November 2014pool_and_house

CORTONA, Tuscany, and the choice of rental homes…

We have a selection of rental villas to suit all tastes and requirements in and around Cortona. For example there is a delightful Tuscan villa in the hills nearby called Giusi & Dario’s (sleeps 6) where you can taste the same food that Frances Mayes (writer of ‘Under the Tuscan Sun‘) serves at Villa Bramasole, inspired by ‘Giusi’, her Italian friend and culinary mentor, who owns and manages this tastefully decorated villa. Then for a larger family party, or carefree group of singles, the ideal solution is our dignified old Cortonese farmhouse called La Certosa (sleeps up to 8) which is within walking distance of Cortona itself. This villa has a large pool with breathtaking panoramic views of the Valdichiana. Or if you don’t have a car and prefer to stay in town, but want to enjoy inspiring views and eat “al fresco” on a panoramic terrace overlooking the Cortona rooftops, how about Pancrazi (sleeps 4), our bright and spacious townhouse just 2 minutes’ walk from the shops and restaurants in the centre if town.

Why you’re coming to CORTONA…

The well-equipped and comfortably furnished Tuscan farmhouses, cottages and apartments listed on this site are a perfect base for visiting the art and architecture of Tuscany and Umbria. Located in the peaceful countryside close by, or in the historic centre of Cortona itself, our villas all have inspiring views of the surrounding hills and valleys. Whether you come in search of music and art treasures, to celebrate a special anniversary or simply to enjoy good Tuscan food and a relaxing vacation, you are sure to find what you are looking for. From the day of your arrival, a local English-speaking caretaker will be available to answer your questions and make you feel at home in the villa of your choice.

Where CORTONA is and what to visit nearby…

As a lover of Tuscany, you may have heard about or even visited Cortona and thus will have no further need of introduction to the joys of this area. But if you are unfamiliar with the region, you are in for a pleasant surprise. The ancient citadel, with Etruscan origins dating back to 700 BC, sits on a hilltop 1600 feet above sea level, about 9 miles north-east of Lake Trasimeno, 65 miles south-east of Florence and 120 miles north of Rome. Much-praised by Dante Alighieri, and more recently Frances Mayes in her best-selling diary “Under The Tuscan Sun”, the view facing west from Cortona’s ramparts is one of the most spectacular in Europe. The immense Chiana valley stretches out before you as far as the eye can see, to the hills of Siena 40 miles away and on to the slopes of Mont’Amiata, an extinct volcano further south.

You can also see the western tip of Lake Trasimeno, the largest lake in central Italy, where Hannibal defeated an entire Roman legion in 217 BC. And in the center of the valley – 15 miles away – stands proud Montepulciano, another of Tuscany’s jewels, noted for its delicious “Vino Nobile” wines.

Further north lies the provincial capital of Arezzo which houses, in the Church of San Francesco, the exceptional murals of Piero della Francesca, depicting the horrors of the Battle of Anghiari and the Legend of the True Cross.

Though you can’t see it from Cortona, the ancient Umbrian capital of Perugia is just a 30-minute drive away, motoring along the shores of Lake Trasimeno, while a few miles further on, sits glorious Assisi with its atmospheric Basilica of Saint Francis and the magnificent Giotto chapel above, painstakingly restored to original splendour after the earthquake damage of 1997.

In fact, within a radius of just 80 miles of Cortona lies 20% of the world’s greatest art treasures! Just consider Florence, an 80-minute drive away, Siena 60 minutes’ drive to the west, Spoleto and Todi, 90 minutes away respectively, Orvieto, 75 minutes to the south, or Urbino, 2½ hours east.

The town of Cortona itself has so many qualities and attractions, sporting well-stocked shops selling locally produced delicatessen and wines, handmade ceramics, textiles, antique Italian furniture and objets d’arts, designer clothes and jewellery. Above all, it offers an extensive range of inviting bars, restaurants and trattorias where you can taste great local cooking and excellent regional wines. During the summer months the town puts on a series of open-air concerts, opera and chamber music ensembles, theatrical productions and various popular entertainment events in Piazza Signorelli.

Cortona also boasts one of the earliest convents founded (in 1211) by Saint Francis of Assisi, hidden in an enchanting gorge nearby. It also has some beautiful churches, such as “Madonna del Calcinaio”, designed and built by Francesco di Giorgio Martini (1485) and a distinguished art gallery, il Museo Diocesano, housing works by Fra Angelico, Piero della Francesca and his pupil Luca Signorelli, a native of Cortona. And finally, at the top of the hill, you can visit the beloved Patron Saint of Cortona, Saint Margaret, 800 years old to the day, her minute body perfectly preserved and visible in a sealed glass case behind the altar of the sanctuary of Santa Margherita. Maybe she simply awaits the kiss of her secret mediaeval lover, Arsenio Del Monte, a nobleman of Montepulciano, to bring her back to life !

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