Bedrooms 3, Bathrooms 3, Sleeps 6
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The ancient town of Cortona, with Etruscan origins dating back to 800 BC, sits on a hilltop 1600 feet above sea level, 9 miles north of Lake Trasimeno, 65 miles south of Florence and 120 miles north of Rome. Much-praised by Frances Mayes in her best-selling diary “Under The Tuscan Sun”, the view facing west from Cortona’s ramparts is one of the most spectacular in Europe. The immense Chiana valley stretches out before you as far as the eye can see, to the hills of Siena 40 miles away and the slopes of Mont’Amiata, an extinct volcano further south, down to the famous wine-growing area of Montalcino. You can also see the western tip of Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake in central Italy, where Hannibal defeated an entire Roman legion in 217 BC. And in the center of the valley, 15 miles away, stands proud Montepulciano, another of Tuscany’s jewels, noted for its delicious “Vino Nobile” wines.
The Town of Cortona itself has so many qualities and attractions, with well-stocked shops selling locally produced delicatessen and wines, hand-made pottery, textiles, antique furniture, objets d’arts, designer clothes and jewellery. Above all it offers an extensive range of inviting bars, restaurants and trattorias where you can taste great local cooking and excellent regional wines. During the summer months the town puts on a series of open-air concerts, opera and chamber music ensembles, theatrical productions, an international photo festival (Cortona On The Move) plus a variety of popular entertainment events and food festivals.
Cortona also boasts one of the earliest Franciscan monasteries founded (in 1211) by Saint Francis of Assisi, hidden in an enchanting gorge nearby. It also has some beautiful churches, such as “Madonna del Calcinaio”, designed and built by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1485) and a distinguished art gallery - il Museo Diocesano - housing works by Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca and his pupil Luca Signorelli, a native of Cortona. And finally, at the top of the hill, there is the Church of the Patron Saint of Cortona - La Chiesa di Santa Margherita - protected by an imposing Medici Fortess, La Fortezza di Girifalco.