Posted by: Debra Kolkka | July 24, 2015

Cortona, under Tuscan clouds

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.

Casa Debbio

Cortona

Cortona

Casa Debbio

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

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.

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

On our wanderings we found a street lined with medieval houses.

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

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.

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

Cortona

We did get a bit of sun as we were about to leave.

Cortona

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.


Responses

  1. I was passing by there several years ago and we stopped for lunch and a small walk. One day I would like to return as I loved what I saw.

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    • We were there several years ago and arrived just in time for siesta when just about everything except the restaurants was closed. We are happy that we returned and stayed the night, Cortona is a lovely town.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cortina is a lovely town. We stayed nearby on a previous visit and enjoyed much of what Cortona has to offer. The restaurants and shops were great. It was a good base to see that part of Tuscany.

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    • I agree that Cortona would be a good base to see lots of other places as well, there are lots of great towns in the area.

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  3. Outstanding! Amazing the common characteristics Italian town seem to have. How long does it take to get there from Bagni?

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    • We travelled via Arezzo and a few other places, but I think it would take between 2 and 3 hours depending on traffic.

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  4. Cortona is such a lovely city, I was there 2 ago and fell in love with it. Your post brought back wonderful memories, thank you for sharing.

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    • Cortona is lovely, we have enjoyed both our visits there and will return.

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  5. I stayed at an agriturismo near Cortona for three nights at the beginning of April last year and it was fantastic! The weather was cooperative for the most part and there were no real crowds to speak of. Loved it!

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    • April is a great month to travel in Italy. This year was especially good as the weather was excellent. The 2 previous years it rained a lot.

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  6. You are right, Deb, “Under the Tuscan Sun” has been a blessing and a curse for Cortona, but has given jobs to the locals and increased property prices. You can even rent Bramasole, fully restored now http://hookedonhouses.net/2012/02/27/under-the-tuscan-sun-the-real-life-renovated-villa/
    October is a good month to visit.

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    • I think the benefits outweigh the downside. Popularity brings new life to these lovely old towns.

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  7. Beautiful Cortona. I went there many years ago. It has everything, and seems to be at another level after the Frances May book, which was a good thing. Reminds me a little bit of San Gimignano, an already
    tourist- successful hill village until the mid 1990’s. It then became very busy at about the same time as images of it were beamed across the world when Tony Blair started taking his holidays there! No coincidence i’m sure, its impossible to keep a good thing quiet for very long!

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    • It is generally a good thing that people visit these villages and spend money. Perhaps we need a movie to be set in Bagni di Lucca.

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      • That’s not a bad idea actually. There are one or two film directors who seem to like filming in Tuscany, and Bagni di Lucca had a racy reputation once upon a time. There must be a good story there!

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  8. Cliche or not. It’s beautiful.

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  9. Looks like you ate lunch in the perfect spot for people watching.

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    • It was, but the food was very good too, which is why we returned.

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  10. A dilemma indeed. And yet your wonderful photos make it all seem a real town not a toy town at all. Tourists can’t take away the Italian magic.

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    • The town is genuine and very beautiful, you just have to ignore the crowds.

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  11. great pictures, I haven’t been to Cortona YET! :)The movie could have been better, Debra I agree. In fact I really wished they hadn’t changed it from the book. No wonder we are all more prejudiced towards books 😉

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    • The book was much better than the film. Cortona is a very pretty town to visit.

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  12. Lovely photos, Debra. It looks picture perfect there. 🙂

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  13. It is just lovely whether or not there is sunshine – great pictures!

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    • It rained a little while we were there, but it didn’t really matter. Cortona has lots of interesting things to offer visitors. Be bought some lovely plates which are now in Australia with us.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. It’s so beautiful there, quite breathtaking really. I haven’t seen that film though but now I want to (even if it is cliched).

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    • There is not all that much of the town in the movie, but the place where we had lunch was featured.

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  15. Cortona is now our second home, as this will be our 5th year spending significant time there and writing about our adventures. We have made many wonderful local friends and will be harvesting with them soon. We love everything about it! As for the movie, I agree, it doesn’t really show much of Cortona, but it and the book did put Cortona on the map, a blessing and a curse, as you mention. And although crowded in the summer, we find that many tourists are day trippers and the crowds lessen early in the week and at night. Always happy to read about Cortona! Grazie, Judy

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    • It is a bit like San Gimignano, which is also crowded during the day, but much better after 5.00pm when many tourists get back on the bus and head off somewhere else. Staying overnight is a good idea. I like to get up early before the crowds too.

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  16. Cool-looking for a cemetery. I smiled on your “cliché ridden movie”. 🙂 Sorry to brought this up, but it reminds me of San Marino.

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  17. […] visited Poppi, Castiglion Fiorentino , Cortona and Arezzo, a firm favourite. I don’t know why more tourists don’t visit Arezzo, but […]

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