Algernon and Ilsa spent the summer in a cottage on the grounds of Castello di Porciano in the Casentino Valley, where I joined them in late August. They were eager to do some sightseeing in the area and I was happy to oblige!
Soon after I arrived, our hostess took us on a jaunt to nearby Strada in Casentino, where Algernon and Ilsa explored the Loggia del Grano in the town center. Then it was up the hill to Castel San Niccolò, where we walked through the village and gathered windfall apples.
Our next trip was to Anghiari, site of a famous battle in the 15th century. Anghiari is lovely and we enjoyed our stroll around town and the views from the walls. While we were there, Algernon and Ilsa posed for a photo with their “Elka Strong” bracelet. Elka is a friend of mine who is battling cancer and her husband had these bracelets made. He asked people to take pictures of the bracelets wherever they were worn and Algernon and Ilsa wanted to participate.
On another outing, we went to Deruta, where we visited Antica Fornace Deruta; its shop, furnace, and museum were fascinating. Giovanni, the owner, kindly took a picture of all four of us, posed against the outside wall of the shop, which had pieces of pottery embedded in it.
Before heading back to Porciano, we made a stop at Santuario Madonna del Bagno, outside of the historic center of the town. Inside this church, the walls are lined with votive tiles, many of which depict the deceased’s manner of death. After looking at the tiles, Algernon and Ilsa stepped outside to have their photo taken underneath an ornamental orange tree.
Another day trip was to Cortona, which was wonderful. After a two-hour drive, we took a few minutes to restore the tissues at an outdoor café before setting off to explore the town. We had a great time and Algernon and Ilsa had their picture taken in front of the Palazzo Comunale in the Piazza della Repubblica.
The final excursion of my visit was to Montemignaio for the polenta festival. This was mainly a communal lunch in the town square, with different preparations of polenta being served. We didn’t have lunch, but the drive was beautiful and the town interesting.
By the time I left Italy, winter was approaching. Algernon and Ilsa were hoping to stay on the Casentino for several more weeks, but were feeling the cold. I outfitted them with hats and scarves to help stave off the chill before heading home.