Do you remember that movie “Under the Tuscan Sun“? She leaves everything behind and starts a new life in this enchanting small village in the Tuscan countryside. Well, that small beautiful village is Cortona, and indeed it is an Italian jewel. Built on the slopes of a hill, the small village is a joy for the eyes. Its narrow streets that go up and down the hill, the blue sky, the stunning view, the atmosphere, the people that you find here, contribute to create the special climate of this little town. It is truly a must day trip if you are in the area.
Start your visit from Piazza della Repubblica, you will certainly say”I know this place!” and you’ll be right. A little difference from the Hollywood version of the square: there is no fountain in the middle of it! On this beautiful spot you can admire the Palazzo Comunale (the town hall), that stunning building with the huge stairs on the front of it and the clock tower. If you turn and go on the left of that building you can find another nice spot seen in the movie: the little Loggia where the main character writes her postcards. Go up there to have a wonderful view of the square from above.
By taking the first street on the left of the town hall you reach another small but beautiful square: Piazza Signorelli, where you can find the Theater Signorelli and Palazzo Casali, now location of the Museum of the City.
I suggest you now to get lost and walk around the town, to admire its peculiar architecture and the little bell towers you find around. Try to catch the one you see often in the movie!
After that have a break, eat some Pici al fumo in one of the typical restaurant you find around the center: a traditional dish of the area that is fresh pasta with a sauce made of rosemary, bacon, cream and tomato… delicious!
As soon as finished feeding your soul with some good Italian food, take the main street that goes through the center. Spend some time admiring the little shops of olive oil, wine, terracotta and other typical handmade souvenirs. At the end of the street you will reach the Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, the fortress built in 1561 and nowadays location of art exhibitions and events. This is one the highest point of the town, from here your eyes can admire all the Chiana Valley and also the Trasimeno Lake.
Keep on walking up the path that will lead you to the Cathedral of Santa Margherita, a stunning example of Italian architecture. Can you guess that the first church here has been built in the XI century? It has been damaged and rebuilt several times and now its appearance is more modern that the original one, but it is still a little jewel of Italian art and architecture.
Climbing back down towards the town center, take a small deviation and follow the street that leads you to the town gardens. Walk across them, pass over the tennis court and the swimming pools and keep on walking. After 2 or 3 km you will see it. The home of the writer Frances Mayes. It is indeed a beautiful villa and the view from there is stunning. If you loved the movie and her book, it will be an emotion to be there, so enjoy it!
Cortona and its surroundings offer a lot to the visitor, if you have the possibility to stay more than a day, visit also the archaeological sites around the town. Besides that, during summer Cortona hosts a beautiful International Travel Photography Festival named Cortona on the Move that displays some of the best travel photographer, both professional and amateur, and several events and photography workshops. The photos exhibitions are placed around town in a lot of historical buildings, so that is also the right opportunity to visit the town itself and some buildings otherwise closed to the public while following the Festival paths.
Have you ever visited Cortona? Any suggestion to add? Please share them with us!