Cortona, Italy was one of the very first hill towns we visited during my second week studying abroad here. I’ve been meaning to blog and write about each of the towns, but I have been busy being outdoors plein air painting! I get home after a long day of hiking and I am so tired that I’ve been taking naps in the afternoon and then going to the studio at 7-10 to work on my paintings at night! What a hard life! Haha. I wish this was my real life =( But reality awaits me in the next few weeks when I get back to New York and assume my position as a Designer/Marketing Manager.
Anyway, Cortona is a small but fascinating city in the province of Arezzo and its cyclopean walls reveal its Etruscan origins. The architecture is medieval with steep narrow streets as you can see from the photos I took below. What’s interesting is that there a few famous people that were born and lived in Cortona, among them was Brother Elias Coppi, the companion of St. Francis of Assisi. Also. Vicar-General of the Franciscan order- Cardinals Egidio Boni and Silvio Passerini. The painter Luca Signorelli and the architect and painter Pietro Berretini as well. I was bummed out that my plein air painting group didn’t have much time to explore the city since we had brought our painting equipment and easels, so we spent most of the day painting landscapes just outside of the city walls.
But here is a list of the main sights that we got from our school:
1) Via Jannelli – Medieval houses on a short street are some of the oldest that survive Italy.
2) Museo Diocesano – This museum contains a few masterpieces and among them are Fra Angelico’s Annunciation and a roman sarcophagus featuring lapiths and centaurs which was much admired by Donatello and Brunelleschi.
3) Duomo – The cathedral was designed by Giuliano da Sangallo in the 16th century.
4) Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca – Contains a number of major Etruscan artifacts, including a unique bronze chandelier dating from the 4th century B.C. and a number of Egyptian objects.
5) Palazzo Comunale – Built in the 13th century and enlarged in the 16th century to to incorporate the distinctive tower.
6) San Francesco Church – Built in 1245 Brother Elias native of Cortona who succeeded St. Francis as leader of the Franciscan Order.
7) Piazza Garibaldi – Located at the edge of town, it offers superb views of the landscape and of the beautiful Renaissance church of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinato.
8) Via Crucis and Santa Margherita – The Via Crucis is a long uphill lane with gardens on either side, leading to the 19th century church of Santa Margherita, was laid out as a war memorial in 1947.
9) Fortezza Medici del Girifalco – The fort was built by Gabrio Serbelloni, an excellent example of 16th century military architecture.