Climb up the winding narrow streets of this hilltop town and admire gorgeous vistas of verdant Tuscan valleys from elevated vantage points.
A stone wall encloses the red-roofed medieval buildings that make up the hilltop settlement of Cortona, a cultural hub in the Val di Chiana region. Explore centuries-old churches and enjoy superb views of the scenic Val di Chiana countryside.
Ask locals about some of the stories associated with the town. Legend has it that Cortona was built by a descendent of the biblical figure Noah many years after the Great Flood. The location was chosen because of its high elevation and picturesque views.
Among the most famous landmarks in town is the Cathedral of Cortona, a Renaissance structure that was built over an earlier Romanesque church. Enter to see the beautifully carved 17th-century altars and the religious paintings in the choir.
Just south of the town center is the Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio church, which was constructed during the late 15th and early 16th century. Admire the Latin cross plan layout, the Renaissance design of the central dome and the pretty surrounding olive trees. The church of Santa Maria Nuova, which was built in the 16th and 17th centuries, features a Baroque-style dome.
Head to the central Piazza della Repubblica, a town square lined with historic buildings. Relax at one of the cafés here and survey the 13th-century Palazzo Comunale and the elegant clock tower.
Learn about the local culture at the Museo Diocesano Del Capitolo art museum and the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca, which contains relics from Etruscan and Roman times.
Drive south from Arezzo for 19 miles (31 kilometers) to reach Cortona, which is in the southeastern part of Tuscany. Fly to either Perugia San Francesco d’Assisi – Umbria International Airport or Florence Airport. Trains run directly from Rome, Florence and Arezzo. Expect hot weather from May to September and cold winters.
With delightful country views and medieval relics, Cortona is among the most appealing of Tuscany’s many charming hill towns.