What to do in Cortona
Our visit to Cortona starts from Piazzale del Mercato, southern area of the town, one of the largest parking that you’ll find outside the city walls. Passing through Porta Sant’Agostino, you access via Guelfa. This road leads us to one of the main squares of Cortona: Piazza della Repubblica.
Piazza della Repubblica
In this beautiful square, the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo and the Palazzo Comunale are facing each other. The second one, rebuilt several times between the thirteenth and nineteenth century, stands atop a staircase and is characterized by a sixteenth-century tower present on the facade.
Now, proceed on the right of Palazzo Comunale to reach Piazza Signorelli.
Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della città di Cortona
The square, named after Luca Signorelli renaissance painter born in Cortona, is dominated by the magnificent Palazzo Casali. Palazzo Casali was built in 13th century and it’s the house of the Municipal library, the historical archives and especially of the Accademia Etrusca.
The Museum of the Accademia Etrusca was founded in 1727 starting from the abbot Onofrio Baldelli’s collection. Since then the Academy has been enriched thanks to numerous donations and legacies. The museum displays many archaeological and art work dated between the 13th and the 19th century.
Among the most important archaeological findings of the museum there are two etruscan artifacts, a chandelier and an inscription. The chandelier (fourth or fifth century B.C.) is a big bronze artifact with a complex decoration inspired by mythical subjects as the mermaids. The inscription we were talking about is the famous Tabula Cortonensis. It is a bronze table (7 fragments) representing the third longest Etruscan language inscription ever found. Needless to emphasize the importance of a find like this from an archaeological point of view!
Among the other works, we mention the Madonna col Bambino e i santi Protettori di Cortona (beginning 16th century) attributed to Luca Signorelli and the Maternità (1916) by Gino Severini.
November-March: tuesday-sunday 10.00-17.00 (closed on monday)
April-October: every day 10.00-19.00
Tickets: regular 10 euro; reduced 7 euro; schools 3 euro
Piazza del Duomo
Get back to our walk in the city centre of Cortona continuing on the right of the Museum until you reach piazza del Duomo. On the square there are, facing each other, the Concattedrale di Santa Maria Assunta and the Museo Diocesano. The background of the square is not occupied by other buildings but by a spectacular view over the valley.
The cathedral is a Renaissance building constructed just before the city walls in the late 15th century. In front, on the right side of the portal, there are some traces of a previous parish church dedicated to Santa Maria.
Inside the oratory of the former church of Jesus, the Museo Diocesano hosts many masterpieces made by masters like Pietro Lorenzetti, Beato Angelico, Sassetta and Luca Signorelli.
Chiesa di San Francesco
After visiting the Cathedral, we return to piazza della Repubblica and we walk along via Santucci until we reach the Chiesa di San Francesco. The church, on the top of a staircase, was built during the thirteenth century but then it was largely modified between the 16th and the 17th century. From the original building there are only few elements such as the portal and the rose window.
Basilica di Santa Margherita
Frome the Chiesa di San Francesco take via Berrettini and, after Piazza della Pescaia, take via Santa Margherita. The road leads off from the core of the village snaking through the trees until we reach a beautiful panoramic position where is located the Basilica di Santa Margherita.
Fortezza del Girifalco
Enjoys an even better overview the Fortezza Medicea also known as the Fortezza del Girifalco that from the top of the hill (651 meters above the sea level) dominates the entire city. The fortress was built in 1556 by Cosimo I in place of a previous medieval fort which in turn had replaced an ancient etruscan structure.
25 March-9 April: 10.00-18.00
14 April-15 June: 10.00-19.00
16 June-3 September: 10.00-20.00
Tickets: regular 5 euro, reduced 3 euro
For more informations, especially on the events organized inside the fortress, please consult the official website.
The walls and the city gates of Cortona
The walls of Cortona have an ancient origin. The first wall were built by the Etruscans in the late 5th century B.C. Then the wall were rebuilt on serveral occasions during the Roman era before, during the middle age and also during the Granducato di Toscana. Each of these phases has left visible traces in the masonry.
Today the walls measure just less than three kilometres and are opened by some city gates, related to the various construction phases, as the estruscan Porta Bifora, those created by Romans (Porta Santa Maria, Porta San Domenico, Porta Sant’Agostino and Porta Colonia), the medieval Porta Montanina, Porta Berarda and Porta San Giorgio and, in the end, the nineteenth-century Porta Santa Margherita.
How to get to Cortona
Cortona is about 30 Km south from Arezzo.
From Arezzo (40 minutes): strada regionale 71 then strada provinciale 34
From Florence (120Km, 1H30′): hughway A1 until the exit Valdichiana, then continue on the raccordo autostradale Bettolle-Perugia until the exit for Cortona, finally strada provinciale 10 (SP10/B).
By train: The closest train station is that one of Camucia (only 2Km)
By bus: from Arezzo Line L6S Tiemme