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“Cortona, Italy” 2024


Cortona sights

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Le Celle

Frances Mayes

Private Tours

Cortona map

Cortona, believe it or not, was a well-known Tuscan hill town before Frances Mayes wrote about renovating her house, “Casa Bramasole”, near here. It is now, more than ever and quite rightly, a not-to-be-missed stop on the Tuscan hill town circuit. Despite Mayes' present continuous, creative writing course style, Cortona is an attractive place to spend a day or two with great art, great atmosphere, stupendous views to Lake Trasimeno and the Val di Chiana. An excellent range of vacation accommodations is available, ranging from rental villas, through agriturismi to fine hotels and Bed & Breakfasts.


Panoramic view of the Tuscan hilltop town of Cortona, Italy

Cortona and Tuscany are the subject of several highly readable books by Frances Mayes wrote about renovating her house, "Casa Bramasole", in the area where she still lives for part of the year. These books give a highly authentic impression of life in this part of Italy. One of her books, Under the Tuscan Sun was made into a popular movie and inspired the name of the Tuscan Sun Festival held in Cortona every year usually during August and featuring classical music concerts, art exhibitions etc.

Cortona vacation rentals

Piazza Signorelli, Cortona

Cortona Antiques Exhibition

Cortonantiquaria Cortona Antiques Exhibition

Last week of August and first week of September 2013

The "Cortonantiquaria" is one of the most important antique furniture fairs in Europe. The exhibition is housed in the 17 C Palazzo Vagnotti, located in the old town centre. More than 40 exhibitors are rigorously selected by a special commission. Furniture, jewellery, carpets and bronzes are some of the objects displayed together in the show.

Cortona Italy Photogallery

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Cortona is a small but fascinating city in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany, central Italy, situated on a commanding hill, and overlooking Lake Trasimeno. Its cyclopean walls reveal its Etruscan origins. It was one of the twelve cities of Etruria and in its vicinity many Etruscan ruins and tombs may be seen. Cortona sided against Rome until 310 B.C. when Fabius Rullianus defeated the Etruscans and took Perugia. Perugia, with other cities, including Cortona, then made peace with Rome. Later Cortona was destroyed by the Lombards but was soon rebuilt. In the 14 C, it was governed by the Casali and afterwards became part of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.

Many famous men were born or lived in Cortona, among them Brother Elias (Elia Coppi), the famous companion of St. Francis of Assisi, and later Vicar-General of the Franciscan Order; Cardinals Egidio Boni and Silvio Passerini; the painter Luca Signorelli; the architect and painter Pietro Berrettini (Pietro da Cortona). St. Margaret of Cortona (1248-97) was born at Laviano (Alviano) in the Diocese of Chiusi, and became the mistress of a nobleman of the vicinity. On discovering his body after he had met a violent death, she repented and, after a public penance, retired to Cortona, where she took the habit of a Tertiary of St. Francis and devoted her life to works of penance and charity. Leo X permitted her veneration at Cortona, and Urban VIII extended the privilege to the Franciscan Order. Benedict XIII canonised her in 1728. Her body rests in a beautiful sarcophagus in the church dedicated to her at Cortona.

It is not known whether Cortona was an episcopal see previous to its destruction by the Lombards. From that time until 1325 it belonged to the Diocese of Arezzo. In that year, at the request of Guglielmo Casali, John XXII raised Cortona to episcopal rank, as a reward for the fidelity of its Guelph populace, Arezzo remaining Ghibelline. The first bishop was Rainerio Ubertini. Other bishops were Luca Grazio, who was a distinguished member of the Council of Florence (1438); Matteo Concini (1560) and Gerolamo Gaddi (1562) were present at the Council of Trent. The cathedral and the other churches of Cortona possess numerous works of art, especially paintings of the school of Luca Signorelli and of Fra Angelico.

Off the beaten track - visit the Farneta Abbey between Cortona and Foiano

Vacation in Tuscany?

Tuscany vacation rentals

Stay in a Chianti farm house apartment for less than the price of a small hotel room. Click here for a large selection of beautiful farm house apartment and room vacation rentals in Chianti, plus all you need to know about Chianti.

Giostra dell'Archidado
(last day of Mediaeval Week - late May early June)

Giostra dell'Archidado

Giostra dell'Archidado, Cortona

This costume festival re-enacts the wedding of Francesco Casali, lord of Cortona, to Antonia Salimbeni from Sienna, in 1397. To commemorate the couple, the crossbowmen of Cortona's five 'quintieri' or districts compete in a crossbow (ballestero) competition, aiming at a target called 'quintiere'. The winner is given the first prize, the Verretta d'Oro (golden crossbow dart). The event includes stalls selling mediaeval food, mediaeval dinners and entertainment typical of the mediaeval times.

For dates, please refer to Festivals of Tuscany.


Borgo di Vagli

Tuscan fractional-ownership apartments available for purchase.

Borgo di Vagli fractional ownership in Tuscany

Borgo di Vagli is a private, member-owned, fractional ownership community composed of attractive one- and two-bedroom residences on the Tuscany-Umbria border. Borgo di Vagli has been beautifully restored to offer a unique and affordable opportunity for fractional ownership of a historical country home in Tuscany, providing worry-free ownership and ensuring totally relaxed vacations.

Click here for more about Borgo di Vagli fractional ownership.


Cortona location map

Click for the Cortona location map

Colours of Cortona

Cortona old town

Cortona gardens

Gardens of Tuscany

In addition to the famous formal gardens of Florence and Rome, many of the villas of the Tuscany countryside have beautiful and in some cases spectacular gardens that are open to the public.

Cortona villas

Bella Toscana - where to stay, what to do in Tuscany, Italy

Tuscany traval guide

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