Cortona boasts old Etruscan origins, and still has very well preserved ancient walls. It was home during the centuries to many famous figures that loved this beautiful place, from Renaissance times to Baroque, to the years of Italian Futurismo at the beginning of the last century. Testimonies of their work and many masterpieces are collected in the MAEC Museum and in the Diocesan Museum of Art, but also in the many churches spread around the historical centre. From the walls the view is wonderful: open landscapes from the Val di Chiana down to the Trasimeno Lake.
Just outside the walls lies the Franciscan hermitage, or monastery, Le Celle, the very first built by San Francesco d’Assisi in 1211. A small community of friars still lives here. Over the centuries the monastery was enlarged and renovated various times, but Francesco’s tiny cell was preserved, and can be visited even today.
Cortona also features in a prominent role in Francis Mayes’ bestselling book “Under the Tuscan Sun”. Mayes spends a part of the year in Cortona, one of the many persons who were deeply fascinated by the town. What is so charming in Cortona is the very particular, magical atmosphere of the place, giving you the feeling you are not quite in a city, but in the drawing room of a great noble house, where everyone knows each other, and all are somehow already known to you, and you can reconcile with yourself