Photo Essay on one of our favorite towns – Cortona, Italy

Cortona, Italy header

Cortona is one of our favorite Italian towns. It’s a small, quiet town situated on a commanding hill. There are great views in every direction. People may recognize the name of the town from the book ‘Under a Tuscan Sun’ (which was made into a movie) by Frances Mayes.

cortona mapAbove: Map of Cortona (image credit:

The main street, Via Nazionale, is the only flat street in town and where you see most of the tourists strolling about. At the end of the street is the most famous piazza in Cortona, the Piazza della Repubblica (photo at the top of this post). A short walk to the other end of Via Nazionale brings you to the lookout at Piazza Garibaldi. From there you can overlook the plains below and, further away, Lake Trasimene (photo below). It was there in 217 BC that Hannibal and the Carthaginians defeated the Romans in the Battle of Lake Trasimene in which close to 20,000 men died.

views of Lake Trasimene, Cortona, Italy
The rest of the town is almost straight uphill and full of great views and churches. Walk up Via Santucci, you’ll see the small church of San Francesco. Continue going up (the small street becomes Via Berrettini) and you’ll come across one church after another: San Niccolo, San Cristoforo, and the huge church of Santa Margherita.

Below: Church of San Francesco
Church of San Francesco, Cortona, Italy
Below: some of the views going up the hill.

views in Cortona, Italy

You might be pooped by then from the uphill climb – but continue on. At the very top of the hill you get to a grassy knoll where there is a fort with fantastic views of the countryside. This is Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco (photos below).

views from Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, Cortona, Italy (1)
views from Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, Cortona 2
views from Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, Cortona, Italy (2)
views from Fortezza Medicea di Girifalco, Cortona (1)


Everywhere you walk in Cortona there are churches, cobble-stoned streets, and buildings made of pietra serena (a type of limestone). And great views of the surrounding countryside. A few more photos of this beautiful town:

amazing views in Cortona, Italy

views in Cortona, Italy 1

Lots more on Cortona’s churches here.


Check out our Destination Guide on Italy for travel tips and highlights


Have you been to Cortona? What did you think of it?




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