Cortona was an important Etruscan town 2,500 years ago. It held a key position in a valley that was the granary of Etruria. It continued to prosper in Roman times but began to decay at the end of the Roman Empire with the barbarian invasions, depopulation, neglect and the progressive water logging of the valley.
It would take 8 centuries for Cortona to be born again. In this period new merchants, manufacturers and rural bourgeoisie took hold. Public buildings and private houses transformed the city as did the construction of parish churches and convents.
The city appears to have been born again after a book by Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun, was written about the area in 1996. The book was turned into a cliche ridden movie in 2003 and now swarms of tourists come here looking for a bit of magic.
We parked our car just outside one of the arched entrances to the town. Come for a walk through the lovely streets of Cortona. The weather wasn’t great so I can’t offer any Tuscan sun or blue sky.
We had lunch, and later, dinner, in a restaurant with the best position in town. The food was very good…as were the views over the piazza below.
On our wanderings we found a street lined with medieval houses.
Just around the corner was a lovely garden.
There are some great shops in Cortona. It is well set up for tourists.
The hotel we stayed in was very good and offered some wonderful views of the town and surrounding countryside.
We did get a bit of sun as we were about to leave.
Under the Tuscan Sun is a blessing and a curse. On one hand it is great that it attracts visitors to the town. Jobs are created for locals and businesses flourish. On the other are the huge crowds that descend on the town and ruin its authenticity.
If you visit, try going out of season. We were there in May and it was already crowded, perhaps April or October would be a better option.