The Ultimate Guide To Cortona, Italy

All about Cortona, Italy's famous hilltop town in Tuscany.

The Ultimate Guide To Cortona, Italy
A charming home in Cortona, Italy.

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Cortona is a charming hilltop town in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany. Due to its position on a hill, it offers breathtaking views of the Val di Chiana Valley while still being central and accessible for exploring Tuscany.

What's Special About Cortona?

A narrow, winding street in Cortona, Italy.
A narrow, winding street in Cortona, Italy.

The ancient city of Cortona is over 2,000 years old, dating back to Etruscan and Roman times. Commonly known from the book and movie "Under the Tuscan Sun", Cortona is a classic Tuscan city with well-preserved medieval architecture, art, and cultural heritage.

Perched on a hilltop, the town offers stunning panoramic views of the Val di Chiana valley and Lake Trasimeno. These vistas, combined with the Tuscan landscape of rolling hills, olive groves, and vineyards, make Cortona a photographer’s paradise.

The city's culinary experience is as rich as its history. Cortona is a haven for foodies, offering traditional Tuscan cuisine and excellent wines, such as those from the nearby Tenimenti Luigi d'Alessandro winery.

Of all the Italian cities I've lived in or traveled through, Cortona is one of my favorites. Staying in this city feels like you've been brought back in time—before TikTok and 24/7 news channels monopolized our attention.

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Where is Cortona Located in Italy?

A screenshot of a map showing Cortona's position between Florence, Perugia, and Arezzo.
Cortona is located near Florence, Perugia, and Arezzo.

Cortona is located in Italy's Tuscany region, a short distance from the famous, mid-sized cities of Florence, Perugia, and Arezzo.

How to reach Cortona by train

The best train station for reaching Cortona, Italy is Camucia-Cortona, located in the valley. You can book your tickets here.

From Florence, it takes around 1.5 hours to reach Cortona by train and usually costs between €12-20.

From Rome, it takes around 2.5 hours to reach Cortona by train, and ticket prices vary depending on how far in advance you purchase and whether you select a high-speed train or an intercity option.

From Milan, it takes around 3.5 hours to reach Cortona by high-speed rail. I recommend purchasing tickets in advance to avoid paying super high prices (€120+) for the journey. Ticket prices for Italy's high-speed trains are variable, so purchasing in advance is the only way to secure a good price.

After arriving at Camucia-Cortona station, you can take the LS6 bus up to Cortona's city center. The ride is only 10 minutes, and you can track the bus using Google Maps. Alternatively, you can take a taxi or rent a car.

How to reach Cortona by plane

The nearest airports to Cortona, Italy are in Perugia (about 60 km/37 mi away) and Florence (about 120 km/75 mi away). Perugia is the closest airport to the city.

From the airport, you can take the train to the Camucia-Cortona station, or rent a car and drive to Cortona directly.

You can use WayAway to find affordable flights to Cortona and get cash back for every purchase:

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Things to do in Cortona

A colorful door in Cortona, Italy, complete with flower pots lining the street.
A colorful door in Cortona, Italy, complete with flower pots lining the street.

In addition to eating copious amounts of focaccia, you'll find that Cortona offers plenty of non-food-related activities as well.

🍷 Wine tasting

Cortona's location in Tuscany makes it a top-notch destination for wine tasting. Famous wineries near Cortona include Tenimenti Luigi d'Alessandro, Baracchi Winery, and Fabrizio Dionisio.

🛍️ Shopping

The city's local artisans are renowned for their handcrafted items, including textiles and ceramics. Pottery, linens, wine, and woodwork are some of the best items to buy in Cortona, Italy. Most shops can be found on Via Nazionale street, and some must-see shops in Cortona include the following:

  • Terrabuga - A beautiful pottery shop that sells local ceramics. This is a great place to find high-quality bowls, cups, vases, and gifts.
  • Bottega Dell'eretico - An excellent place to learn about local wines without feeling pressured to buy.
  • Casantonio L'Arte Di Scegliere- Known for its amazing linens.

🏛️ Museums and Tours

Cortona is home to several museums, with one of the most famous being the Diocesano Museum. Situated in the former church of Gesù, adjacent to the Cathedral of Cortona, this museum is easy to reach by foot.

Diocesano is known for its impressive collection of religious art, particularly from the Tuscan school. One of its highlights is the beautiful "Annunciation" by Fra Angelico, a masterpiece of Renaissance art.

Another popular museum in Cortona is the Etruscan Academy Museum, which houses an extensive collection of Etruscan artifacts, Roman remains, and Egyptian antiquities.

For those seeking a more active getaway, I recommend hiking up to the Fortezza del Girifalco to snag a panoramic view of the city.

🚶‍♀️Take a stroll

Every corner of Cortona looks like it came out of a movie set—or, as my Mom says, "like it came out of Harry Potter".

I highly recommend grabbing a gelato or a Spritz and taking an Italian stroll (una passeggiata) through the city's winding, cobblestone streets. The ancient details etched onto the city's walls, doors, and homes should not be missed.

Where to stay in Cortona, Italy

The lush backyard of my Cortona Airbnb.
The lush backyard of my Cortona Airbnb.

There are plenty of accommodation options in Cortona, but nearly all of them have one thing in common: No parking. The public parking lots in Cortona are located outside of the city center.

To reach your hotel, you'll need to haul your luggage up the city's famous hill. Pack lightly!

Here are three of the best hotels to try in Cortona, each offering its unique charm and comfort:

Monastero Di Cortona Hotel & Spa

5 stars
Monastero Di Cortona is a top-notch hotel located in an ancient monastery. Located within walking distance from the city center, this hotel features a roof garden, a private spa, and a mix of modern and historically-Italian amenities.

Hotel Villa Marsili

4 stars
Hotel Villa Marsili features original frescoes from the 14th century as well as an amazing breakfast complete with fruits, pastries, and Italian treats. The location is excellent, and the villa is adored for its elegant decor and architecture.

Hotel San Michele

4 stars
Hotel San Michele is located in the heart of Cortona and features stunning views of the old town while maintaining a modern Italian charm. Guests love the friendly, English-speaking staff, stylish interior, and breakfast options.

Cortona is one of Tuscany's most famous hilltop towns, and it deserves its crown. If you're seeking a slow, romantic escape from city life or a hectic work week, Cortona is the perfect place to relax, reset, and sample some oil olive in the sunshine.