is a small but fascinating city in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany, central Italy, situated on a commanding hill, and overlooking
Trasimeno. Its cyclopean
walls reveal its Etruscan origins. It was one of the
twelve cities of
Etruria and in its vicinity many Etruscan
ruins and tombs
may be seen. Cortona sided against
Rome until 310 B.C. when Fabius Rullianus defeated the Etruscans and took
Perugia, with other cities, including Cortona, then made peace with Rome. Later
Cortona was destroyed by the Lombards but was soon rebuilt. In the 14 C,
it was governed by the Casali and afterwards became part of the
Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Many famous men were born or lived in Cortona, among them Brother Elias (Elia Coppi), the famous companion of St. Francis of Assisi, and later Vicar-General of the Franciscan Order; Cardinals Egidio Boni and Silvio Passerini; the painter Luca Signorelli; the architect and painter Pietro Berrettini (Pietro da Cortona). St. Margaret of Cortona
(1248-97) was born at Laviano (Alviano) in the Diocese of Chiusi, and
became the mistress of a nobleman of the vicinity. On discovering his body after he had met a violent death, she repented and, after a public penance, retired to Cortona, where she took the habit of a Tertiary of St. Francis and devoted her life to works of penance and charity. Leo X permitted her veneration at Cortona, and Urban VIII extended the privilege to the Franciscan Order. Benedict XIII
canonised her in 1728. Her body rests in a beautiful sarcophagus in the church dedicated to her at Cortona.
It is not known whether Cortona was an episcopal see previous to its destruction by the Lombards. From that time until 1325 it belonged to the Diocese of Arezzo. In that year, at the request of Guglielmo Casali, John XXII raised Cortona to episcopal rank, as a reward for the fidelity of its
remaining Ghibelline. The first bishop was Rainerio Ubertini. Other bishops were Luca Grazio, who was a distinguished member of the Council of Florence (1438); Matteo Concini (1560) and Gerolamo Gaddi (1562) were present at the Council of Trent. The cathedral and the other churches of Cortona possess numerous works of art, especially paintings of the school of
Luca Signorelli and of Fra
of Italy" DVD set
This DVD set has the full PBS TV mainly-aerial footage plus an additional hour of material.
Highly recommended to anyone who is thinking of going to Italy, or just
wants to relive the splendour of the Italian landscape.
for full details.
Off the beaten track -
visit the Farneta Abbey
between Cortona and Foiano