This lovely quaint historical town is steeped in culture and art with great shopping and eateries in its picturesque town streets and squares
Situated on top of a hill with olives and vineyards creping up to it's ancient walls, you really won't find anywhere as quintessentially Tuscan as the charming town of Cortona. A delightful tumble of medieval streets, built around a central piazza and rich in history and art. Its spectacular location offers views of the surrounding valleys on all sides and even as far as Lake Trasimeno.
Situated 85km south east of Florence, this popular town has been attracting large numbers of visitors for many years, and it's easy to see why.
What to do
Although small in size, you will find plenty to do in Cortona. First stop for history lovers must be The Etrusan Academy Museum of Cortona. Visitors are often surprised to find such a large and extensive museum tucked away in Cortona's backstreets. In fact it has been quoted as "one of the most important Etruscan museums in Italy, and therefore the world." Situated across 4 floors we recommend a couple of hours to discover everything it has to offer.
Taking time to simply relax and soak up the atmosphere in the Piazza della Republica is a 'must do' whilst in Cortona. This beautiful square, unchanged since medieval times, is the perfect spot to soak up the Tuscan sun whilst daydreaming and people watching. With its charming atmosphere, this square is one of those places you'll fall in love with and never want to leave.
Getting lost and exploring the winding medieval lanes is the perfect way to while away an afternoon. Hunt out the Via Janelli and it's quaint medieval houses, make sure to have your camera to hand to capture its romantic charms. Take a hike up to the beautiful Basillica di Santa, situated atop a hill hill just outside the town. This Neo-Gothic church offers an impressive interior rich with paintings and sculpture. As well as spectacular views from its breathtaking location, well worth the hike!
Also worth a visit is the nearby Celle Hermiatage. Just a short drive away this 13th century complex is best known for its association with St.Francis of Assisi, who once lived there.
What to eat
Not only visited for its history and beauty Cortona is recognised as one of Tuscany's finest culinary hotspots. Try La Bucaccia, perfectly located in one of Cortona's steepest and most enchanting streets. This charming restaurant run by a husband and wife team offers local Tuscan cuisine, cozy, yet elegant dining rooms and spectacular views from its street-side terrace.
For one of Cortona's most popular and long established restaurant, head to Trattoria Darando. This classic Tuscan restaurant has been owned and run by the same family since it's opening in the 1980s and offers a selection of local hearty dishes as well as locally sourced wines.
For beer lovers, discover the region's growing craft brewery scene at Birrificio Cortonese. This cozy brewpub situated in the town's historic centre specialises in locally brewed beers served alomgside pizza and a selection of sharing boards.
How to get there
Cortona is located in eastern Tuscany, near to the border of Umbria and around 40 minutes drive from Montepulciano. If arriving by car, both from the north and the south, take the Valdichiana exit from the A1 highway which is called the Autostrada del Sole. Take the E45 freeway in the direction of Perugia and then second exit for Cortona. If arriving by train the closest station is Camucia-Cortona approximately 3km away. There are direct trains from Florence and Rome also trains from Foligno (via Perugia)
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