Two things have transferred over from UGA Athens to UGA Cortona: the hilly campus and the shitty wifi. Russell Hill, I am sorry for ever cursing you. You have nothing on the hill up to the dorms here. I’m telling y’all, this thing is like at a 70 degree incline-sometimes I have to stop half way up because I actually think I’m not going to make it.
Nestled in the side of a very steep mountain is the sleepy little Medieval village of Cortona. Its cobble stone streets, stone buildings, and ancient churches give it a fairytale town feel, reminding me of the movie Tangled. Upon our arrival, we were greeted by the major of Cortona. She is cute lil Italian woman who stressed the importance of the bond between the Cortanese and the UGA Cortona program. After 47 years, UGA has integrated itself into the Cortona community; the only pub in town boasts UGA flags, alumni t-shirts, and other UGA paraphernalia.
The Cortonese were quick to welcome us into their home. A very small town means everyone is friends or family, giving Cortona its own personality. Almost all the shops are family owned and all the food is authentic, with ingredients only from local areas. One of my new favorite things to do here is go to the frutta e verdura shop and talk to the owner. I point at the food and ask “Come si dice in italiano?” He responds in Italian and I tell him the English equivalent. We manage conversation through broken English and Italian, but I find it so amazing that he wants to learn English just as much as I want to learn Italian.
Dinner is always a fiasco here. First off, I don’t think they believe in vegetables or eating anything other than carbs, pasta, and red meat. We start with the prima piatta of a pasta or risotto dish. Next, some sort of vegetable is served with a heaping portion of either beef or pork. Portions are enormous and usually impossible to finish, but the food is pretty damn good (sorry Bolton). Twice a week we have fruit for dessert, but the rest of the days are filled with rich, traditional dolce. The molten lava cake on the first nigh though>>>>>>>
Life in Cortona has been very easy to adjust to. Purtroppo, I think that means it’s going to be very hard to leave. I love how familiar it all seems so far, and how eager all the townspeople are to get to know us. It also isn’t too shabby that the best gelato I have ever had in my entire life is here (seriously, Snoopy’s is getting its own post sometime soon).
Another transfer from UGA Athens to UGA Cortona is the tendency to go out on Thursday nights. Yesterday before dinner, we fumbled down the vertical drop off the hill into town to the Enoteca. We met Marco, someone near and dear to the program, who filled out glasses with 5 different wines from nearby vineyards. We tried what seemed like all the wines under the Tuscan sun-and it was all accompanied by fresh cheese and crusty bread!! “Okay best for last,” he tells me in accented English, filling my glass up half way. “This bottle, 165 euros”. Uhhhh….. I’m used to like 7.00 Cupcake so this was just a little step up for me. Hands down best red I’ve ever had (no surprise). Marco later invited us to dinner after the tasting, and told us that they all go out after and that “the party doesn’t start till I walk in”. We politely declined due to previous dinner plans, but promised to tag along next week. “Ah, okay. Ciao e Benvenuti a Cortona!!”he responds, again with that Cortonese hospitality.