Today is our last one in Cortona. Tomorrow, we'll hop a bus, then a train to Rome. Although we had tentative plans for our last days in Cortona, what we've found is that we really just want to hang out. Sleep. Eat. Read. Write. Walk down to the little store and buy olive oil. Get a few onions for tonight's frittata. Drink some coffee. Enjoy the way the sun glows on the back balcony before it begins to set. Bundle up in a hat, scarf, gloves and sweater just to sit on said balcony with mugs of tea, discussing everything and nothing.
I have found that most travel guides will help you find every "hidden gem," monument, landmark, trattoria, gift shop, etc. And I love that stuff as much as the next traveler. But you know what I've loved most of all during this trip? Washing our dinner dishes in the carrera marble sink, plunging my hands into the soapy water and scrubbing the pots, rinsing our caffe cups. Trust me, I love staying in hotels and not worrying about cleaning up after myself, but I have truly enjoyed the feeling of normal life that doing dishes and hanging laundry can provide.
Behind Casa San Marco, there is a giardino d'infanza - day care. Today, as I stood on the back balcony admiring the expansive view, I watched the mommies and nonnas drop their bambini off, shuttling the precious little darlings -- each and every child clad in puffy coats, puffy boots and knit hats with big bobbing balls on the top -- along the cobblestone alleyway. I saw an older woman in sensible shoes and a scarf tied around her head as she hung the laundry out to dry in the cold breeze. I heard the downstairs neighbors greeting the construction workers down the lane. Normal lives. This is not just the town where tourists flock to absorb some sense of magical realism per the autobiographical accounts of an American ex-pat. It is a town where generations of families have lived and worked and had babies and died for centuries.
And now, in a very small sense, I am a part of it, too. As we've run our remaining errands around town -- shipping home heavy items and unnecessary clothing to lighten our suitcases before going to Rome, buying last-minute souvenirs, purchasing vegetables for our last meal at Casa San Marco -- each shopkeeper has asked, "When will you be back? Prossimo anno?"
Perhaps. I would like to think that once a place gets into your blood, you somehow seep into its soil, too. I don't need to live here full-time, but when I'm here, I need to live fully.