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Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

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Drammen
posts: 3
reviews: 1
Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

We're staying for 8 days just outside Cortona in May with our kids. We've visited Cortona before, so this time we want to spend a few days driving around the countryside visiting different towns.

We're looking for charming towns, great scenery and the other good things Tuscany has to offer.

What places would you visit, and why?

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
posts: 33,362
reviews: 22
1. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

There are dozens of possibilities. You might also consider some of the lovely towns in Umbria. You could even visit some towns in Le Marche, one of Italy's most beautiful and overlooked regions.

In Tuscany, Montepulciano, Pienza, Arezzo, and Sansepolcro are not far from Cortona. Arezzo is really a small city, rather than a small town, but you can see Piero della Francesca's great fresoc cycle in the church of San Francesco. There are other works by this great artist in Sansepolcro, which is a lovely Tuscan town that's off the tourist radar screen.

In Umbria, Todi, Assisi, Spoleto, Spello, and Gubbio are within easy driving distance. All are different and all are beautiful. You might be able to visit Assisi and Spello on the same day. Assisi has a lot to see, especially if you're a devotée of Saint Francis, or if you are an art lover, but Spello, a little jewel, can be seen in an hour or two.

In Le Marche, you could visit Urbino, a lovely Renaissance town on a hill in Le Marche, with one of Italy's most beautiful ducal palaces.It's worth driving up to the park above the town, to get a spectacular view of the palace. Camerino is another lovely Renaissance town in Le Marche, that gets hardly any tourists except Italians. Both are about a two-hour drive from Cortona, but with lovely scenery along the way.

Edited: 4:47 pm, January 18, 2013
Castellina in...
posts: 2,879
reviews: 8
2. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

This map indicates many of the main sights within reach of Cortona. The pins link to websites devoted to the individual sights. Depending on your interests and distance, there's huge choice: www.bella-toscana.com/map_of_tuscany.htm

Drammen
posts: 3
reviews: 1
3. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

I've thought of some different places to go:

We have 7 whole days.

-Volterra & San Gimignano

-Castellina in Chianti, Panzano, Greve/Radda in Chianti

-Perugia, Todi, Orvieto

-Siena

-Montepulciano & San Quirico d'Orcia

Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,588
reviews: 2
4. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

Volterra and San Gimignano are do-able but be prepared for a very long day out as they're a long drive away. Everything else works well but maybe add Assisi and nearby very pretty Spello and hopefully Montefalco in the same day. Todi is a wonderful town to visit and possible on the same day as Orvieto making a circular trip doing Todi first. If it were me, I'd skip Perugia and head to Spoleto instead, it's further but it's far more charming. Please add Pienza to your Montepulciano and San Quirico day, and it's great you're heading to the latter for so many people overlook it. There are numerous other very picturesque villages in this area, if you can, try and squeeze in Bagno Vignoni after San Quirico, it's only 10 mins further on and everyone who goes there loves it. Not so far from home, Chiusi Citta (plus the Etruscan museum as it's far, far better than the one in Cortona) followed by Cetona makes a nice day out with perhaps a stop at lovely Castiglione del Lago on the way there or back? Have lunch in Cetona for there are some excellent restaurants there, afternoon tea and ice cream in Castiglione. It's a very pretty town to stroll around with some good shops that are far cheaper than Cortona. Oh and don't forget next door Arezzo and Castiglion Fiorentino also, which so many people ignore, wrongly IMO.

Edited: 11:12 am, January 19, 2013
Montepulciano, Italy
posts: 3,588
reviews: 2
5. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

And if you don't want a long day out, just nip across the Val di Chiana to little Monte San Savino for a totally unspoilt, fortified medieval town and next door Lucignano for another. Every village in this area is worth a stop, few are on the tourist radar, they're all very charming.

Drammen
posts: 3
reviews: 1
6. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

Thank you for the feedback. I know Volterra and San Gimignano will take all day, but I really would like to see them....

Toscana
posts: 2
reviews: 3
7. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

I am an art historian and a tour guide here in Tuscany , I live in Arezzo and I definetly suggest you to see:

- Volterra, San Gimignano (1 full day)

- Arezzo (half day) or Arezzo, Monterchi, Anghiari and Sansepolcro to see the Piero della Francesca's Reinassance frescoes and paintings (full day)

-Montepulciano, Pienza and Montalcino and Nobile di Montepulciano wine tasting full day but it can reasonably be done also in a half day

_The Val d'Orcia Montalcino, San Quirico and the wonderful Sant'Antimo Abbey founded by Charle Magne where the monks sing gregorian chants five times a day.

-the Chianti region, Castellina, Panzano, Greve with a Chianti wine tasting (full day)

- Assisi, Spello, Gubbio (full day)

- a SPA day in Bagno Vignoni or Rapolano, in May would be so pleasant...

- Lake Trasimeno with Castiglion del Lago and one of the islands (you can take a ferry)

- Chiusi if you like the Etruscan civilization!!!

Le Marche, Italy
Destination Expert
for Rome, Marche
posts: 33,362
reviews: 22
8. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

Historians don't agree that the Abbey of Sant'Antimo was founded by Charlemagne. It's considered a legend.

Norwich, Norfolk, Uk
Destination Expert
for Tuscany
posts: 7,034
reviews: 51
9. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

Make sure you know all about the limited traffic zones (ZTLs) operated in these places before you drive to them.

Toscana
posts: 2
reviews: 3
10. Re: Staying in Cortona for 8 days - where should we visit?

It's a medieval legend however and not modern one, probably created by Ludovico the Pius Charle Magne's son and successor who made it an Imperial Abbey in 814. And this is documented.