What to See and Do
From Piazza Garibaldi the views of Lake Trasimeno are stunning
The Piazza della Repubblica (Picture 3) is the main square in town and is flanked by the 13th century Palazzo Comunale which was refurbished twice, in the 16th and 19th centuries respectively. North of Piazza della Repubblica another important square is lorded over by the 13th century Palazzo Casali (Picture 2) housing the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca (tel. 0575 63 04 15) displaying Etruscan bronzes, among which is the remarkable oil lamp with depictions of sirens, satyrs and gorgons, medieval paintings and pieces of furniture from the 18th century. There is a also a room displaying 18th century "globes of heaven and earth" and a collection of Egyptian mummies. The museum also exhibits finds from Etruscan tombs and archaeological models of Etruscan and Roman ruins, jewellery, pottery and mosaics. The museum´s library dates back to the 1700s. To make the most of the museum and its collection there is an English guided tour and a tour to the Etruscan tombs near Cortona.
The cathedral (Picture 1) in the Piazza del Duomo was originally Romanesque, later on it was refurbished in the Renaissance period and further modification was added in the 18th century leaving its original Romanesque appearance forgotten. Its museum is its main attraction (tel. 0575 6 28 30). and houses Luca Signorelli’s Grief Over the Dead Christ, Pietro Lorenzetti’s Crucifixion, Fra Angelico‘s Annunciation and frescoes depicting scenes of the Oratorio created by artists of Vasari’s workshop.
The Church of Saint Margaret is located on Piazza Santa Margherita. The church was built in the 19th century and houses the patron saint in a glass tomb. Margaret was a mistress who later turned into a devoted believer when she came to Cortona. She took her communion and worked for the poor and ill. Her canonization was decided on in the 18th century by Benedict XIII.
Fortezza Medicea which is located further up the hill (tel. 0575 63 04 159) gives marvellous views of the landscape around the walls.
For perhaps a more relaxing activity there are films in English on at Giardino del Parterre.
May or June fill the town with festive atmosphere at the Giostra dell’Archidado. There are trumpeters playing their instruments, parades and a crossbow competition entered by neighbourhoods which re-enacts the medieval competitions. Historic costumes are plentiful to complete the picture.
At the end of August and beginning of September an antique fair is held in Cortona attracting people from all over Italy.
The Sagra del Fungo Porcino, a festival themed on this type of mushroom is held in August and in the same month is the Sagra della Bistecca, in which steak is honoured!
The tourist information office is at Via Nazionale 42 and can give you detailed information on activities such as excursions, cycling and walking. Cortona Wellness (www.Cortonawellness.com) offers walking tours in the Cortonese countryside.
Also visit the web site of the Tuscan Sun Festival that is Cortona's main festival taking place each year in town during the summer season.