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Cortona - the ancient city

Cortona di Toscana






Centrally located, Cortona (pop. 30,000+) is about midway between Rome & Florence.  Going to Cortona by car is easy - it's convenient to both the A1 (Autostrada del Sole) and SS326 (Siena-Perugia Superstrada) - detailed directions from A1 below.  If you prefer taking the train, the Camucia (Diretto/Regionale trains) & Terontola (ES & IC fast trains) stations are just a few minutes away.  The central location and excellent transportation connections make Cortona a superb base for touring the rest of Tuscany and Umbria.

Cortona is one of Italy's oldest cities (said by Virgil to be the mother of Troy and the grandmother of Rome... e.g. "Dardano, son of Jove and Elettra, left Corito, city of Etruria, before he came to Troy" [Virgil's Aenid 3, 104]) and there are many stories regarding  its founding.  What is known is that Cortona was  a fortified city occupied by the Umbrians and became an Etruscan walled city sometime between 800 and 600 B.C.  You can see the history of the city reflected in the walls at spots such as the Porta Montanina and to the left of Porta Guelfa - at the base are large Etruscan slabs with repairs from the Roman era in the middle and smaller stones at the top dating to the Middle Ages.

For those with hiking or biking interests, there are numerous routes outside the city walls (especially near Le Celle [#563], Torreone [#561], Mt. S. Egidio [#50] & Bramasole) which have been laid out by the Club Alpino Italiano; these are denoted by red & white stripes along the trail with trail numbers also appearing periodically (see example at right). A map of these trails titled "Sentiero 50: dal Trasimeno alla Verna" is available at bookstores & many Tabacchi.

In recent years, Cortona has become well known to English speakers through the best-selling book (on the NY Times list of nonfiction) by Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun.  "Bella Tuscany" followed in April '99; "In Tuscany" arrived October 2000, the next in the sieries "Bringing Tuscan Home" arrived Oct. 2004 and the most recent "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" arrived March 2012

Cortona holds third place among Italian cities (after Venice & Positano) for weddings of foreigners. Cortona has recently improved the process for non-citizens to hold civil weddings. There is a fee of 500 € for use of the Town Hall by non-residents for their ceremony.

   Postal code:   52044 (AR)
   Phone prefix: +39 (0575)
POSTAGE               To UK/Cont.     To US
Postcard/Letter        0.60 €           0.85

Cortona -  beautiful city which graces the slope of Monte di
S. Egidio. 

Nestled amid olive groves & vineyards, it offers stunning views across the Val di Chiana


NEWS: New public swimming pool opened in the park.




Trail marker (Club Alpino Italia

How to get there

By car: From the A1 (either north- or southbound) take the Valdichiana exit. After you pay your toll, go through the roundabout (the correct exit from the roundabout should be opposite where you enter from the toolbooth) and follow directions toward Perugia which will place you on the Siena-Perugia Superstrada (direction Perugia). Continue on the Perugia Superstrada for 12.3 km to the Cortona/Camucia exit (don't take the earlier exit unless you want to stop by Farneta). In just under 3 km you'll see Cortona on the hill. Follow the signs to Cortona; about 7 km further you'll be at the city walls. For a road map of the area, click at right MAP and enter Cortona in the "City" box of the "Maps in Europe" section.

By air: Florence's Amerigo Vespucci [FLR], Perugia [PEG], and Pisa's Galileo Galilei [PSA] are the closest airports; Rome's Fiumicino [FCO], Milan's Malpensa [MXP], and Bologna [BLQ] airports are also convenient - e.g. there are fast shuttle trains from Fiumicino Aeroporto directly to both Roma Termini (8.80 €) and Roma Tiburtina (5.00 €) [Note: for many destinations, transferring at Roma Tiburtina (the eighth station from the airport) is faster and more convenient than Roma Termini]; the train ride to Cortona's Camucia or Terontola stations takes ca. 1-1/2 hours (click here for the link to train timetables); you can purchase tickets to your final destination at the train station in the airport. In Milan, take the direct shuttle bus from the Malpensa airport to the Milano Centrale train station if you are transferring to a train; if you are going to stay in downtown Milano instead of taking a train immediately to another city there's an express shuttle which goes to several of the metro (subway) stations. In Florence, take the direct shuttle bus from the airport to the Santa Maria Novella (Firenze S.M.N.) train station.

By train: On both the main north-south line between Firenze and Roma [see notes above for shuttle info. from airports] as well as the east-west line between Perugia and Siena. The IC (Intercity) train ride to Cortona's Terontola station takes ca. 1-1/2 hours from Roma; slightly longer for the Diretto or Regionale from Firenze to the Camucia station (click here for the link to train timetables). Take the S/4 LFI bus from the station to Cortona (be sure to buy tickets at the Tabacchi or Edicola [newstand] before boarding the bus). [Note: if 3 or more are travelling together, you can ask for "Mini-gruppo" rates which are 20-30% lower; however tickets are not refundable if you don't take the trip.]

Note: In most places, stamps and bus tickets can be purchased at the Tabacchi or Edicola. In Cortona, you can also purchase train and bus tickets at the Tourist office (A.P.T.) on via Nazionale. Ask for "quattro corse" - a ticket which can be stamped four times (once at each corner) and is discounted compared with purchasing individual tickets. Quattro corse are ca. € 3.45 for Cortona - Camucia/Terontola and ca. € 8.70 for Cortona-Arezzo. Also, when travelling by either train or bus, be certain your ticket is stamped (timbrato) in the machine on either the train platform before boarding or on the bus - there are hefty fines for travelling either without a ticket or with an invalid ticket (& your ticket isn't "valid" until it has been stamped). In larger cities - e.g. Firenze, Roma, & Venezia, you can obtain one- or multiple-day passes which are valid for all of the public transportation and are great bargains. Maps of the lines are available either free from the tourist office or (much better) from the edicola (newsstand) at the train station for a nominal fee.

Auto rental: The closest major rental car companies are in Arezzo; Avis is across from the train station - Piazza della Repubblica 1/A. Hertz & Europcar are located in suburbs; Europcar's address is Via Fiorentino, 101 (reachable via the 4/4a, 6/6a, or 13 lines from the Guido Monaco). There are also rental companies in Chiusi.

Taxi warning - you will be approached in most major train stations and airports by freelance drivers who are not licensed - AVOID THEM since they may not only rip you off with outrageous fares but can also be dangerous. A licensed taxi driver usually has a taxi sign on the vehicle (which is most typically white or gray) and must display their credentials inside the vehicle - if you have any doubts, ask them to show your their credentials (patente) before entering their vehicle. A licensed taxi driver will also not approach you inside a terminal or train station - they will be waiting at the authorized taxi stand outside the terminal or train station. And when you're taking the taxi to/from your hotel and the airport or train station, have the hotel arrange it for you if possible and ask them to write down the fare in advance to avoid a misunderstanding.

Euro conversion note: As of March 1, 2002 forward only the Euro is legal tender. (1 € = 1,936.27 Lit)

Tips for staying connected (e.g. phone, internet) while in Italy - click here.


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Florence / Firenze

Rome / Roma


- Current conditions & Short-Term Weather Forecast:

Florence / Firenze

Rome / Roma


View of Cortona
Overview of Cortona


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Ch. S. Margherita

S. Margherita
& Medici Fortress
(Fort open April-Sept. 10:00-18:00
[closed Mon], admission 3 €)

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