cortona-4Piazza Della Republica

Returning to paradise… I’m sorry, Tuscany!

Those who know this Blog are aware of our love for Italy, more precisely for Tuscany, and by the time of our 2013 trip to this region somethings were left unseen, namely this town, eternalized by Frances Mayes, in “Under the Tuscan Sun”. It’s true this american movie put Cortona and Tuscany in the spotlight of the Americans and nowadays English is all you hear there, but the region was able to keep tradition and identity like very few other touristic destinations

Cortona is one of the most characteristic, located in the Arezzo region, with Etruscan origins, we were able to identify details from several periods of history, from Roman, Medieval, from the Renaissance and obviously, Etruscan.

cortona-2Located on top of a hill, its origin dates back to the IV century BC, and the entire visit is a true throwback in time.

Once we were staying in Cortona, at Il Falconiere, the trip to town was quick, around 5min by car. If you’re travelling around Tuscany, probably you’ll be travelling by car, it’s the easiest way to visit several regions, and you can opt to sleep at the wonderful Il Falconiere (see) or stay in a nearby town and take a day to visit Cortona.

The city is surrounded by a very ancient wall with six different entrances, some from the Etruscan period, the doors of Santa Maria, Sant´Agostino, Bifora, ColoniaBerarda and Montanina. These are the six main entrances, although there are several more, these are well preserved, older and have more history.

cortona-3We left the car parked before entering the city, because we intended to just walk around, wandering, so we parked at Viale Cesare Battisti in a free parking lot (there are several around the city).

We entered by the Piazza Garibaldi (where there’s also a parking lot, but it’s not free), and walked by the Via Nazionale full of stores, cafés, local commerce and from where radiate beautiful steep alleys, and arrived to Piazza Della Republica.

cortona-5Here was once the Roman Forum, it’s the most important square in town, where you can still find the former residence of the Cardinal in the XVI century, the Pallazzo del Capitano del Popolo, nowadays the Post Office; and also the Pallazo Comune, with its beautiful staircase, used in the XII century for council meetings relative to political, religious and cultural matters.

cortona-6From here we went to Piazza Signorelli and we found the distinct neo classic facade of the Signorelli Theater in the middle of this typically medieval square. The theater is still working and organizes several types of events, so if you have time, take a look at the monthly program.

At the left of the theater there’s the Palazzo Casali from the XVI century, holding the Museo dell´Accademia Etrusca e della Città de Cortona (MAEC), besides the library.

cortona-7On saturdays there’s a market in this square, so if you’re visiting Cortona on a saturday, don’t miss it!

Close from here there’s the Piazza do Duomo and the Duomo, constructed in the ruins of a pagan building, dating from the year 1000, although it’s current structure being a Renaissance reconstruction. The interior is inspired in the Brunelleschi architecture.

cortona-11 Church di San Francesco

In front of the Duomo is possible to find the Museo Diocesano placed in the former Chiesa del Gesù. Inside there are art works from several churches of the diocese.
500 meters ahead is the Church of San Francesco, constructed by Frei Elias in 1247 over the ruins of the roman springs, in homage to San Francisco.


cortona-10Inside there are some relics, like his cassock, a pillow and his book of the gospel. The marble monumetal altar is the haven for the remains of the Holy Cross. Here are buried Luca Signorelli, painter, and Frei Elias.

Leaving the church, to the left (backwards to the altar) you find a space, a room with open doors and inside you can see a series of exposed paintings and a man involved in his drawings. Come in please! I can’t assure he’s always there, but from what I learned he’s a local artist and exposes his work there. I was completely astonished. You can even buy his art, If you like it.

Back to our walk. with a bit more effort, climb till you get to the Santa Margherita Basilica. Do it by the via Santa Croce, which awards you with a path full of cypresses on both sides, making you really feel in Tuscany.

At the end of it, there’s the Piazzale Santa Marguerita and the basilica (those who don’t want the adventure of climbing all that way up, this square has free parking).

cortona-15Basilica of Santa Margherita

This church is dedicated to the patron saint of the city, Santa Margherita, and was built in 1297, after her death, in the place she chose as her place of worship.

Inside there’s her tomb, in carved out in marble, but her remains are kept in a shrine above the altar.

cortona-16From here we headed to one of the places I wanted to visit the most, Fortezza di Girifalco.

Constructed in 1556, by request of the famous Cosimo I de Medici, idealized with defensive intentions, although not ever facing any battle! It was built over the ruins of Estruscan, Roman and medieval fortifications.

At the fortress we desire to touch history and even feel part of it. The building itself has nothing on the inside, but the views you get from the top are astonishing, with a 360º view over Cortona, the Chiana valley and a glimpse of the Trasimeno lake. The entrance is paid, but accessible, 5€.

cortona-19The amazing view from the fortress over the Cortona Valley 

When you finish this visit, go down by the Via Santa Margherita and you will observe the work of Gino Severini, an important painter from the XIX century, originary from Cortona, co-founder of the Manifesto of Futurism in Paris. Here, his work dates back from 1947 and along the via you can observe the 14 beautiful tiles representing the Via Sacra, going down the via, you’ll see from XIV to I.

cortona-20Via Santa Margherita

We were already hungry, and decided to return to Piazza Della Republica and grab a bite to eat. We ended up buying pizza and gelato (obvious choice, right?) and seating at the Palazzo Comune staircase, calmly tasting, while observing the serene life of Cortona’s inhabitants.


cortona-21The great gelatos of Gelato ti amo

Cortona can be visited in a day, but if you want to calmly enjoy it I advise you to stay at Il Falconiere, which as I said is nearby and wonderful!

Please don’t get lost just visiting the mandatory places, get lost in the real life of Cortona. Observe people, their way of living, breathe the city and feel part of it.


Where to eat
Il Falconiere (*Michelin – see)
Bottega Baracchi (from the same owners of the Il falconiere)
Osteria del Teatro
Gelateria – Gelato ti Amo

Versão Portuguesa

 Text: Cíntia Oliveira | Photos: Flavors & Senses 

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