When the temperature rises and the days are much too nice to stay at home, Cortona, from the height of its 600 metres, is the ideal destination to pass a pleasant weekend in the open air, deep in the Tuscan hills.
If, more than anything else, you want to relax and be pampered there is no doubt: just outside the city walls you will find the Relais la Corte dei Papi (lacortedeipapi.com), The name alone should be enough to convince even the most sceptical, while for those who are looking for an equally charming but more central place to stay, to experience the true atmosphere of the historic centre, the right place is La Corte di Ambra (cortonaluxuryrooms.com).
Once you are inside the walls, you can use the Piazza della Repubblica and the Palazzo Comunale (the Town Hall) as your reference points. From here every direction is a good one, and since the town has numerous churches and monuments, it is possible to walk about at random… you will certainly find something to attract your attention!
In any event, try not to leave without seeing the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta, the Church of San Francesco and, outside the walls, the Abbey of Farneta and the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie di Calcinaio. Climbing to the highest points of the town calls for a comfortable pair of shoes and fit legs, but waiting for you when you reach the summit is a view of the entire Val di Chiana.
To regain your strength nothing is better than some bruschetta (toasted bread seasoned with oil and sliced tomatoes) and a good glass of wine at the wine bar, Fett’unta (winebarcortona.com). As you continually climb and descend, amongst picturesque side streets and steep flights of steps, you will find numerous artisan workshops and small shops, two of which you certainly will not be able to resist: Antonio Massarutto (antoniomassarutto.it) for sculpture and jewellery that is decidedly unique, and Busatti Cortona, for delightful accessories for the home.
It is absolutely forbidden to leave without having eaten at least one plate of Pici and a Tagliata at the Osteria del Teatro (osteriacortona.com), which is more of an institution than a restaurant.
ADVICE: thanks to a calendar that always has plenty of events, a stop-over at Cortona is a good idea at any time of the year, but in the summer the town is more lively and animated than ever, due to two dates that have by now become well-known: “Cortona On the Move” (cortonaonthemove.com), a photography festival entirely dedicated to the theme of travel, and the “Mix Festival” (mixfestival.it), a week of meetings, screenings, concerts and shows in which art and language of every genre are mixed together.
Absolutely not to be missed!
Text by Elena Bottai