An excellent setting for the perfect sight seeing holiday, or the start to your honeymoon, our medieval 3-storey home lies at the historic heart of walled Cortona, with its gourmet restaurants; an Etruscan hill town, profiled against rolling oak and olive clad hills, where Frances Mayes wrote 'Under the Tuscan Sun', favoured by countless couples as their perfect romantic wedding venue.
Approach our solid wooden front door up a cobbled alleyway, 30 metres from Cortona's only flat street, and enter the gracious sitting room with comfortable leather seating, cosy pellet stove, and cloakroom off. A vaulted stairway (with handrails) leads up one flight to the dining room, a bright, graciously furnished living space, cleverly combining cooking and eating, thanks to an elegant handmade kitchen equipped with modern appliances.
Step out from this floor into the small shady garden - a good spot for your morning coffee; or continue upstairs to the two generous double bedrooms with luxury en suite bathrooms. Ceilings throughout are beamed in character Tuscan manner; the floors are quality 'cotto' (cooked tile). The house is furnished to the highest standard with our family antiques, a real "home from home".
2 minutes' stroll away lie Cortona's bustling pavement cafes and fine, family-run restaurants; not to mention its Etruscan museum, art gallery, exhibition centres and medieval churches. In the evening, join the Passeggiata through the park towards the city's nicely landscaped swimming pool (open June to end August).
|Size||Sleeps up to 4, 2 bedrooms|
|Will consider||Short breaks (1-4 days)|
|Notes||No pets allowed, No smoking at this property|
|General||Central heating, Air conditioning, TV, CD player, Telephone, Wi-Fi available|
|Standard||Kettle, Toaster, Iron, Hair dryer|
|Utilities||Clothes dryer, Dishwasher, Cooker, Microwave, Fridge, Freezer, Washing machine|
|Rooms||2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms of which 2 En suites|
|Furniture||Double beds (2), Dining seats for 7, Lounge seats for 6|
|Other||Linen provided, Towels provided|
An important trading centre in pre Roman times, the hilltop towns of Etruria (now Tuscany) were home to the legendary Etruscans, whose tomb goods fill the many local museums, chief amongst which Cortona's Etruscan Museum. Through the Middle Ages, powerful families acquired the urban strongholds: Ghibellines at war with Guelfs, the Papal State of Perugia (in Umbria) at war with Imperial Arezzo, who in turn overwhelmed Cortona, until the Medici conquered and fortified it: the city walls tell the story. Having fought himself in the wars, St Francis of Assisi travelled from Cortona's Le Celle monastery to lofty La Verna, bequeathing a strong Franciscan presence, visible today. Italian Unification in 1861 did little to merge the diverse city states; nor, it seems, has the creation of the Region of Tuscany. Siena, Arezzo, Cortona, Lucignano, Castiglion Fiorentino, Chiusi Monterchi, Montepulciano: each so rich in treasures, fiercely guarding its character, customs - and bylaws! All within easy reach, and each worth exploring while you stay with us, not least for the famous Tuscan products: wine, oil, ceramics, olive wood and hearty cuisine, in the clear bright light and warm summer temperatures visitors can almost take for granted.
Many come to Cortona to get married, thanks to its uniquely photogenic setting and romantic atmosphere; others come for its medieval churches and alleyways; all enjoy its gastronomy, along with its wide range of festivals and pageants. Being so central, yet secluded, our house is the perfect base and refuge for honeymooners, festival goers and sightseers alike.
Within the walls, festivals start at Easter, a very colourful affair. The Copper Festival, and the Festa of Santa Margarita follow 22 May, with the Medieval Week 1-9 June (including the Giostro dell'Archidado or Crossbow Contest, on 9 June). In June Cortona also hosts the Poetry and Coffee Festival. July as a whole is the 'archaeological month' with many free activities and guided access to normally restricted sites. Last year's "Cortona Mix Festival" was so well received, it's being repeated, 27 July - 4 August, great entertainment with a classical flavour and participation, for which our house could not be better located!
All spring, summer and autumn, Cortona's pavement cafes hum with life, while the surrounding villages celebrate local products - wine, oil, cheese, beefsteak - even frogs and snails, all welcome! Concerts, operas and films can be sampled in Cortona's attractive Neo Classical Teatro Signorelli, along with numerous exhibitions in the historic venues of Cortona's Fortezza and its many palazzi.
Nearby in Umbria, Perugia hosts a world famous Jazz festival 5-14 July, followed by the Trasimeno Blues Festival 18-28 July, Castel Rigone's celebration of young classical musicians, and Citta' di Castello's International Music Festival at the end of August.
In the meantime Montepulciano is not too far to go for its famous wines and International Arts Festival 19-28 July.
Tuscany was at the heart of Italy's Renaissance, and Cortona today houses many masterpieces. Visit the art gallery with works by Fra Angelico, who lived here as a Dominican monk; and by Luca Signorelli, born here. The church of San Francesco, contemporary with Assisi's Basilica and also built by Fra Elia Coppi, contains precious relics and fresco fragments. Other architectural masterpieces such as San Niccolo and San Filippo Neri repay a visit. A climb through the winding alleyways, past two closed orders of nuns, brings the enthusiast to the Medici Fortress, now an exhibition centre, with outstanding panoramic views of the Chiana Valley.
Piero Della Francesca was born in nearby San Sepolchro: his works can be seen in Arezzo and Monterchi. Much of Perugino's work can be viewed in Perugia or at his birthplace, Città della Pieve. As well as hosting the world famous "Palio" horse race, Siena has two museums of great quality. Assisi is a must for the 13th Century decoration of its Basilica by Giotto and others.
Sporting activities: Cortona's unique position offers a wide variety of walks, starting from our front door with a circular walk through the town park, past Francis Mayes' house and out to Torreone. One can trace the route of Hannibal's soldiers above Lake Trasimene, or follow the original 13th century mule tracks travelled by St Francis. Many paths are adopted by the Touring Club of Italy whose maps and guides can be purchased in Cortona's bookshop. One such offers 18 circular walks on the Tuscan/Umbrian border, of varying lengths and difficulty.
This is spectacular scenery for road and mountain biking. Bikes can be hired nearby to explore the mountains, circumnavigate the Lake on a newly dedicated trail, or follow the so-called cycle path of the Princes along the valley. For swimming we recommend Cortona's open air pool, or the safe shallow beaches of Lake Trasimene and its islands. Cortona has an active tennis club. A world standard golf course is opening this year, 20 minutes drive from Cortona.
Our local expertise is always available to guests: on booking, and when we introduce you to the house, with a free orientation walk of Cortona, or on request throughout your stay. We will gladly set you up with vineyard tours, wine tasting lunches, Italian tuition, guided visits and suggested itineraries.