Cortona, a small Tuscan town, is built on the slope of a hill
verdant with olive groves, vineyards and cypresses. The town
faces an enchanting landscape, the rich and immense Valdichiana,
limited on the horizon by easy hills and by the wide expanse
of the Lake Trasimeno. Cortona’s history is lost in the
mists of time. Cortona has been a medieval town, but before
that, it was a Roman town and an important Etrurian centre.
According to some ancient authors the Etrurian area was divided
into twelve towns and Cortona enjoyed a very good reputation
amongst them. Recent studies supply, with documents, a crescendo
of important testimonies alongside with the imposing walls,
more than a mile and half long, still standing in long segments.
Unfortunately there are not enough archaeological testimonies
left to aloow an exact dating of the planning structure of the
town. You will be able to see a number of VII-VI AD century
tumulus graves in the area of Camucia and near Sodo (I Meloni).
Recently Cortona has discovered a lot about its ancient history
thanks to the excavations of the tombs of the Melone II at Sodo
surprised with its stateliness and its impressive girth of about
160 meters. The structure, aside from a monumental cylindrical
drum, includes two tombs and a terrace-altar you can access climbing
an impressive stairway. The shutters at the foot of the stairway
are made out of two great carved blocks of stone, representing
the struggle between men and imaginary monsters. Great sculptural
elements run along the altar. An important and remarkable number
of jewels and furnishings was discovered in the Melone II Tomb
at Sodo; these are nowadays on display in the Museo dell’Accademia
Etrusca, in a special wing on the top floor of Palazzo Casali.
The findings, particularly the gold ones, stand out for their
special manufacturing technique. Buckles, pendants, rings, necklaces,
exhibited at the Museo dell’ Accademia Etrusca, contribute
to enrich the cultural and tourist offer of Cortona. The visitor
coming to town, besides the immediate contact with the artistic
and natural beauties, can really trace his way back to the beginning
of cultures, in the mysterious time of the Etruscans and can admire
the pictorial masterpieces of the Renaissance. The tourist can
visit, apart from the already mentioned Museo dell’Accademia
Etrusca, the Museo Diocesano, where excellent pieces of work by
Cortona-born Luca Signorelli are preserved and a wonderful «Annunciazione»
by Beato Angelico.
Moreover, the visitor can walk the paths of San Francesco d’Assisi,
discovering mystical places such as the Franciscan convent (convent
of Le Celle), and finally behold the mosaics of Gino Severini,
which enrich the road that leads from the town centre to the Sanctuary
of Santa Margherita.