CORTONA AND THE SURROUNDING AREA
The Rugapiana Vacanze Palace is situated in a strategic position where it is possible to reach in few minutes by car the most beautiful cities and towns of historical, cultural, and gastronomical interests in Tuscany and Umbria. Here we have listed information about some of these towns along with their distance in km from Cortona.
At 500 meters of the ancient Villa Bramasole, restored the famous writer American Elisabeth Frances Mayes. "Under the Tuscan sun", "Bella Tuscany" and "Beautiful Tuscany", are among his most famous books, become best sellers and unforgettable films.
Cortona - The town of Cortona stand high on a hill (650) and has a spectacular views of the Valdichiana, Lake Trasimeno and Mount Amiata. Originally, an Etruscan stronghold, Cortona was conquered by the Romans and Goths before becoming a free commune in the 12th century when it enjoyed a period of notable splendour. The centre of Cortona is Piazza della Repubblica. The nearby Palazzo Pretorio houses Cortona’s Etruscan Museum. The most important artifact is the famous bronze lamp which dates back to the V century B.C.
The Diocesan Museum opposite the cathedral contains the Annunciation by Beato Angelico and works by other major Tuscan artists, including Luca Signorelli, native of Cortona. Amongst Cortona’s most beautiful churches are the Gothic Church of S. Francesco and the Sanctuary of S. Margherita which contains the tomb of the saint dead in 1362. The Medici fortress affords the best views of town and countryside. In the north east of Cortona the visitor can tour the hermitage Eremo delle Celle, founded by S. Francesco in 1211.
Arezzo - (35 Km) The provincial capital in the region of Tuscany, Arezzo lies 80 Kms south of Florence and it dominates the beautiful valley in which Valtiberina, Valdichiana, Casentino and Valdarno valleys all join together. The higher part of the town, dating back to the middle ages, has a Cathedral, a Medici Fortress, aristocratic palaces and picturesque towers. The lower part is modern and constantly expanding. Arezzo was an important town during the Etruscan period, as shown by the two statues of the Chimaerz and Athene (now in the Archaeological Museum in Florence). It continued to be important under the Romans and was famous for its vases, beautiful ceramics with bas-relief decorations. The mayor things of interest to see are the Churc of Santa Maria that contain the Lorenzetti paintings and the Church of San Francesco with the frescoes of Piero della Francesca.
Montepulciano - (25 Km) The highest of the Tuscan hill towns, Montepulciano, offers stunning views and fine exemple of Renaissance architecture. Montepulciano is also know as the pearl of the 15th century where there are many famous buildings to see such as the Cathedral, the Loggia del Mercato, the Avignonese and Tarugi palaces and also the Bucelli Palace with burial urns and Etruscan and Latin inscriptions. Other places of interest include the Church of St Agnese, the patron of the town and the Civic Museum.
Siena - (60 Km) To the south west of Arezzo , edging throught the Chianti region, enter Siena and step back to the Middle Ages. Formed by the meeting of three hills on which Siena is built, the square is divided into nine sections , commemorating the council of nine who governed the town in the 13th century. Twice a year, in July and August the Sienese faithfully ricreate their medieval heritage in the Palio, a sumptuous pageant-cum-horse race around the campo.Important things to see are the Palazzo Pubblico, the museum and the Cathedral built in 1196.
Firenze - (105 Km)Florence is almost in the middle of the Italian peninsula, and it is one of the most important cities for art, architecture, culture, commerce and industry.
Florence began its rebirth after the decadence of the Barbaric ages and reached the highest splendour between the 11th and the 15th century, as a free city. Then came under the rule of the Medici Family , who later became the Grand Dukes of Tuscany, this in fact was when the city was at the height of its glory in art and culture, in politics and economic power.The Italian painting Cimabue and Giotto, the innovators of the Renaissance Brunelleschi and Donatello, the universal men like Leonardo and Michelangelo lived here.The Uffizi, the Buonarroti House with Michelangelo’s sculptures, the Academy, the Medici Chapel, the Baptistry with its mosaics, the Duomo and many other monuments to see.
Assisi - (70 Km) Assisi, the most enchanting and spiritual town in Umbria lies at the foot of the biggest hillside in Umbria, Mount Subasio. Founded by the Etruscans and later became part of the Roman empire,the town is the birthplace of Saint Francis (1182-1226), Patron Saint of Italy.
The main attraction of Assisi is Basilica of Saint Francis. It consists of two churches.. The lower one was built from 1230 –1253, the entrance to the basilica dates back the 5th century.Attached to the Basilica is the Franciscan monastery founded by Saint Francis in 1206. Another magnificent exemple of gothic architecture is the 13th century church of Santa Chiara where is painted the crucifix, which allegedly spoke to Saint Francis.
Perugia - (50 Km) The city of Perugia is divided into five quarters, each named after the original city gates: Sant’Angelo, Porta Sole, San Pietro, Eburnea e Santa Susanna.
Piazza IV novembre is the city’s main square here you will find the San Lorenzo Cathedral finished in 1430 and the Fontana Maggiore designed by Fra Bevignate.
Just opposite is the 13th century Palazzo dei Priori which still houses the municipal offices and the Galleria Nazionale dell’Umbria one of the central Italy’s biggest and best. The Collegio della Mercanzia in the Corso Vannucci side of the Palazzo dei Priori and in the same building is the Collegio del Cambio, the towns medieval money exchange, its walls superbly frescoed by Perugino.
At the southern end of Corso Vannucci are the small Giardini Carducci from where there are excellent views of the countryside. Underneath the gardens is a 16th century fortress Rocca Paolina: destroyed after Italian Unification, the ruins remain a symbol of defiance against oppression.
Gubbio - (80 Km) The Roman town of Gubbio has the most medieval appearance of the Northern Umbrian towns. It is famous for its local crafts and for its well preserved medieval traditions, includine the procession of Candles in May. The place to start a tour of the town is Piazza Quaranta Martiri, named after forty citizen shot by the nazis in 1944. The Duomo, 13th century building is an exception to the other churches of Gubbio with its simple Gothic interior. Others main things to see are the Plazzo Ducale, the Palazzo dei Consoli end the Roman Theatre, well preserved 1st century amphitheatre at the foot of the town.
Castiglione del Lago - (15 Km) The town of Castiglione del Lago rises on a promontory which once formed the fourth island of the Trasimeno Lake, the fourth largest lake in Italy. The area of Trasimeno is very pretty, there are boat trips in the summer to visit the three islands in the middle or to cross from one side to another. The best beaches are situated around Castiglione del Lago, nice Etruscan town, where the medieval circe of walls and the ancient castle are still well preserved.
Pienza - (50 Km) The medieval village of Pienza is to be regarded as a real monument as a whole in its orderliness and rationality and offers some incredible views of the Val d’Orcia as in a painting by the best Renaissance artists.
Particularly interesting are the Duomo, Palazzo Piccolomini and the Museo Diocesano, where works by Sodoma and a number of magnificent tapestries are collected. Pienza is famous all over the world for its production of sheep cheeses produced in the countryside of the Val d’Orcia with its ravines and its rolling hills, the so-called “Crete”, and seasoned in a variety of different flavours ranging from walnut leaves to “pecorino di fossa” seasoning.
Montalcino - (60 Km) Montalcino is perched on top of hill overlooking the Val d’Orcia, the Val d’Arbia and the Valle dell’Ombrone.
A town having atypical medieval layout, Montalcino offers its visitors the Palazzo Comunale, the Cathedral and the churches of S. Agostino, S. Egidio and S. Francesco. In the Archaeological Museum you may see a number of interesting prehistorical and Etruscan findings from the area whilst in the Museo Civico may see two terracottas by Andrea della Robbia. Montalcino, though, is, above all, the home to one of Italy’s and Tuscany’s most important wines: the Brunello di Montalcino: made from pure Sangiovese vines grown in the nearby hills this wine is one of the best expressions of a territory and a landcspae which are the very heart of Tuscany.