A Holiday in Medieval Cortona

Tuscandream 10/09/2014

Cortona is a picturesque medieval walled city set high on the slopes of Mount St. Egidio and overlooking the Val di Chiana and Lake Trasimeno. Known to many as the setting for the movie Under The Tuscan Sun, Cortona is a vibrant town well worth exploring for its historical importance, fantastic shopping, breathtaking views  and its fabulous cuisine!

TuscanDream offers several phenomenal villas in Cortona, including the sensational ten bedroom air conditioned Villa Laura that was the villa used for the movie Under the Tuscan Sun.  With its impeccable furnishings and beautiful gardens Villa Laura is one of the finest villas in all of Tuscany – if not all of Italy.   For smaller groups, looking for a true bargain the fantastic Torre Degli Elci, is a wonderful five bedroom air conditioned villa located just below Cortona and may be one of the best bargains in all of Tuscany.

Originally part of Umbria, Cortona came into the Etruscan empire sometime around 600 B.C., before being passed on to the Romans, the Ghibellines, the Napoli, the Medicis, the House of Lorraine, and ultimately being incorporated into present day Tuscany in 1859.  Culturally each of these kingdoms and fiefdoms left a heritage which has created a treasure trove of art and tradition which continues today.   The Etruscan and Medieval walls that fortified the town against attack from below are still standing, and the narrow paved Roman perpendicular streets are lined with craftsmen’s shops offering fine antique furniture, paintings and modern art.

The city is marked by its steep hills, and those coming must be prepared for a long climb up if they want to see everything!  One starts their exploration of the town at the magnificent Piazza Garibaldi, often referred to by its pre-unification name, the Piazza Carbonaia, a short walk from the escalators from the main car parking structure – as non-residents are not allowed to drive within the city walls.  Then it’s an uphill walk to the picturesque Piazza della Repubblica, one of the largest squares in Cortona where the gorgeous sixteen century town hall is, graced by its magnificent bell tower and clock.  TuscanDream often brings brides and grooms to this stunning site for civil weddings.  Adjacent to the Piazza Repubblica is the wonderful Piazza Signorelli, where every third Sunday of the month there is a great open air antiquities market.

Following the Via Casali tourists will find the Piazza del Duomo and the 15th Century Church of Santa Maria Assunta, housing the work of major Renaissance artists Cristofanello and Laparelli, as well as paintings by Berrettini.   There is also the Diocesan Museum which has Lorenzetti’s “Christ Carrying the Cross” and Annunciation” by Beato Angelico.

Cortona has some amazing restaurants, one of our favourites is the lovely family run la Bucaccia, where traditional Tuscan fare is served with a smile – and a fantastic bottle of wine!    The city is also known for it’s Smeriglio Ardito wines, and the Baracchi Vineyard estate on the east slope of Cortona is a charming winery with a family tradition of wine-making since 1860.

Cortona is easy to get to.  It’s located only 2 ½ hour drive from Rome’s Fiumicino airport, and a 1 ½ hour south from Florence’s Peretola airport.   By train you can book a train to Camucia, just a five minute drive down the hill from Cortona! 

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