I highly recommend leasing a villa on this fine country estate, Villa Ugo, just outside Cortona.�� We've done it twice, for three weeks each visit, and will go back as often as time allows.�� The villas are in varying size, and all are marvelously decorated in rustic Tuscan style, but with all modern conveniences and comforts.�� They are at some distance from each other, midway up a mountain, which affords wonderful privacy.�� Each villa is large enough for a family or a few couples, and you can arrange for as much or as little service as you like. Ugo Sabatini, his family and staff are truly great hosts, and can guide you to
Hire cook Adalgisa at least once during your stay, and give her free reign to create a menu for you.�� She is a total delight, and a splendid chef.���� Walk off the excess from your dinner the night before on the old Roman road into town that traverses the property, and leads you uphill past the Francis Mayes house of "Under the Tuscan Sun" legend.�� The estate is far enough from main roads(about 2 km) and train tracks (I estimate about 5 km), making it a very peaceful place to be.�� It is also only 12 and 15 minutes away from the two train stations serving the area, making Florence, Rome or anyplace in between an easy day trip without driving.��
Cortona is a nice little place, and the restaurants are, with few exceptions (the touristy places), great values.�� Our favorites: Try the ravioli al limone at Trattoria Toscana, and if you like liver, La Grotta (the grotto) just off the main square, grills it to perfection. Trattoria Dardano is homey, with delicious everything cooked and served by a lovely family.�� Preludio is a little more
pricey, but worth every euro, particularly if you have the local beef from the Valdichiana... brilliant.�� Drink house wines by the liter anyplace, and save yourself major cash.�� They range from "quite good" to "very good", but even the bottles of local wine these spots offer are good values.�� One word of dining
advice...�� RESERVATIONS!�� You need to make them if you're there during the spring and summer seasons. Plan your evening around the dining, and don't go anyplace to eat in a hurry... we've watched too many other Americans bleating about slow service,�� apparently not accustomed to wonderful food that is
prepared to order.��
Overall, Villa Ugo is an exceptional place to vacation, and the Cortona area is a great place to be as active or as peaceful as you want.