“Processions of indistinguishable ghosts bore me company to Cortona itself, most sturdily ancient of Italian towns”.
Henry James, Italian Hours, 1909
Immersed in the green Tuscan hills, near the border between Tuscany and neighboring Umbria, Cortona is located on a hill and overlooks the stunning view of Valdichiana.
Always favourite destination for italian and foreigner travellers for its historical and artistic heritage and for the beauty of the landscape, Cortona offers important historical evidence due to its Etruscan origins and its different historic periods.
Everything in Cortona tell us several centuries of history, rich in art and culture, and reveals the spirit of the town in the museums, in the monuments, in the churches, in the square, in the streets… everywhere.
INTERESTING POINTS IN CORTONA
– Piazza della Repubblica: the main square, onto which overlooks the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo (14th century) and the Palazzo Comunale, dating back to the 12th century and extended in the16th century, which stands out because of its massive access staircase to the palace.
– Museum of the Etruscan Academy and the City of Cortona (MAEC): housed in the premises of Palazzo Casali and founded in 1727 by the Accademia Etrusca, the museum hosts notable collections and items from different ages. Some of the significant objects in the museum are the Etruscan Chandelier (a bronze masterpiece dated to the half of the 5th century B.C. and up to now unique in its kind), the archeological finds of big monumental tombs found at the valley bottom: Tumulo I and II of Sodo and Tumulo François in Camucia, with attic ceramics and beautiful goldsmith’s art, the Tabula Cortonensis (an Etruscan contract written on bronze, dated to the 2th century B.C. and very rare for the length of the inscription and for its content), the the Etruscan Academy Art Gallery (which displays valuable works of art of famous local painters such as Luca Signorelli, Pietro Berrettini and Gino Severini).
– Diocesan Museum: the Museum hosts a notable Art Gallery, with masterpieces by Beato Angelico (Annunciation) and by Luca Signorelli (Lamentation over the dead Christ).
– Via Jannelli: the charming street famous for its medieval houses that are perfectly preserved.
– Cathedral (15th century): designed by Cristofanello and Francesco Laparelli. it preserves some canvases by Berrettini and by the school of Signorelli.
– Etruscan walls (4th century): they include long stretches of Etruscan construction perfectly preserved and impressive remains such as the Porta Bifora (2th century), the only known original monumental Etruscan gate to have been preserved to this day.
– Church of San Francesco (13th century): built on the ruins of Roman thermal baths by Brother Elias, who succeeded Saint Francis at the head of the Franciscan Order.
– Church of San Niccolò (15th century): characterised by an elegant “portico”, it preserves the original coffered ceiling and the Gonfalone of the Society of San Niccolò, work of Luca Signorelli.
– Fortress of Girifalco (16th century): designed by Francesco Laparelli and built by the Grand-duke of Tuscany, Cosimo I de’ Medici, for defense, it is today the seat of art exhibitions and photo galleries.
– Way of the Cross (Viale Santa Margherita): it is enriched with fourteen stations made of stone with mosaics representing “The Passion of Christ” and made by Gino Severini in 1947.
– Piazza Garibaldi, called “Carbonaia”: it offers a lovely view of the Valdichiana and of Lake Trasimene.
– Church of San Domenico (15th century): it preserves, among other things, works by Beato Angelico, by Bartolomeo Della Gatta and by Luca Signorelli.
INTERESTING POINTS IN THE SURROUNDINGS OF CORTONA
– Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, called “Il Calcinaio” (15th century): designed by Francesco di Giorgio Martini, one of the most fascinating architects of the Italian Renaissance, this monument is considered as one of the most relevant architectonical masterpieces of the Renaissance.
– Church of Santa Maria Nuova (16th century): designed by Cristofanello and finished by Giorgio Vasari, the church presents a Greek-cross plan with a beautiful Baroque dome.
– Hermitage of “Le Celle” (13th century): Founded by Saint Francis in a very suggestive natural location, it preserves Saint Francis’ cell, which was kept untouched after his death.
– Archaeological Park: it proposes various monuments from the Paleolithic Age to the Roman Age, between which to remember the Etruscan tombs, the Tumuli of Camucia and Sodo (7th-6th B.C.). The tombs have returned goods of stunning richness (Attic vases and finely worked gold jewellery), which testify to the richness of their owners and which are kept in the Museum of the Etruscan Academy and the City of Cortona (MAEC).
Cortona is a lively town where a number of important cultural events yearly take place, such as:
– Cortonantiquaria: it is a national antiques exhibition market considered to be one of the most prestigious antiques fairs at the national and international level.
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