Download GPX file for this article
43.266711.9833Full screen dynamic map

Europe > Italy > Central Italy > Tuscany > Arezzo (province) > Val di Chiana > Cortona

Cortona

From Wikivoyage
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Town Hall, Piazza della Repubblica

Cortona is a town in the Province of Arezzo, Tuscany. It was one of the twelve cities of the Etruscan League. At 600 metres elevation, it has magnificent panoramas to every point of the compass. It is not far from Arezzo.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Cortona can be reached by flying to Italian major international airports in Rome and Milan, or to the two airports in Tuscany:

By train[edit]

The closest train station is "Camucia-Cortona", with direct trains from Florence and Rome or "Terontola-Cortona" with direct trains from Florence and Venice. You can also take a train to Arezzo and then another train to "Camucia-Cortona".

Buses leave every 30 min from the Camucia station bound for Piazza Garibaldi in Cortona. You may have to buy your bus ticket direct from the driver, in which case you should be prepared to pay the exact cash fare of €2. The driver is not obliged to provide change. Before your trip back to the station, buy a ticket from a tobacco shop (tabbachi) for €1.10. Not all buses from Cortona to Camucia stop at the railway station but there is another stop in town (at Viale Regina Elena & Strada Regionale 71) very close to the station.

Taxis are available in front of the Camucia station and Terontola train station; however, apparently there are only few taxis serving this "route". If you want to be sure that there is a taxi for you, ask your hotel to book one for you. The other option could be rent a car and you can do it right outside of Terontola-Cortona train station and use your car to reach your destinations.

There is no staffed ticket office (biglietteria) at the Camucia station. However, there are 2 ticket vending machines at the station that are designed to accept credit cards such as Visa.

By car[edit]

Take the Autostrada del Sole highway (A1), exit at the Valdichiana toll-gate and get on the Siena-Perugia speedway, direction Perugia. Get off the speedway at the Cortona-San Lorenzo exit. Keep driving direction Cortona, drive past Camucia and follow signs for Cortona. Climbing up the hill, you will find the Cortona town-limit sign.

Distances to Cortona: Florence 102 km, Arezzo 29 km, Siena 80 km, Montepulciano 28 km, Chianciano 38 km, Chiusi 30 km, Perugia 54 km, Assisi 76 km.

By bus[edit]

There are public busses from nearby cities such as Arezzo or Terontola. The ticket costs €1 per journey, sold at tobacco shops (Tabacchi) and should be validated on the machine inside the bus. The bus stop for Cortona is Piazza Garibaldi.

Get around[edit]

The best way to explore Cortona is on foot as the town is very small. Driving in Cortona is very difficult as the streets are steep and narrow. Parking inside town is almost impossible. However, parking areas are available outside the town walls; some are free.

See[edit]

The Cortona Triptych by Fra Angelico, which is in the Diocesan Museum
  • Fortezza del Girofalko was erected on order of Grand Duke Cosimo I de Medici above the city (651 m above sea level) in the 16th century. It offers a splendid view over the city walls.
  • Etruscan tombs

Palaces[edit]

  • Palazzo Ferretti, Rugapiana. Built in 1730 by the German architect Marco Tsucher; today the court of law.
  • Palazzo Comunale (Town Hall), Piazza della Repubblica. Built at the beginning of the 13th century and reconstructed around 1275 by Master Tuto. The balcony on the facade was added in the 16th century. The councilors' hall dated from the original building. It has a roof with painted beams and a 16th-century chimney piece.
  • Palazzo Passerini (Passerini Palace), Via Maffei. Originally the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo was built in the 13th century. Its tower was destroyed later. The interior of the palace was renovated by Cardinal Silvio Passerini, who owned the palace from 1514 onwards. It appears to be as a vacation rental location.
  • Palazzo Mancini Sernini, Via Guelfa 5. The palace is the work of Giovanni Battista di Cristofano Infregliati, called Cirstofanello. It was begun in 1533. Today it is the seat of the Banca Populare of Cortona.
  • Palazzo Casali, Piazza Signorelli. The original palace was built in the 14th century. It was the seat of the Casali family, lords of Cortona until 1409. only a few walls of the original building remained. The Renaissance front from the beginning of the 17th century is the work of Filippi Berretini. Today the palace is the seat of the city library, the historical archive, the Etruscan Museum and the Etruscan Academy. The courtyard of the Casali Palace is the best photo stop in Cortona.
  • Palazzone (Passerini Palace) (in the Eastern part of the city). The Renaissance building was erected on order of Cardinal Silvio Passerini (1469-1529), who was commissioner of the Pope for Umbria and envoy to Perugia. It was designed by Giovan Battista from Perugia. It is reported that the painter Luca Signorelli fell from the scaffolding while painting the frescoes for the cardinal's chapel and died here. Today the Palazzone is part of the Scuola Normale di Pisa.

Squares[edit]

  • Piazza della Repubblica: the most famous piazza in Cortona. The fountain in the center of the square was destroyed around 1550. It is presumed that it looked similar to the Fontana Maggiore in Perugia.
  • Piazza Signorelli: next to the Piazza della Repubblica and less crowded. On Sundays it has a flea market where they sell antiques. The Teatro dell Signorelli and the Casali Palace are here.
  • Piazza Garibaldi Built by the French during the Napoleonic Wars
  • PIazza Pescheria (Fish market) with the Passerini Palace.

Streets[edit]

  • Rugapiana is the main street of Cortona with houses dating from the 16th to 18th centuries and the Ferretti Palace.
  • Vicolo della Scala and Vicolo Vagnucci
  • Via Roma with the Porta del Morto (Door of the Death) from 1247 and the Palazo Cinaglia

Churches[edit]

  • The Cathedral (Il Duomo) Summer daily 7:30AM-1PM and 3:30-6:30PM; winter daily 8AM-12:30PM and 3-5:30PM. Free admission. The cathedral was built above the old church of Santa Maria, erected in the 10 and 11th centuries, the front of which was altered ny Nicolo Pisano around 1260. Traces of the first building can still be found on the front of the cathedral. The new building dates from the 15th cent. Although the cathedral has been rebuilt many times it has not lost the harmony of the original building.
  • Santa Maria Nuova. The church was built in the 2nd half of the 16th cent on plans of Cristofanello in Late Renaissance style. It was finished in the 17th cent and is located in a splendid position at the base of S.Egidio Mount. It has a painting of the Nativity of Mary by Allori.
  • Eremo Le Celle (3.5 km N of Cortona, go left along the city walls). A Fransiscan monastery on the slopes of Mount S.Egidio. The cell which was inhabited ba Saint Francis has been preserved. free entrance.
chapel in Le Celle
  • Farneta Abbey, old abbey, erected in the 9th and 10th century AD by the "Black" Benedictine monks from Monte Cassino on the foundations of a Roman temple.One of the columns of pink granite originates from Aswan in Egypt and has a Roman capital with a human figure with horns on the head. In the center of the crypt is a splendid monument similar to a small temple. There is also a Roman stela with the inscription "fourth daughter of Erennius Pompeius libertus" (liberti beeing freed slaves).
  • San Benedetto, built in the 18th century on an oval plan with an outside staircase.
  • San Domenico, built in the 12th century in Gothic style, The altar-piece has a painting of the Coronation of Mary by Lorenzo di Niccolò Gerini (16th cent) with six angels practising music and ten figures of saints, in the center, above it the Trinity, the annunciation, the adoration of the magi and four events from the life of St.Benedict. The altar on the right hand side in the apsis has a painting of Holy Virgin with angels and sainmts by Luca Signorelli (1455-1523). On the left wall is a wall painting by Beato Angelico (15th century).
  • San Francesco, Via Santucci, Gothic building erected after 1425 by the Franciscan monk Elia who is also buried in the church. Traces of the original building can be seen at the main entrance, at the side windows and the frescoes which are attributed to the painting school of Buffalmacco (15th century). The side altars were added in BAroque times. The marble tabernaclen on the high altar is a work of Bernardino Ricci (17th century) and is believed to contain a reliquiary of the Holy Cross that was brought from Constantinople by the monk Elia. The inner part of the tabernacle is a Byzantine piece of art dating from the 10th century. The third altar on the left hand side has a painting of the Annunciation, the last and unfinished work of Pietro Berretini (also called Il Cortona).
  • Santa Margherita,completely restored in the 19th century. The silver shriene containg the body of the saint was executed after drawings by Pietro Berretini. In the church there is also a wooden crucifix dating to the 13th cent.
  • Santa Maria delle Grazie (Church of Calcinaio), supposed to be the most beautiful Renaissance monument in Cortona. It is named after the old limestone quarry (calcinaio) which was owned by the shoemakers guild. The church is considered as the masterpiece of Francesco di Giorgio Martini. It was built between 1485 and 1513 on the plan of a Latin cross with a eight-sided dome above it. The stained windows are the work of William of Marcillat, the main portal and high altar were designed by Bernardino Covatti of Cortona.
  • San Niccolò, a small Romanic church from the 15th century
  • San Filippo, near Palazzo Chinaglia, Baroque building of 1720,
  • San Agostino, erected in the 13th century in Gothic style, altered in the 17th cent in Baroque style. It contains the painting Our Lady with Saints by Berrettini (1596-1669). The cloisters were added in the 17th cent,
  • San Cristoforo, dating back to the 12th century, but frequently re-built. Frescoes of the Umbrian school from the 13th century.
  • La Contessa, a building from the 13th century founded by a countess ("Contessa") as a monastery, today a school for hotel and tourism management.
  • San Michele Arcangelo, 5 km from Cortona, a Romanic-Byzantine church which was already in existence in 1000, presumably the work of Meginardo by order of bishop Teobaldo of Arezzo.

Museums[edit]

Etruscan tombs
  • MAEC - Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona (Museum of the Etruscan Academy and the City of Cortona), Palazzo Casali, piazza Signorelli, 9, +39 0575 637235, . Apr to Oct: Tu-Sa 10:00-19:00; Nov to Mar: Tu-Sa 10:00-17:00, closed Dec 25. Among the exhibits are a slate slab of Polymnia, an Etruscan lamp of the 5th cent BC, a Bronze votive hand, a statue of the two-headed god Janus, a tryptich of Our Lady and Saints by ‘’Bicci di Lorenzo’’ (16th century), an Egyptian wooden boat of the dead from the 12th dynasty (2000 to 1788 BC). You can download a plan of the museum here [1] €10, combined with Museo Diocesano €13.
  • Museo Diocesano (Diocesan Museum), Piazza del Duomo, +39 575 62830. Apr to Oct: daily 10:00-19:00; Nov to Mar: Tu-Su 10:00-17:00, closed Dec 25. The Diocesan Museum is in the original Church and Oratory of Gesù. The Church was built by the Lay Company of Buon Gesù between 1498 and 1505 and was made up of an oratory on the lower floor and a church on the upper floor. The church had a single nave with three altars with three masterpieces by Luca Signorelli. Among the most important exhibits are: an Annunciation by Fra Angelico, Lamentation over the dead Christ by Luca Signorelli, a Shaped Cross by Pietro Lorenzetti and the Passerini Tapestry, vestments made between the beginning of the 16th century and 1515, commissioned by Cardinal Silvio Passerini to be worn by Pope Leo X de’ Medici during his visit in Cortona. admission €5, children €3.

Archaeological sites[edit]

  • The cistern of the Bagni di Bacco
  • Etruscan wall-remains within P.zzo Cerulli-Diligenti
  • Etruscan wall-remains within Palazzo Casali
  • Etruscan walls
  • Porta Bifora
  • Barrel vault in the Via Guelfa.

You will find details here [2]

Special events[edit]

  • Tuscan Sun Festival. An annual event in summer. Festival with concerts performed by the world’s most acclaimed musical artists, exhibitions with leading visual artists, discussions with top literary figures and culinary delights with the finest chefs and winemakers.

Do[edit]

  • Cooking Class, offered by several hotels in Cortona:
  • "Hotel Restaurant Corys" (see contact details in Sleep section).
  • "Relais il Falconiere", Localitá San Martino, 370. One day cooking class in one Michelin star Restaurant. Classes begin at 16:30 (last approx. 3 hr). Available every week on request, all year round except for July and August. Prices: up to 2 person €180/person, 3 or more €160.
  • 3D3 World Maya Training, Castello Neve (Poggioni), +39 0575 690 060. 5-, 10- and 20-day one teacher to one student intensive Maya 3D animation courses at 3D3 World at the Castello Neve. Training is by industry professionals and all meals and accommodation are included.
  • 1 Agriturismo Il Frantoio (Horseback Riding) (http://www.ilfrantoiocortona.com), Loc. San Martino a Bocena (5 minutes from Cortona), +39 335 7771771. Hours are flexible. Traditional riding ground with wooden stables accommodating over thirty horses. Horseback riding lessons, activities and trekking in the nearby woods are arranged daily. Rides are planned according to riding ability and your personal preference. You will also be able to assist in the daily tasks of the manège and in the training of horses. Outdoor dinners are arranged. Prices on request.

Buy[edit]

View of Cortona

Wine & Olive Oil[edit]

  • Cantine Faralli, Loc. Fasciano 4.
  • Wine Bar La Casa Gialla, . Via Gramsci, 113 (S.S.71 Umbro Casentinese)
  • Molesini Market Enoteca Prodotti Tipici, Piazza Repubblica, Tel. 62544.

Patisserie[edit]

  • Pasticceria Banchelli, Via Matteotti, 119. Offers a fine selection of pastries, chocolates, cakes, espresso and cappuccino.

Eat[edit]

Cortona is small and loaded with tourists during the holiday season so that reservation is highly recommended, especially for dinner. Lunch and dinner are normally served at specific time so you might be sent away if you come outside this time. For less fancy eating possibilities, there are take-away pizza shops around Piazza della Repubblica.

  • Trattoria Dardano, Via Dardano, 24, . Closed W.
  • Trattoria La Grotta, P.Baldelli 3. With outdoor tables in a secluded courtyard. Closed on Tuesday.
  • Osteria del Teatro, Via Maffei, 2, .
  • Hosteria La Bucaccia, Via Ghibellina 17, .
  • Bar 500, 44/46 Via Nazionale, +39 3479172118. 12:00-23:00, closed Tu. Open Mar-Nov. Wine bar/restaurant in the historical centre of Cortona.

Ice cream[edit]

  • Gelateria Snoopy, Piazza Signorelli, 24.

Drink[edit]

The red wine Sangiovese is the pride of Tuscany and famous worldwide with the popular name "Chianti". The Syrah has also received high recognition.

Wine[edit]

  • Caffè Degli Artisti, Via Nazionale, 18. Owned by Italian-Finnish couple.

Pubs[edit]

  • The Lion's Well, Piazza Signorelli 28.

Nightlife[edit]

  • Route 66 Cafè, Via Nazionale, 71, Angolo Piazza Garibaldi.

Sleep[edit]

View from Cortona

Budget[edit]

  • Agriturismo Casamontana (Portole), . Casamontana is composed of two houses, Il Fungo and La Castagna. They are both in a panoramic position in the hills 800 m above sea level, but close to Cortona. The houses are surrounded by woods overlooking the Valdichiana with views of Lake Trasimeno. The houses are built of stone with terracotta floors. The two houses have central heating, air conditioning, satellite TV, a laundry, barbecue, garden, and ample parking space. Small and medium sized dogs are permitted in the properties.
  • Agriturismo Il Frantoio (San Martino a Bocena), +39 335 7771771, . The accommodations were converted from the old mill that dates from the 15th century. It consists of four separate holiday apartments, each totally independent, yet sharing a common entrance with an old stone staircase. All apartments are equipped with satellite TV, a refrigerator, independent heating, and Wi-Fi. Horseback riding activities and hiking in the nearby woods are arranged daily. Guests, including children, will be able to take horseback riding lessons with professional BHS instructors. You will also be able to assist in the daily tasks of the stables and in the training of horses. Cortona is a 5-minute drive away and may also be reached on foot walking ancient paths.
  • Agriturismo Pratovalle, Creti 41, +39 0575610088, fax: +39 0575610088, . Pratovalle country house is an old barn restored to four comfortable apartments with air conditioning, dishwasher, oven, and satellite TV. Around the house there is a park with olive trees, cypresses and other long-stemmed plants where it is possible to relax and eat. Big swimming pool.
  • Agriturismo La Vecchia Fornace (San Lorenzo 52042), . Ancient stone farmhouse, restored in keeping with its original character is in the countryside at 350 m above sea level and is just 8 km from Cortona. It is in the middle of lovely lawns, sunflower, corn, wheat fields, and woods.
  • Agriturismo Rocca di Pierle (Pierle 52040), . The completely restored farm house overlooks a beautiful valley.
  • Agriturismo Villa Cuiano (http://www.pierle.com) (Pierle- Voc. Cuiano 52040), . Check-in: 16:00, check-out: 10:00.
  • Albergo Ristorante Portole, Via Umbro Cortonese 39, .
  • Hotel Italia, Via Ghibellina, . An elegant and aristocratic house of the 1600s, it has been recently restored. The hotel is quite peaceful.
  • Ostello San Marco, Via Maffei 57, . B&B €12.50, Family €16.50/2-4 person, Meal €9. Beds: 80 (in room for 2-4-6 or 8). Opens March 15-Oct 15 except with group reservation.

Mid-range[edit]

  • Bed & Breakfast Le Gelosie, Via Dardano, 6, . €95-120.
  • B&B Poggio Sant'Angelo (C.s. Farneta n. 42), +39 0575 610365, . Poggio Sant’Angelo, near the Abbey of Farneta, one of Tuscany’s most charming abbeys. The building is laid out over two floors: the ground floor housing the reception area and the restaurant and the first floor featuring six bedrooms, one suites, two double bedrooms and a large reading room with open fireplace and comfortable sofas. An annex just outside the villa houses a wine-bar; a large pool enjoying a wonderfully sunny position, is in the adjoining park surrounded by century-old trees. €90-159. Suite €210.
  • Residence Il Cassero. €70+.
  • Hotel il Melone, Il Sodo Case Sparse, . When you arrive at Borgo Il Melone, you will behold a vast stretch of bright green fields, with an area of almost 9 acres. €120-160.
  • Hotel Restaurant Corys, Loc. Torreone, 6. €62 bed and breakfast, €83 half-board, €104 full-board.
  • Hotel San Luca, Piazza Garibaldi, 1, . In the Piazza Garibaldi in the centre of Cortona overlooking the Val di Chiana and the Lake Trasimeno.
  • Hotel Villa Marsili, Viale C.Battisti, 13, +39 0575 605252, fax: +39 0575 605618, . With its refined lounges, and finely furnished, frescoed bedrooms, welcome to the cosy atmosphere of one of the town's most elegant residences. Besides the charm of its history, the building enjoys a scenic position. Villa Marsili is inside Cortona's ancient walls. 27 rooms, all equipped with modern comforts. Rooms €135-230, Suites €270+.
  • Hotel Villa di Piazzano (Cortona-Località Piazzano), . €104-264.
  • Locanda Petrella 26, Vicolo Petrella, 26, . €70/single, €80/double.
  • La Mucchia Vacation Farmhouse, . The farmhouse suites hotel is divided into eight suites, Tuscan style, surrounded by 7,000 m² of land used for lawn, gardens, olive trees. Parking, a children's play area, a swimming pool surrounded by nature and history, and sun terraces with views of Cortona. €500/double low season, €850/double high season.
  • Relais Villa Baldelli, San Pietro a Cegliolo, 420, . €176-220.
  • Residence Il Casale, San Pietro a Cegliolo, 434, .
  • Rugapiana Vacanze, Via Nazionale 63, +39 0575 630712, . Rugapiana is surrounded by Etruscan walls, overlooking the valley and the lake Trasimeno. €76-117.
  • Villa Aurea, N.A. Campaccio 5/8, . Inside the 30,000-m² park there is a 100-year-old redwood (sequoia) tree that dominates the Italian gardens that are lined with spaces and relaxing paths. The hotel consists of three independent residential units: the central villa dating back to 1700 with the attached private chapel, and the two side annexes, Il Villino and La Limonaia. €120-250.

Splurge[edit]

  • Belvedere Apartments, Via San Sebastiano 31. Elegantly furnished and carefully restored ground floor apartments in an ancient building in the historical centre of Cortona. Each apartment has a wonderful view over the Chiana Valley and Trasimeno Lake, and is in a quiet area with public parking 50 m away.
  • Casa Bellavista. Three double bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. Guests have full use of the indoor common rooms such as the library, the sitting rooms and the dining room. There are also the outside spaces; the park, the orchard with its views of Cortona, the garden with its 180° views toward Montepulciano, Mount Amiata, Sinalunga and Monte San Savino, the swimming pool.
  • Casa Portagioia (10 km from Cortona). A small boutique hotel/B&B. 5 guest bedrooms, all with luxury bathrooms and 2 suite apartments for 2–4 guests. Heated swimming pool. High Season: €170.
  • Le Gelosie, Via Dardano, 6, . Weekend €350-700/3 nights, weekly €700-1,200/7 nights.

Cope[edit]

Tourist Information Agency (A.P.T.), Via Nazionale, 42.

Stay safe[edit]

Beware of your belongings as even when the town feels safe, it is still crowded by tourists which are good targets to pickpockets.

The town is hilly and some attractions (church or castle) are located on the hills so that it might be difficult to reach for some people. Consider renting a car if travelling with children or older people.

Go next[edit]

  • The Archaeological Park - Extra-urban route [3] covering:
    • The Tomb of Mezzavia
    • The Melone II of Sodo, Etruscan tomb of the 5th or 4th century BC, near SS 71
    • The Melone I of Sodo, Etruscan tomb of the 5th or 4th century BC, near SS 71
    • The Tanella Angori
    • The Tanella di Pitagora (Tomb od Pythagoras). The name is due to a misunderstanding: Crotone was mixed up with the ancient Greek city of Kroton where Pythagoras died. The tomb is said to date from the 4th century BC.
    • The Tumulus of Camucia, a tumulus with a diameter of 200 meters and 11 meters high.
    • The Roman Villa of Ossaia
    • The Roman road of Torreone: You may walk along this paved track in both ways alternatively starting from Torreone and hiking your way up to the Guglielmesca or driving up to the latter location and walking all the way down to Torreone. This trail running in the woods of the Cortona hills, also indicated as CAI trail nr. 561, offers, halfway, a stunning view over Cortona and the Valdichiana. You may also take a detour and hike down to the convent of the Cappuccini walking by the Maestà del Pianello a place where it is said to have been located the so-called “Tomb of the King”. The trail is equipped with basic road signs.
    • The Roman road of Teverina Bassa
    • The Roman road of Monte Maestrino
  • Rocca di Pierle (Pierle fortress), 16 km from Cortona. The fortress was bilt by order of Francesco Casali in the Middle Ages on the ruins of an older castle. In 1387 more than 60 conspirators were confined and finally killed here by Uguccio Casali. In 1411 the fortress was sold by Ladislaus King of Naples to the Florentine Republic for 1200 florins, In the 16th century Grand Duke Francesco de Medici order the inner part of the fortress to be demolished in order to prevent 'evil-doers from Tuscany or the Papal State' to find refuge in the fortress.
  • Arezzo, 33 km (21 miles)
  • Florence, 116 km
  • Siena, 73.4 km


This city travel guide to Cortona is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.