Cortona is a delightful Medieval walled town in Tuscany, Italy, with stunning views over the Val di Chiana, and some worthwhile museums. It has preserved its authenticity, even after the book “Under the Tuscan Sun” put it on the tourist map.
Cortona is one of the most scenic towns in Tuscany. It is perches on the side of a hill, with the Basilica of Santa Margherita peering down on it from outside the city’s Etruscan walls. It’s a town full of narrow shop-laden streets and hidden stone staircases that feels far removed from the life on the Val di Chiana plain below. Arezzo is 30 km. away, and you can easily reach Florence in 1 hour and 30 minutes by car.
What to see in Cortona Tuscany, Italy
The main square is Piazza della Repubblica, a handsome space dominated by the Palazzo Comunale and its staircase. It’s the liveliest spot in town, with tourists and locals enjoying the outdoor cafés.
Behind it Piazza Signorelli shows off the coats of arms on the Palazzo Pretorio. They recall a time where the Casali family ruled the city before it was bought by Florence in 1411. In this palace the artist Luca Signorelli used to have his workshop, and later it became the home of the renowned Accademia Etrusca which counted Voltaire amongst its members. Today it hosts the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca (Etruscan Academy Museum), dedicated to Roman and Etruscan finds and other interesting artefacts from different periods, including some Renaissance paintings.
The Museum for fans of 15th century art is the Museo Diocesano containing important work by Luca Signorelli and Fra’ Angelico. The museum is located near the Cathedral looking out over the valley.
But it’s wandering Cortona’s streets and discovering the town’s secret little corners that is the most rewarding part of a visit here, as is the gorgeous view on the valley below and Lake Trasimeno.
Just down from the city, is the grand Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio, built in the 16th century. An elegant and spiritual place immersed in the tranquil green setting.
Medieval houses in Cortona Tuscany
Look out for the Medieval houses of Via Jannelli, a unique sight in Tuscany. Via San Benedetto and via Dardano are worth a look too. A very steep walk to Santa Margherita Church will reward you with plenty of tiny, picturesque lanes and a spectacular view.
Don’t miss: Le Celle Hermitage
5 kilometers from Cortona, the Eremo Le Celle is a working Franciscan monastery near a picturesque waterfall, with a hive-like appearance and a uniquely spiritual feeling.