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.
Sights & Attractions
: Little is left of the original Romanesque character of Cortona's duomo , which is situated northwest of Piazza Signorelli and has been rebuilt several times in a less-than-felicitous fashion. Fortunately, its wonderful artworks have been saved and are on display in this museum, which occupies the former church of the Gesù on the opposite side of the piazza.
Room 1 features a remarkable Roman sarcophagus decorated with a frenzied battle scene between Dionysus and the Amazons
, but the real treasures are in Room 3. These include a moving Crucifixion
(1320) by Pietro Lorenzetti
and two beautiful works by Fra' Angelico: Annunciation
(1436) and Madonna with Child and Saints
Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca
: The rather plain facade of the 13th-century Palazzo Casali was added to the original building in the 17th century. Inside, this fascinating museum displays substantial local Etruscan and Roman finds, Renaissance globes, 18th-century decorative arts and contemporary paintings. The Etruscan collection is the highlight, particularly those objects excavated from the tombs at Sodo, just outside town.
Eremo Le Celle
: This Franciscan hermitage is set amid dense woodland 3km north of Cortona. Its buildings sit next to a picturesque stream with an 18th-century stone bridge, and the only sounds to disturb the tranquil atmosphere are the bells that call the resident friars to vespers and mass in the cave-like Chiesa Cella di San Francesco.
Festivals & Events of Cortona, Italy
(June) A crossbow competition held in late May or early June usually on the Sunday of Pentecost (Whitsunday). The contest is held in Piazza Signorelli.
Lonely Planet - Cortona
With a layout indicative of someone spilling a bucket of 'Etruscan town' down a hillside, rooms with a view are the rule, not the exception in Cortona. In the late 14th century Fra Angelico lived and worked here, and fellow artists Luca Signorelli (1450–1523) and Pietro da Cortona (1596–1669) were both born within the walls.
Large chunks of Under the Tuscan Sun, the soap-in-the-sun film of the book by Frances Mayes, were shot in Cortona. (You'll look in vain, though, for the fountain in which the eccentric Englishwoman cavorts; it was built specially for filming and is now dry.)