Cortona: Art city of Tuscany,
494 m. above sea level, 22,500 pop.
[ MAP ]
Cortona lies on a hill in a panoramic location among olive groves,
dominating the Chiana valley and Lake Trasimeno. It was an important
Etruscan and Roman settlement and has a distinguished medieval past.
Nowadays, it is one of the most beautiful art cities of Tuscany and Italy.
Large cobblestones pave the narrow streets and small piazzas.
are tiny restaurants and shops selling everything from art to ceramics to
jewelry to leather goods and clothes. Nothing in Tuscany will impress and
astonish the traveler more than his walks, climbs, rather, up and down
Cortona through a maze of narrow precipitous streets between the sombre
palaces of hewn stone founded on the naked rock, the cliffs and boulders
that a hundred generations have been powerless to wear away.
Piazza della Repubblica: Hearth of the city, it
hosts the 12th C's Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), with its crenellated
tower; on the other side emerges the "Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo"
The piazza is linked with Piazza Casali, that preserves the
ancient features and houses the "Museum dell'Accademia Etrusca".
Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca: founded in 1727,
is hosted in Palazzo Casali. It boasts rare ancient Etruscan finds and
Roman remains, including the famous big bronze chandelier adorned with
satyrs and sirens (4 C b.c.) In addition, it preserves several Egyptian
and Roman works of art, mosaics, coins, medals, terracottas, bucchero
ware works, medieval objects etc., as well as, many paintings, of note is
"Madonna with St. Giovanni" by Pinturicchio, "Nativity" by Luca
Signorelli, "Madonna with Saints" by Pietro da Cortona and "Madonna with
Saints" by Lorenzo di Bicci
Duomo: Romanesque built between the 15th and
16th centuries above a pre-existent Roman parish church of which it is
possible to see some remains. It has Renaissance interiors.
The Cathedral has a three nave interior divided by pillars and with interesting works of art,
especially in the apse. On the third altar on the left there is a
famous Nativity by Pietro Berrettini. There is also a beautiful marble
ciborium attributed to the Cortonese, Ciuccio di Nuccio set into the end
part of the same wall. In the presbytery there are some interesting pantings
which are attributable to the works of Signorelli. There is a 14th
century Pietą in the end chapel on the right. The Mosaic by Gino
Severini of a Sacred Heart on the third altar on the right is also worth
Museo Diocesano: It is one of the most
important museums of Tuscany, thanks to the richness of the works on
display, among which are several masterpieces of Italian painters. It
lies in front of the Duomo and preserves mainly pictures of the 14th and
15th centuries. Of particular interest are some works by Pietro
Lorenzetti (Madonna with Angels), Luca Signorelli (Deposition), Beato
, Madonna with Saints a triptych by Sassetta, a
2nd century Roman sarcophagus and the famous reliquary Vagnucci (1457).
It also preserves some frescoes by Vasari and a beautiful painted
crucifix by Lorenzetti.
Church of San Francesco: Gothic church restored
in 17th C. It preserves some pictures, and the Gothic tomb of bishop
Ubertini. On the high altar is a precious reliquary of the Byzantine
San Nicolo': Elegant 15th C
Romanesque-style church among cypress trees with very
graceful portico. The loggia on the left is made up of six slim columns
with corinthian capitals as bases. On the main altar there is the
Gonfalon, one of Luca Signorelli's masterpieces, depicting the
Deposition of Jesus in the Sepulchre, which was painted around 1510. On
the left-hand wall there is another fresco by Signorelli, which was
plastered over in 1768 and discovered in 1847. It is of The Madonna and
Child with saints. (a sight not to be missed)
Sanctuary of St. Margherita: The Church rises
from an enchanting location on Cortona's hilltop, and from the church
square visitors can enjoy a beautiful panorama. On the high altar it
preserves the mummified body of St. Margherita da Cortona and a nice
12th century ligneous crucifix. From the church square visitors can
enjoy a beautiful panorama.
Fortezza Medicea: On the hilltop emerges the
trapezoidal mass of the fortress, with four large bastions. It is a
beautiful example of military architecture of the 1500's. Nowadays, it
is also known as the "Fortezza del Girifalco" - Very panoramic.
Outside the city walls: Madonna del Calcinaio,
elegant Renaissance church built in 15th century. It is shaped like a
Latin cross with octagonal dome. Inside there is the miraculous
venerated image of "Madonna del Calcinaio" (14th C)
The "Mostra Mercato Nazionale del Mobile Antico" takes place in
Cortona from the Saturday before the last Sunday of August to the second
Sunday of September.
It is one of the most important antique furniture fairs in Europe. The
exhibition is housed in Palazzo Vagnotti, a superb example of XVII century
architecture, located in the old town center. The outstanding scenery of
the exhibition, together with furnishings bring to mind the great princely
mansions, making the Cortona event original and noteworthy. A special
commission rigorously selects the exhibitors. Furniture, jewelry, tapestry
and bronzes are some of the objects displayed together in the exhibition.
Giostra dell'Archidado: - historical recalling of 1397 's archery
contest between the Quintiere of Cortona in celebration of the wedding of
Francesco Casali & Antonia Salimbeni in that year.
The Joust of the Archidado, which dates from the Middle Ages to honor St.
Mark and St. Margaret with magnificent costumed pageantry, drummers,
buglers, amazing flag-tossing competitions and symbolic presentations of
gifts to the town and church hierarchy. The Archidado takes place in
Piazza Signorelli, the next Sunday after the holiday of the Assumption.
Sagra della Bistecca (Beef Steak Festival ) Date of the event:
14 - 15 August
The "Sagra della Bistecca" is a gastronomic event, which celebrates the
meat of the famous Valdichiana veal. It takes place outdoors, in the
comfortable gardens of the Parterre. Every year more and more people go to
Cortona and taste thousands of "bistecca", an inch thick charcoal-broiled
steak with a bone.
The "Porcini Mushroom Festival" (late in August)
It is within convenient driving distance of the great destinations of
Tuscany and Umbria: Siena, Arezzo, Assisi, Perugia, Orvieto, Todi,
Spoleto, and many more. Rome and Florence are easy to reach.
By Air: The closest airports are Perugia and Florence, but for
international flights Rome or Pisa.
By Car or by Train : Cortona can be easily reached either by car or
by train, being served by the Autostrada A1, (Valdichiana exit),
State Road SS 71 and the Milan-Florence-Rome railway. (Terontola-Cortona
railway station is 194 km from Rome, 122 km from Florence)