Cortona offers beautiful architecture, cobbled streets, squares and spectacular views...
Tuscan hill-town was thrown into the international spotlight a few years ago when it was featured in the International bestseller and subsequent film ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’, which follows American writer Frances Mayes’ discovery of not only a home but romance!
The unquestionable protagonist of the film though is the Tuscan countryside, with its terraced slopes of olives and vineyards and Cortona itself with its beautiful architecture, cobbled streets, squares and spectacular views.
From the town itself, the views are outstanding stretching from the Vadichiana to Lake Trasimeno. The medieval period dominates its streets and buildings and even without its art and historic treasures, the town would be well worth a visit.
Piazza della Repubblica is the most sociable of Cortona’s squares and is a great place to relax in a Café and watch the world go by. Those looking for some history, should spend a few hours in the Museo Diocesano where there is a good collection of Rennaissance art or the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca, which houses paintings, figurines and jewellery. There are many exceptional churches such as the mock-Romanesque Santa Margherita and San Domenico, which are worth taking a look at.
For those searching for some retail therapy, there are a smattering of pleasant boutiques leading to the main square.
How to reach Cortona
The town is a mere 40 minutes from Perugia airport. For better connections, Pisa and Rome airports (Fiumicino and Ciampino) are also within easy reach and approx 2 hrs by car.
Where to eat
This town is not short on restaurants! Some can be very expensive but there are quite a few good choices serving good wholesome Tuscan cuisine. A few to note:
- La Loggietta – overlooking the Piazza della Repubblicca
- Trattoria Dardano in Via Dardano – offers no nonsense good Italian food.
- Osteria del Teatro – small, rustic restaurant with homemade pastas
- Tonino in Piazza Garibaldi – serves a large selection of pasta and offers a great terrace
Where to visit
If you are staying around Cortona, then you will be spoilt for choice for local attractions. Here are a few suggestions from Holiday Homes in Italy:
Across the regional border, you can find the fourth largest lake in Italy, Lake Trasimeno, which has a subtle and sleepy charm and is a great location for swimming, fishing, water sports and horse riding. It takes an hour to drive around its 35-mile circumference. The lake is surrounded by gentle hills covered with olives and vineyards. There are a number of interesting resorts around the lake. Passignano is a lively and modern resort (with an almost hidden old town) with shops, fish restaurants and bars, very popular for the Sunday afternoon ‘Passeggiata’ (the obligatory walk with friends and family). The enticing Castiglione del Lago on the West shore is dominated by a 14th century fortress and has some pleasant beaches. Tuoro and San Feliciano to the south are pleasant, as is Panicale with its picture postcard views over the lake and medieval centre.
Perugia is a star attraction; a stylish and bustling hill city with a strong cultural tradition and some splendid monuments. Being home to many fresco painters during its past, it now attracts students from around the world. It is also the home of the best-known ‘Baci’ chocolates and has some fabulous shops. In the summer during the Umbrian Jazz festival, Perugia takes centre stage with a range of events. Not to be missed is the annual chocolate festival!
Arezzo, has a charming old quarter on the top of the town and has some great antique shops as well as a monthly antique fair which fills the main square.
Montepulciano is a beautiful Tuscan hill-town surrounded by world famous vineyards. You can either taste the wonderful DOCG mark wine in the various cantines in the town or take a visit to the local vineyard.
Where to stay
Cortona is surrounded by excellent Tuscan countryside. The best place for a base in the area is in the countryside below the town or just over the border in neighbouring Umbria, where prices are slightly more reasonable.
For a range of self-catering properties in and around the Cortona area, click here.
For further information on Tuscany, click here.