knock on those doors and ask if I could see inside. I imagined the inside would be cold and dark, but also imagined they cost a small fortune and recognized they were most likely quite comfortable.
Eventually, we wandered into a green garden in the back of a pub where we found a table overlooking the Tiber Valley with a view that went on forever. We ordered snacks and for some unknown reason a Baileys Irish Cream whiskey over ice came to mind, so I sat sipping my Irish whiskey while enjoying good company and the remarkable Italian countryside.
When dark clouds began to roll in and rain seemed imminent, we reluctantly collected our belongings and left that little piece of paradise heading back to our cars, now walking UP all those charming stone steps that greeted us when we arrived, another cardio challenge.
We went back to the villa where we spent a quiet night of conversation and maybe some wine. Then off to bed with visions of the next day's trip to Cortona where the author of the book, "Under the Tuscan Sun," found her dream home.
To be continued ...
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