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Hello Again, London!
  • Writer's picturesbcrosby .

Dawgs, Hills, and Pottery!

When we realized how close we would be to the University of Georgia’s (UGA) campus in Cortona, we decided it warranted a visit during our stay. Cortona is a lovely hillside town surrounded by ancient walls, sitting high above the southern Tuscan valley. It was founded by the Umbrians around 600 BC, later conquered by the Etruscans, and eventually colonized by the Romans.

UGA’s campus sits at nearly the highest point of the town, requiring one of the steepest and longest treks up to reach it. There are three buildings, two of which house classrooms and one a residence. UGA has operated a study away program here for more than 50 consecutive years, and five of its colleges offer a number of classes throughout the summer, fall, and spring semesters, as well as a shortened “Maymester” option. After trekking up the hill that never ends, we were greeted by director Chris Robinson, who gave us a full tour of the facilities.

After the tour, we explored the town and had a lovely lunch on an outdoor patio near the main piazza (and saw a postal delivery woman nearly lose her scooter as it began to roll down the hill, were it not for Kim yelling and getting her attention!).

After seeing photographs of Cortona’s Basilica of Santa Margherita online, I am so disappointed we didn’t take the time to visit this gorgeous church. I am obsessed with photos of ceilings and this structure would have provided a canvas of photo opportunities. Oh well, a good reason to visit this town again someday. Or perhaps UGA Cortona would like to offer a marketing course during a future summer session? I just might know someone!

After leaving Cortona, we drove along the coastal town surrounding Lake Trasimeno to enjoy the beautiful water views (but oddly no boats on the lake), before making our way toward our final stop of the day, Deruta.

Deruta is an interesting little gem of a town. Not much is recorded about the town’s history, other than it’s considered the center of Italian pottery and chinaware. The town was decimated in the 15th century by the plague and its city walls collapsed due to lack of maintenance. Over time, people returned to this town and during the 16th century, it became famous for the production of high quality Italian majolica, the white-glazed pottery of the Italian Renaissance.

(Deruta photos courtesy of Kim!)

The town was virtually empty of tourists, or even locals for that matter, when we walked its streets. However, there was shop after shop of artisans selling their artistic creations. Each shop had its own unique style – from the traditionally ornate Deruta Raffaellesco to more contemporary pieces, and each shop had an artist fast at work on a new piece. We opted to purchase four small bowls from the lovely Miriam Ceramics with the most unique and intricately detailed designs and a color palette unlike most of the pieces we’ve seen. They just so happen to feature my favorite color combo!

Friday was our warmest day yet, so we opted to spend the day poolside, relaxing, reading, and enjoying the company of friends. Our final evening included celebrating the 60th birthdays of Nan, Kim, Mark, and Karen, with a wonderful multi-course meal by chef Andrea. The beautiful weather prompted our alfresco dinner on the patio, while overlooking the spectacular Tuscan sunset!

Departures early Saturday morning came with goodbye hugs and cheers from everyone recounting a week full of beauty, friendship, and memories.

After a two-hour drive to Rome, Mark and I boarded our flight back to London for the final part of our trip. Arrivederci alla prossima, bella Italia!


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