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Cortona

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Attractions Details

📌 Address

52044 Cortona, Province of Arezzo, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps

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expert
Ambra
Local tour guide
"Visit Cortona in the late afternoon when the tour buses have left; you'll enjoy the authentic atmosphere of the town and possibly catch a stunning sunset over the Valdichiana. Insider tip: there's a little sandwich shop hidden away on Via Janelli – the owners use locally sourced ingredients and it's a favorite among the locals for a quick and delicious lunch."

What is Cortona?

Cortona, perched atop a steep hill overlooking the scenic Valdichiana valley, is one of the true jewels of Tuscany. This charming town is enclosed by stone walls dating back to Etruscan and Roman times, and its cobblestone streets whisper tales of the past to those who walk upon them. Its elevated position offers spectacular views of the surrounding countryside, with Lake Trasimeno gleaming in the distance – a sight that has inspired artists and writers for centuries.

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The architecture of Cortona is a rich tapestry of historical periods, with impressive edifices and enchanting squares that reveal layers of history, from the Etruscans to the Renaissance and beyond. It's a place where you can feel the essence of Tuscan life, slowly meandering through the narrow lanes, discovering hidden nooks, and experiencing the warmth of local hospitality. High above the hustle and bustle of modern life, Cortona is a serene escape into a world where time seems to stand still.

History of Cortona

Delving into the history of Cortona is to unearth the story of Tuscany itself. As one of the oldest hill towns in the region, Cortona's origins stretch back to the Etruscan civilization, as evidenced by its ancient walls and tombs scattered around the area. Through the lens of time, Cortona witnessed Roman conquest, became an influential medieval commune, and later, flourished under the rule of the Medici family during the Renaissance.

The town's strategic importance was bolstered by its location and fortifications, and like many Tuscan cities, it saw its fair share of conflict and power struggles. However, Cortona managed to retain its cultural and architectural heritage, which is vividly reflected in its museums, palaces, and churches. Notable events, like the Siege of Florence, reverberate through the very stones of Cortona's buildings, echoing a past filled with both turmoil and triumphs.

Furthermore, Cortona gained new international fame with the popularity of Frances Mayes' book, "Under the Tuscan Sun," which later became a movie. This work brought the town's timeless appeal and lifestyle to light, enticing travelers and dreamers alike to explore its winding streets and rediscover the beauty of simplicity.

Why is Cortona Important?

Cortona's significance is multifaceted; it is not only a testament to its storied past but also a living, breathing center of culture, art, and gastronomy. As a historical site, it showcases centuries of architecture and artistry that have survived the ravages of time. Its importance in Etruscan history cannot be overstated – the city is one of the twelve cities of the ancient Etruscan League, bringing a wealth of archaeological treasures and insights into this pre-Roman civilization.

Artistically, Cortona is renowned for birthing numerous prominent painters, such as Luca Signorelli and Pietro da Cortona, whose contributions to Renaissance art echo through the ages. The Museo Diocesano in Cortona houses several masterpieces, including works by Fra Angelico, ensuring the town's importance as an artistic hub. And let's not forget the culinary heritage; the region's cuisine with its heart in the rustic and the flavor steeped in tradition imparts another layer of significance to Cortona.

From an experiential perspective, Cortona's genuine Italian small-town vibe provides visitors with an authentic slice of Tuscan life. It is the spirit and pulse of Cortona that endear it to those who visit – a place where each stone tells a story and every view is a painting come to life. Cortona embodies what many seek in Tuscany: an unhurried pace, beauty, history, and a touch of romance.

Things to Do & See at Cortona

You could easily lose yourself for days in the meandering alleys of Cortona, each turn revealing yet another beautiful vista or intriguing historical site. A must-visit is the Piazza della Repubblica, the main square where the town hall, with its impressive clock tower, stands as a testament to Cortona's independence during medieval times. Nearby, the Palazzo Comunale invites you to step into the past and feel the weight of history on its ancient stones.

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For art lovers, the MAEC - Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona, housed in the Palazzo Casali, is an unmissable stop. Here, Etruscan artifacts and Renaissance art combine to tell the layered story of Cortona's cultural heritage. Art continues to thrive in Cortona, with numerous galleries and artists' studios – it wouldn't be unusual to stumble upon an artist capturing the beauty of the surroundings on canvas.

Don’t forget to take the opportunity to step into the spiritual heart of Cortona by visiting the Basilica di Santa Margherita, where the saint herself is entombed, and the Eremo Le Celle, a serene monastery just outside of town. And for those who delight in nature walks, the hillside paths offer enchanting views and a chance to experience the olive groves and vineyards up close. Every evening, as the sun sets over the valley, you'll understand why Cortona is more than a destination – it's a feeling, a timeless embrace.

Frequently asked questions

What is Cortona famous for?

Cortona is known for its rich historical and cultural heritage, stretching back to Etruscan and Roman times. It is also famous for its stunning hilltop setting with panoramic views of the Tuscan landscape, as well as for being featured in the book and movie 'Under the Tuscan Sun.'

What are the must-visit historical sites in Cortona, Tuscany?

In Cortona, you shouldn't miss visiting the Etruscan Academy Museum, which houses many ancient artifacts, the Diocesan Museum, home to important Renaissance paintings, and the impressive Fortezza di Girifalco that offers sweeping views. The town's ancient walls and its charming medieval streets are also a must-see.

What activities can visitors enjoy in Cortona?

Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities in Cortona, including exploring the town's historical sites, visiting local artisan shops, indulging in Tuscan culinary delights at traditional restaurants, taking part in wine-tasting tours, and hiking in the surrounding countryside.

Are there any festivals or events in Cortona that tourists can attend?

Yes, Cortona hosts several festivals and events throughout the year, such as the Cortona On The Move photography festival, the Cortona Mix Festival, featuring a mix of music, art, and culture, and the famous Tuscan Sun Festival, which celebrates music, art, wine, and cuisine.

What are the best dining options in Cortona, Tuscany?

Cortona offers a range of dining options from cozy trattorias to elegant restaurants. Some of the best places to dine include Osteria del Teatro, Trattoria Toscana, and La Bucaccia, where guests can enjoy traditional Tuscan cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients.

Attractions Details

📌 Address

52044 Cortona, Province of Arezzo, Italy

Opening Hours

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM

💸 Entrance Fee

Free

Find it on google maps