Palazzo Tommasi
(view from Duomo)

Sightseeing Highlights




Cortona, atop its lofty perch at 650m (~2,100 ft.) where you're "closer to God",  has been blessed over many centuries with a wealth of famous citizens, structures, and artifacts.  Below are listed only a few of the prominent structures, artwork, and figures.

Notable structures range from the Etruscan tombs (or Melone - open only a few days a year) to the great churches and palaces.  Chief among these are Palazzo Comunale (town hall, 13th c.) in piazza della Repubblica, Palazzo Casali (in piazza Signorelli; houses the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca), and Palazzo Tommasi (across from the Duomo). 

Churches include the Duomo, which dates to the 1200s; Chiesa del Gesù (houses the Museo Diocesano - across the piazza from the Duomo); S. Margherita (at the top of the town - wherein lies the body of one of Cortona's patron saints, Santa Margherita, (who died in 1297); and two small gems, San Cristoforo and San Nicolò dating from 12th/15th centuries, respectively. Note: most churches are closed daily 12:00-15:00 during siesta.

Artifacts range from an amazing Etruscan chandelier (ca 500 BC) in the Etruscan Museum to the magnificent Annuciation by Beato Angelico (1400-1455) in the Museo Diocesano.  There are many paintings and buildings (e.g. Palazzo Tommasi, formerly Palazzo Zefferini) with major works done in the early 1600s by Giovanni, Francesco, and Pietro Berrettini (1596-1669), aka Pietro da Cortona; works by local artists Luca Signorelli (1450-1523) in the Museo Diocesano and S. Nicolò (works also in the Sistine Chapel in Rome); and by GinoSeverini, who created the stations of the cross mosaics lining via S. Margherita. Note: Mar 5 - July 3, 2011 - Special Exhibition of 40 Etruscan artifacts from the Louvre on exhibit at Palazzo Casali in the Etruscan Museum

Also to be counted are the poet Francesco Benedetti (1785-1821) who wrote Gismonda and Tamerlano; in recent times we include the Cortona-born rap artist and author Lorenzo Cherubini aka Jovanotti (Villetta Fiorita).

Lago Trasimeno is a short drive from Cortona and the towns surrounding the lake (e.g. Castiglione del Lago, Passignano, San Feliciano, and Tuoro provide pleasant places to walk, dine, and enjoy the water. There are also ferries (traghetti) you can take to visit several of the islands.

Many visitors also want to see Bramasole, the house in Under the Tuscan Sun.  To get to the house, walk all the way through the Giardino Pubblico, go past the Tennis Club, and continue on viale Passerini uphill for ~ 1km.  Bramasole is on your left (picture at left). You can also drive past Bramasole: take the road on the west side of Cortona to Torreone; turn right at Torreone towards the Church of S. Margherita and, where that road splits into three at a small Bar, take the road to the left downhill; Bramasole will be on your right in ~0.5km. Note: Bramasole is a private residence and there are no tours. The Mayes' purchased (and remodelled extensively - including landscaping and a pool of "notable dimensions" - since at least Spring 2001) a rustic farmhouse NW of Cortona on the downhill slope of Mt. San Egidio (in loc. S. Egidio); take a left turn across the road from Castelgirardi (dir. Cantalena) and go past Villa Gugliemesca to where the road forks into a tarmac one which heads up to the top of Mt. San Egidio and a steep (and rough) strada bianca which descends and bisects the "strada basolata." The left-hand fork leads to the new house; however, there is a good view of the house and grounds from a turnout on the tarmac road. The new house "Fonte delle Foglie" (picture below) was featured, with pictures and a story of how they found the house and survived another restoration, in Francis' latest book "Bringing Tuscany Home". "Fonte delle Foglie" has been sold. Post sale, a bevy of contractors have been doing restauration and remodel work on the house and grounds of Bramasole.
An email received from the Mayes' in November 2003 states that they do not plan to move from Bramasole and that they did not purchase the second house because of tourist traffic past Bramasole. In fact, according to correspondence from Frances Mayes to a writer of the NJ Star Ledger (article published September 18, 2003), the Mayes' find the vast majority of tourists who come by Bramasole to be interesting and friendly; the Mayes' sometimes invite them into the gated property to view the garden. [Note: Notwithstanding that, it appears that the Mayes' spend most of their time at Fonte delle Foglie when they are in Cortona; Bramasole rarely appears to have anyone there with the exception of the caretaker/landscaper.]

Fonte delle Foglie
Fonte delle Foglie - Toscana Servizi Immobiliari

In a related move, a local immobiliare reports that Barrett Wissman has sold his house "Villa Bacchino" which is on a strada bianca to the N. not far outside Cortona for about 3 million euros. Wissman is owner & chairman of the arts management company IMG Artists which produces the Tuscan Sun Festival that relocated in 2012 from Cortona to Florence.

Via Rinfrena was reputed to be the "street of the prostitutes" in times when Cortona was under Roman rule - it is conveniently located just to the right after you enter Porta Colonia.

Etruscan and Diocesan Museums - priceless exhibits  portraying Cortona history

Museum Hours
Etruscan Mus.
Guided Tours available

Diocesan Mus.
9:30-13:00; 15:30-19:00
10:00-13:00; 15:30-16:00
10:00-13:00; 15:00-17:00


Bronze lamp
Etruscan lamp
(Museo Etrusco)


Fra Angelico's Annuciazione
Fra Angelico's
(Museo Diocesano)


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