I was in Cortona for six days around NYE 2013/2014. Six days was a lot around the holidays, as a lot of the things I had looked forward to doing were closed or not offered between Christmas and New Year’s. So I had a lot of “down time”… and I’m not really a “down time” sort of person.
Don’t get me wrong – I like taking an hour or so and sipping a spritz in a caffé as much as anyone else. I hate running around from place to place trying to fit too much into a limited period of time. I enjoy a relaxed pace when I travel but never before had I had DAYS – literally, full days – where there was nothing new to see and nowhere new to go. And so I spent a lot of time hiking outside the walls of the small town, as well as enjoying Cortona’s public park.
It’s a simple park – one large stretch with trees on either side, some benches looking out over the valley, a fountain. But simple can be lovely, and this certainly was.
The centerpiece of the fountain is a bit strange… perhaps there’s a myth or legend that would explain it, but I certainly don’t know it if there is. Two long fish or serpents are wrapped around two young boys, holding them upside down, tails – and feet – in the air.
At the entrance to the park is an incredibly moving statue by Cortonese artist Delfo Paoletti. It’s a WWII memorial depicting an angel lifting a fallen soldier into heaven.
I stood looking at that poignant image longer than I’ve looked at any statue of Roman gods in a museum. This one has incredible depth and a meaning that we can all feel connected to, no matter our origins. Honoring our fallen soldiers is a sentiment that unites us, no matter what side of the battle lines we were on. Make sure you search it out the next time you’re in Cortona.