According to Virgil the city was founded by legendary Dardano, Cortona was probably a fortified center of the Umbri before passing on to the Etruscans between the VIII and the VII century a.c. who made it into a Lucumonia (realm).
Built on mount Sant Egidio, this ancient city is surrounded by ponderous walls still showing the original Etruscan gates letting into the citadel. The panorama from the tom of the town is one of the most harmonic in Italy, spanning the whole Val di Chiana, with the Sienese mountains on one side and Lake Trasimeno on the other.
The Etruscan tombs discovered in the surrounding countryside are numerous. The best known of which are the Molone di Camucia, Tenella di Pitagora and il Sodo. Most of the artifacts discovered in these archeological sites such as the Tabula Cortonensis (II sec. B.C.) and the well known oil burning chandelier (V sec. B.C.) of the fifth century BC are conserved in the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca della Città di Cortona (MAEC) in Palazzo Casali.
At the top of the hill of fortress of Girifalco overlooks the valley and just below it the visitors can find the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita, patron of Cortona. Steep flagstone paths and streets wind their way down from the church into the city. The city holds many medieval and renaissance architectural treasures. Splendid are many churches, from the Roman Gothic of Sant’Agostino and San Francesco to the renaissance jewels of Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio and Santa Maria Nuova.
Cortona has been the home to many important artists of the past and present, including Luca Signorelli and Pietro Berrettini, know as Pietro of Cortona, and one of the founders of the Futurist movements, Gino Severini.
City of art at 360 degrees, Cortona boasts an impressive art collection showcased in the Diocesano Museum, including the outstanding “Annunciation” by Frà Angelico dated back to 1430.
Today Cortona host the international photography exhibition Cortona on the Move, which every year since 2010 attracts some of the most renowned photographers in the world.
Another point of excellence is the strategic position of Cortona which is within easy reach of the all the top destinations of Tuscany and Umbria, like Siena, Montepulciano, Montalcino, Perugia, Assisi and many more, all within a 1h reach.