Cortona Holiday Guide by TuscanyChic

Holidays in Cortona, a useful holiday guide to visit the city under the Tuscan sun

Planning your holiday in Cortona? Find useful tourist info and great tips to plan your vacation to this fabulous hill town in Tuscany!

Featured in the book “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes, then made into a lovely movie, Cortona has become a popular destination, particularly loved by Americans.

From the top of a hill planted with olive groves and cypress trees, Cortona dominates the Val di Chiana valley and the Lake Trasimeno, forming a magnificent natural terrace with an unforgettable and never ending view. 

I’ve been there many times, Cortona is enchanting! This ancient hamlet with thick walls retains a unique and intriguing atmosphere. Its location is strategic to visit fantastic Italian sights. Definitely one of the best places for a vacation in Tuscany!

Location of Cortona

Cortona is located southeast of Tuscany at the border with Umbria, another beautiful and scenic region in Italy. Montepulciano is only 30 minutes away, while Arezzo and Perugia are the nearest largest towns. 15 minutes south of Cortona lies the splendid Trasimeno Lake with its delightful villages facing the water.


Day Trips from Cortona

Thanks to its extraordinary location, Cortona is an excellent starting point to visit many sensational attractions both in Tuscany as well as in Umbria. You can start by visiting Florence, Arezzo, Siena, Montepulciano, Pienza, and Montalcino in Tuscany, and then go east to visit Gubbio, Assisi, Spoleto, and Perugia in Umbria. The location is also very convenient to go exploring the southern part of both regions: Radicofani, Monte Amiata, Pitigliano, Orvieto, Civita di Bagnoregio, the Bolsena Lake. Find a list of what to see around Cortona here. 

How to get to Cortona

You can conveniently get to Cortona both by car and by public transportation. There are 2 train stations: Camucia-Cortona, and Cortona-Terontola. The direct train from Florence Santa Maria Novella station to Cortona takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes. The Camucia station is the nearest to the town; once at the station take a bus uphill to reach Cortona’s historic center. Visit here for train schedules.

The nearest airports to Cortona are Firenze Peretola (120 km) and Perugia Sant’Egidio or PEG (60 km).

What to see in Cortona: Top Attractions in Cortona


visiting cortona in tuscany

From the top of a hill planted with olive groves and cypress trees, Cortona dominates the Val di Chiana valley and the Lake Trasimeno, forming a magnificent natural terrace with an unforgettable and never ending view. 

Though the town is small, is offers quite many interesting things to visit.

  • Via Nazionale and Cortona’s Town Hall

The town’s main street, Via Nazionale, runs straight and is characterized by steep streets on both sides. The heart of the medieval city is around Piazza della Repubblica and Piazza Signorelli. Facing Piazza della Repubblica, one of the largest squares in Cortona, is the characteristic Town Hall with the peculiar tall staircase and the beautiful clock tower.

  • Fortezza del Girifalco

At the very top of the town is the imposing Fortress with 4 bastions, built by the Medici on the remains of ancient Etruscan and Roman fortifications. The square in front of the fortress offers superb views down the valley toward the Trasimeno Lake.

  • Museo Diocesano

In front of the Duomo is this small museum with a valuable collection of paintings, from Beato Angelico and Duccio to Pietro Lorenzetti and Luca Signorelli.

  • Museo dell’ Accademia Etrusca (MAEC)

The beautiful Palazzo Casali in Piazza Signorelli hosts one of the most important museums of Etruscan finds. The most valuable piece is definitely a surprising and beautiful oil lamp in bronze.

  • Eremo delle Celle

Cortona Eremo di CelleConsisting of houses clinging to the hillside, this beautiful Franciscan monastery preserves the oratory of the first companions of San Francesco, that in 1210 began an apostolic journey that included Cortona. This is a place full of peace and silence.

  • Piazza Garibaldi

From this vast square you get a wide view of the Val di Chiana to Lake Trasimeno and Montepulciano. Do stop here to enjoy this breathtaking panorama.

  • The Duomo

Next the ancient walls, Piazza del Duomo offers panoramic views over the valley. The Romanesque cathedral of Cortona contains numerous beautiful paintings.

  • Churches of Cortona

Cortona has many beautiful churches, amongst which the 15th century Church of San Niccolo’,  that houses two precious works of Luca Signorelli, and the Church of San Domenico with beautiful works by Signorelli and a fresco by Fra Beato Angelico. Other churches worth visiting are the Church of San Francesco and the Church of Santa Maria Nuova.

  • Etruscan Tombs

There are many beautiful Etruscan tombs to visit in the area, like the two splendid Etruscan burial mounds located at the foot of the hill of Cortona, called Melone I and II, characterized by beautiful decorations.

Best Stays in Cortona

In and near Cortona are lots of splendid hotels and accommodations to stay. My personal suggestions include Relais La Corte dei Papi and Hotel Villa Marsili. La Corte dei Papi is an exclusive and luxurious retreat in the scenic countryside surrounding Cortona. Spa, restaurant and cooking classes will make your holiday even more enthralling. Hotel Villa Marsili is an elegant 4 star hotel and historic villa enjoying a panoramic location in the heart of Cortona.

Best Restaurants in Cortona

Among the many good restaurants in and near Cortona, I suggest LA FETT’UNTA, La Saletta, and Restaurant La Bucaccia.

If you have any more questions and are looking for a tailored made itinerary, just ask! 🙂


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