If you've just arrived in Cortona, Italy (the Tuscan hill-town made famous in Frances Mayes' memoir, Under the Tuscan Sun), I recommend dining on your first night at Ristorante Tonino. Your seat on the outdoor terrace guarantees a spectacular panoramic view of Camuchia (the modern town below Cortona) and its surroundings, including a broad valley and Lake Trasimeno. Dining at night provides the additional treat of viewing Camuchia's city lights and the blinking lights of the little trains (Tren Italia) that service the area.
Ristorante Tonino serves up traditional Tuscan fare including fine wines from the region and delicious homemade pastas and pizzas. The food is moderately priced and the restaurant's location just off Piazza Garibaldi is a gentle oasis in a town that has become a bit overtaken by tourism.
Perhaps Ristorante Tonino escapes some of the mayhem because it is situated at the foot of Via Nazionale, the main drag through the center of Cortona. The town center, with its numerous souvenir shops, wine stores, restaurants, Etruscan museum, and theater is a five-minute walk from Ristorante Tonino. But, you'll have a very steep hill to climb to get there. As one resident told me during a recent visit, "Cortona doesn't have a gym because Cortona is a gym!"
© 2013 AFAR Media