Holiday in Cortona
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60-62 Quercia verde,
52 044 -  Cortona (AR)
+39 338 88 32 363


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Briefly > Cortona | Painters | Etruscans | Laudario di Cortona


Cortona is said to be « la mamma di Troia e la nonna di Roma »:  legend has it that Dardano, born in Cortona of the union between Jupiter and Electra, daughter of Atlanta, left Cortona to found Troy, and that Aeneas fled Troy to found Rome.

Ulysses finished his days in Cortona and his ashes were scattered there.

Cortona was one of the 12 member cities of the Etruscan League.

The Battle of Trasimeno (23 June 217 BC, when Hannibal routed the Roman legions under Consul Flaminius and thereby nearly defeated Rome), took place on Cortona territory.  A number of place names (e.g. Ossaia) remain as reminders.

Cortona obtained Roman citizenship before Augustus. It suffered the same fate as the other Italian cities under the Empire.

Renaissance of Cortona

Cortona disappeared from the map of Europe with the massive invasions that saw the end of the western Roman Empire. 

The city reappeared in the 11th century as an independent state but was purchased by the Republic of Florence from the King of Naples in 1410. 

Cortona played a significant role in the development of the Franciscan movement:  Saint Francis of Assisi lived there for long periods of time and it was the home of Brother Elias, one of the founders of the Franciscan order. 

Cortona was the birthplace of a number of famous artists, including Signorelli, Pietro Berrettini (called Pietro of Cortona) and Bocadoro, the architect of the Hôtel de Ville in Paris.  Fra Angelico and Vasari both visited the city and left their mark.

In the 18th century a group of young aristocrats founded the Etruscan Academy, an erudite assembly of bibliophiles, philosophers and collectors.  They gathered a rich archaeological collection and an extensive library and later founded the Museum, which today houses a fascinating, heterogeneous mixture of art collections, sculptures, mosaics, books, jewellery, furniture, coins and other artefacts.     

Cortona today

The city has certainly waned in splendour and influence over the years:  shortly after the Second World War there were 40,000 inhabitants living within the walls, now there are only 8,000.

But Cortona is very fortunate in that it has hardly changed since the 18th century and this makes it one of the most admired and famous cities in Italy.  Seventy percent of the inhabitants are non-Italian, so it is a polyglot and cosmopolitan place. 

The Commune of Cortona is the second largest in Europe, encompassing mountains, hills, valleys and plains. One of its many attractions is the variety of landscape in the close vicinity.

Numerous artists and personalities continue to choose Cortona as their home.  Suffice it to say here that it is home to the composer of “Che sera, sera” and of the famous Italian singing star Jovanotti. 

Find out more:  Cortona On line