Welcome to Cortona!
Cortona is located in Tuscany and sits at an altitude of 585 meters and is approximately 185km from Florence and 50km from Perugia (in Umbria).
Found in the province of Arezzo, Cortona is the main cultural and tourist center of the Val di Chiana, and let me say, the views are breathtaking!
With a long Etruscan history, Cortona is still regarded as a strategic location, that allows to reach important artistic and cultural centres around the Italian peninsula.
Cortona has always been a fascinating and fertile area, enhanced by the nearby Lake Trasimeno.
Expect bold colors, feel the enchantment of the hill on which it stands, with its mythical history, its sacredness, its art and last but not least, Tuscan cuisine and wine!
Tourist by Chance | Cortona Highlights
As with many hill top towns the views from Cortona are amazing!
Enjoy the beautiful Tuscan country side dotted with farms, beautiful lakes, impressive churches, and meticulous vineyards.
Il Cibo e il vino (food and wine)!
Make sure to try ‘Coniglio in porchetta’ (Roast rabbit), ‘Ficattole’ (fried left over bread dough), ‘Gnocchi alla fiorentina’ (an absolute calorie bomb but delicious) and to finish it all off, try the ‘Ricciarelli’ for dessert.
Accompany these wonderful dishes with a wonderful glass of local Syrah for a real Cortona experience.
Cortona | Tourist by Chance Itinerary
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio
One of the most important churches in all of Tuscany, it is a must for devout Christians and lovers of architecture.
Eremo Le Celle
Le Celle was recommended by the owner of Bar 500 and told me about this ‘unmissable site’.
Built by St. Francis and Brother Elia in the 1200’s, they were the cells (celle in Italian) of Franciscan monks, where they lived.
Without a doubt, the highlight is the chapel and this whole experience is suitable for all type of travellers.
Church of San Francesco
By this stage you might be asking why we visit so many churches?
Well the truth is that some of the most amazing works of art are found in churches around Italy, and the church of St. Francis is no different.
Dating back to the 13th century, the importance of this church is due to the fact that Elia da Cortona, the second Minister General of the Order of the Frati Minori (Friars Minor), built it himself!
Palazzo Comunale (City Hall)
Welcome to the ‘center of town’, where you can enjoy a glass of Prosecco for ‘aperitivo’ time, people watch and see Cortona come to life.
While you are there, do not miss the less crowded Piazza Signorelli (just behind to your right, when facing the Palazzo) where you will find the famous theatre.
On Sunday mornings it has a flea market where you will find antiques and other local nicknacks.
Local tip: Remember to be a true a local spend some time in the main piazza’s of a city or town.
Obelisk dedicate to Giuseppe Garibaldi
A photographers dream (amateur or professional) and the one of the best spots to take in the wide view of the Val di Chiana to Lake Trasimeno and Montepulciano.
Le Contesse Church
Today stands the Hotel Oasi Neumann hotel but the facade of the ex-church, is incredible.
In 1718 Iannelli, a Cortonese architect, built the present day Baroque church on the 1237 site, of the pre-existing church of the Clarisse nuns.
Make sure to ask to go visit the impressive gardens within the hotel.
Basilica di Santa Margherita
Put your walking shoes on because getting there is not an easy task, certainly worth it though!
The sanctuary is located on a hill, just below the Medici Fortress (which I did not visit) and the main altar is where the body of St. Margaret (1249- 1297) is preserved.
Where to Stay in Cortona?
In Cortona, I spent 2 nights to catch up on some well deserved rest, after a few long days on the road.
Monastery Stays helped me book my stays at Hotel Oasi Neumann (1km hike to town) and Casa per Ferie Betania (very basic).
I personally recommend Hotel Oasi Neumann for rooms and available services, when staying in Cortona.
How to get to Cortona
Getting from Florence to Cortona by public transport is relatively easy, however, I do suggest you hire a car.
Relatively inexpensive, a car gives you the freedom to explore this amazing part of the world with ease.
The closest international airport is San Francesco d’Assisi Airport, Perugia (approx. 60km).
There are three main public car parking one for a fee with escalators that lead directly into the center.
In the summer parking can be difficult in Cortona, however, with a bit of patience you will find a spot.
Drive in in the historical center is not allowed because it is a limited traffic area, called ZTL (Zona Traffico Limitato) and access is for residents only.
For more detailed information, click ‘more options’ top right of map.
From Rome (approx. 2.5hrs) or Florence (1.5hrs) the quickest solution is to get a regional train to Camucia-Cortona station.
For approximately 11-12EUR you can get to Cortona from Rome and from Florence 10-11EUR.
Train schedules and prices go to Trenitalia.com.
Camucia-Cortona train station is connected to Piazza Garibaldi by a local bus service, found just outside the station.
Buses run approximately every half an hour (summer months) to an hour.
The website with time tables etc (http://www.lfi.it/) is all in Italian and very complicated to use (this coming from an Italian!).