If you travel south from Arezzo, one of Tuscany’s most charming art towns, you enter the Valdichiana, wonderful and prosperous area of Tuscany, home to the famous Chianina cattle, source of the most delicious bistecca Fiorentina, incredibly tasty and genuine steak.
The landscape is enchanting, dotted with small medieval towns here and there, of which Cortona is probably the most inspiring and particular. Perched on the very top of a hill, Cortona is reached through a scenic road winding amongst terraces of vines and olive groves.
Once up in town an authentic spectacular and incredibly vast panorama opens to embrace all the Valdichiana, with the wonderful Trasimeno Lake in the background; the view is really immense, it seems to never end, stretching throughout the hills down to the plains.
The view is even more amazing and intriguing at night, with all the lights sparkling like stars in the sky.
Entering the village you soon realize how charming and charismatic Cortona is; with its steep streets, ruined Etruscan and Roman walls, narrow alleys, and medieval buildings. Indeed the place has very ancient origins and has almost remained unchanged until today.
There are many good restaurants, good hotels, and many smaller shops selling unique goods and crafts, all will make your stay absolutely pleasant.
Via Nazionale, the main street in town, leads to Piazza della Repubblica, dominated by the beautiful Palazzo Comunale or Town Hall, with its unique and tall staircase and the beautiful clock’s tower. Moving on the left you enter Piazza Signorelli, deriving its name from the great artist Luca Signorelli, pupil of Piero della Francesca.
Piazza Signorelli is home to the 19th century Teatro Signorelli and the important Etruscan Museum MAEC, displaying wonderful Etruscan and Roman finds.
Some scenes of the wonderful movie La Vita è Bella by Roberto Benigni were shot here.
In Piazza del Duomo you will then find the Diocesan Museum, featuring a fine collection of Renaissance art, and where you can also admire the work of Luca Signorelli.
If you continue walking east of town, you’ll meet a steep and characteristic path leading to the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita, patron saint of Cortona, and near it the beautiful Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, the citadel that the Medici built in 1556.
Despite its location in the south east of Tuscany, in recent years, Cortona has become an important tourist destination after Under the Tuscan Sun, successful book by the American Frances Mayes; and even more after the filming of the movie with Diane Lane.
Americans do love Cortona and its extraordinary territory. Indeed the annual Tuscan Sun Festival, taking place in August, began here in 2003, when a group of Americans brought their friends to play music at Teatro Signorelli.
The festival is characterized by an evening musical programme, with cookery demonstrations, art workshops, walking tours, wine tastings, and film screenings during the day. Important and famous personalities attended the event, like Anthony Hopkins John Malkovich, and Jeremy Irons.
Cortona is another perfect destination to spend a great vacation in Tuscany!
Chic Hotels in Cortona
Cortona is a perfect base to explore not just the most beautiful sights of Tuscany but also of the Umbria region. You may consider staying here for your holidays. There are many charming accommodations to choose from, but I recommend you follow my suggestions on the best hotels in Cortona, very special places to stay 🙂