About an hour’s drive south of Florence, in the southern Tuscan province of Arezzo, high in the hills near Lake Trasimeno, site of Hannibal’s great defeat of the Roman Army under Gaius Flaminius in June 217 B.C., lies the commune of Cortona. Founded by the Etruscans, Cortona is known by the expression “mother of Troy, grandmother of Rome” due the myths which connect the town to the founding of both of those great cities. More recently, the commune is famous for being the setting of the book and film Under the Tuscan Sun.
Exactly 1782 years and 2 days after Rome’s defeat by Hannibal’s armies, Sasha and I, along with our dear friends Cosimo, Christine, Domenico and Angelina, arrived in Cortona.
Of all the Etruscan gateways to Cortona, there is only one that remains intact, the Porta Bifora, called “La Bucaccia” or “evil hole”. La Bucaccia owes its fame (and its name and closure until 1996) to 1258, when the citizens of Arezzo and the exiled Cortonese Guelphs entered Cortona through this gateway and sacked the town.
Just up Via Ghibellina from the Porta Bifora sits a stunning example of Tuscan cuisine at its finest, Hostaria La Bucaccia. This restaurant, heretofore overlooked by Micheline, is sure to one day receive the star it well deserves. Run by Romano Magi and his exceptional, master chef of a wife Agostina, with ample help from their adorable daughter Francesca, La Bucaccia is not only the best restaurant in Cortona, but of all the places we ate on our Italian tour, it was my favorite.
Romano and Agostina Magi and Chad
Entrance to Hostaria La Bucaccia
The interior of La Bucaccia is the former cellars of the 13th century Palazzo Cattani
Cinghiale Paradise - wild boar sausage, prosciutto con melone, salame, finocciono with apricot, and bressola with apples. You sure can't get this in the US.
Carpaccio of black pork with fresh greens and balsamic
Tagliatelle with fresh black truffle, fresh ingredients perfectly cooked with that wonderful truffle flavor
Sant’Egidio style chestnut Ravioli filled with ricotta and sprinkled with mint flavored porcini mushroom sauce
Pappardelle with wild boar ragu; savory and sweet, rich and delicious, this is a classic cortonese/tuscan dish that perfectly captures place and transcends time
An up close look at one of my favorite pasta dishes ever: pappardelle al cinghiale ragu (wild boar)
Sliced steak of black pork in a peppercorn sauce - an Agostina speciality
Grilled steak with lemon
Grilled steak topped with a smoky bacon flavored sauce
Grilled steak in a sweet red wine reduction sauce
Chocolate cake with cream and chocolate sauce
Biscotti perfectly compliment Vin Santo as a way to finish a great meal
Vin Santo 3 ways, all of them delicious
In this small but well equipped kitchen, Agostina makes magic happen
In Agostina's kitchen, with husband and partner Romano and sous chef