This medieval village, existing since the Etruscan times, rises on a steep crag from where the vast landscape of the Val di Chiana plain, in the area of Arezzo, can be admired. It stands out in the distance for the warm colours of its houses and buildings in sandstone. The conformation of this part of the land is varied and this can be seen in the roads, some of which are very steep.
Risen in the Etruscan times, the town was of commercial importance (lucumonia). The significant ruins of the Etruscan walls bear witness to this and are still clearly visible to this day, extending over three kilometres, as well as the melon-shaped, typical, aristocratic tombs which form an archeological park of great interest. Particularly important is the “Secondo Tumulo del Sodo” (the Second Grave of Sodo), an important ancient tomb (VI century BC) with a monumental flight of steps decorated with large groups of sculptures.
Under the Roman power for some centuries, the town declined after the occupation of the Goths. In the Middle Ages it was the centre of disputes between Florentines, Sienese and the people from Arezzo, later ending under the dominion of the “Casali”. The Town Hall and that of the “Capitano del Popolo” date back to those years, giving onto the scenic Piazza della Repubblica ( famous thanks to the film “Under the Tuscan sun”).
Some of the most extraordinary masterpieces are exhibited in the “Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona”, housed in Palazza Casali; these include the Etruscan chandelier, the famous “Tabula Cortonensis”, a sheet of bronze with one of the longest inscriptions in Etruscan.
“The Annunciation” painted in 1430 by Fra Angelico is to be admired at the “Museo Diocesano”, while immediately out of the walls the church of “Santa Maria delle Grazie del Calcinaio”, the work of one of the most important architects of the Renaissance, Francesco di Giorgo Martini, stands out.
The traditional cuisine in Cortona is essentially rustic, simple dishes using natural ingredients, mainly vegetables, with chicken and pigeons as well as pork. Today it is possible to savour starters such as “crostini neri” with chicken livers, “bruschetta” with freshly-milled oil and “cavolo nero”, “panzanella”. First courses are generally “pici” or home-made pasta with “ragù”, bread soup, pappardelle with hare sauce. The second courses are usually roasts (goose, rabbit, chicken, game), tripe, wild-boar casserole, veal steak, pork livers, “porcini” mushrooms; one of the side dishes are beans in tomato sauce (“fagioli all’uccelletto”); typical desserts are the “struffoli” for Carnival and the “ciaramiglia”, a traditional Easter sweet.More