Cortona, Italy Is The Perfect Destination To Combine Food, Wine, And Art

Deep, within the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy — located within the province of Arezzo — sits a charming village high atop a fortressed hill overlooking the stunning Val di Chiana (Chiana Valley). Known for its fantastic, red, Tuscan wines and vast fields of blossoming sunflowers, this 2,000-year-old, walled, hilltop town boasts Etruscan and Roman medieval architecture, deeply rich in history, culture, and legends.

Bordering both Siena and Umbria, the picturesque village of Cortona is a great base for exploring additional medieval villages and towns nearby, like Montepulciano, Pienza, Orvieto, San Gimignano, Perugia, and Assisi. Known as the "Mother of Troy," and "Grandmother of Rome," this once-hidden pearl of Tuscany swiftly rose to fame thanks to the literary work and movie, "Under the Tuscan Sun." And, while both the book and film generated a mass influx of tourists to Cortona's narrow, steep, cobbled streets and alleyways soon after their releases, its peaceful atmosphere and stunning views remain whole-heartedly intact.

Quite literally under the Tuscan sun

Due to Cortona's prominent and elevated, 1,600-meter position — its panoramic views overlooking the Chiana and Tiber valleys, and Lake Trasimeno, give way to some of the most spectacular, breathtaking sunrises and sunsets in Tuscany. Whether you're walking within its ancient walls or strolling through its historic center, palazzos, and piazzas, or down the picturesque street of Via Ianelli with its medieval houses, this quintessential Tuscan hill town affords visitors a host of ancient sites to see, artisan shops to enjoy, and classic trattorias serving the best of Tuscany's gastronomic cuisine and wines to tantalize your taste buds: Making it the perfect destination to combine food, wine, and art.

Within its tiny frame, a Medici creation — the Girafalco Fortress — the Basilica di Santa Margherita and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio can be found. Its medieval stronghold lends to legendary origins dating back to biblical times, unique archaeological finds, and a host of impressive museums, according to Discover Tuscany. Plan on spending more than one day in the magical village of Cortona. While it may be small in stature, there's something to see and do on every corner.

Reaching the pearl of Tuscany

If you plan on visiting Cortona for one day or one week, it's easily accessible by train from Florence, Rome, and Arezzo. Should you choose to drive through the romantic, graveled, farm roads of the Tuscan countryside by car on your way to Cortona, once you arrive, plan on parking your car outside its medieval, fortressed walls in one of the many parking areas. Because the village is regulated as a Limited Traffic Zone, no vehicles are permitted within the town center, so be prepared to park and walk up the steep hill to the city, or grab an authorized car transfer or taxi to the historic center.

Just remember, whatever time of year you set off to beautiful Cortona, plan ahead and pack good footwear for walking its cobbled streets, up its steep inclines, and across its rough terrain, as well as packing appropriate clothing for the hot summers and cold winters Tuscany is known for. And, do yourself a favor, once you're there if you're a fan of "Under the Tuscan Sun" — having watched the film at least a hundred times like so many of us have — take a walk to the original Villa Bramasole as guided by Cortona Mia Tourism, you won't regret it for one moment.