Visit Cortona with Valentina Barabuffi

11 August 2023
Written by
Lucrezia Worthington

Ideas for a weekend
in the Tuscan countryside

Valentina Barabuffi, born under the Tuscan sun in the small town of Cortona, is an Italian writer, content creator and point of reference for all things beautiful in Italy. We have asked Valentina to share with us a few insider tips on the quaint town of Cortona, on the boarders between Tuscany and Umbria.

A must visit?
The two central squares, Piazza del Comune and Piazza Signorelli, are the beating heart of the village where the locals meet for a chat, shop or relax whilst reading the newspapers sat at their favourite café. After ascending and descending through picturesque alleys and breathtaking views, I recommend a visit to the Etruscan Museum (MAEC) located in Palazzo Casali. You can admire the numerous finds of the ancient Etruscan civilisation that tell the story of Cortona. One of the most beautiful pieces is undoubtedly the bronze chandelier dating back to the 5th century. Also, not to miss are the famous Franciscan hermitage “Le Celle”, the Basilica of Santa Margherita da Cortona and the Girifalco Fortress.

A stolen secret?
Cortona is a land of ancient legends, also mentioned in the Aeneid by Virgil. When I was little, my grandfather taught me a famous saying  “Cortona, mother of Troy and grandmother of Rome”. Legend has it that Dardano, a brave Etruscan warrior, left Cortona to found the ancient city of Troy, from which, after the famous war, Aeneas fled to found Rome.

An unmissable excursion?
Drive the car among the surrounding countryside. Just like Frances Mayes suggested in the book “Under the Tuscan Sun”, which later became a famous Walt Disney movie that celebrates the beauty of this land. Visit the small Umbrian villages on the border with Tuscany: Castiglion del Lago, Monte del Lago and Passignano sul Trasimeno.

The best moment of the day?
At sunset, enjoy the last rays of the sun that gently filter into the alleys of the village and paint the ancient buildings in golden hues.

A special experience?
For photography enthusiasts, Cortona On the move is a must. An international festival of contemporary photography that takes place every year from July to October. The exhibitions are held within antique buildings spread throughout the historic center that are otherwise closed to the public. WEBSITE

The essence of Cortona?
The styles and atmospheres of a past rich in history are found in the architecture and life of the village. The city center is characterised by narrow alleys, squares arranged on several levels, elegant Renaissance Palazzi, churches and sanctuaries. Via Nazionale, called by the inhabitants “Rugapiana” (as it is flat compared to the other steep alleys) is the main road of the village and is animated by many cafés and small artisan shops. Already from the 16th century it was considered the aristocratic living room of the city. Dotted around the alleys and squares you will find many typical Tuscan trattorias, taverns and restaurants.

An unforgettable dish?
An unforgettable gourmet experience at the Michelin Starred restaurant “Il Falconiere”, where Silvia Baracchi, Chef and owner of the beautiful estate, will be able to delight you with her dishes that combine local tradition, research and creativity in a perfect mix. WEBSITE

The most beautiful landscape?
Lounging on the sofas in the large garden of Villa di Piazzano, where you can enjoy an extraordinary sunset with a view of the Cortona hill, sipping a good glass of Syrah.

The souvenir?
The most representative object of Cortona is the famous “cocci” or ceramics from Cortona that range from tableware to homeware and feature a faint yellow background adorned with a green and brown flower. You can find them at Antico Cocciaio, who has been making these ceramic pieces entirely by hand for 5 generations.

must drink?
A good glass of Syrah. My favourite is Il Castagno by Az. Agricola Dionisio.

What to pack for the weekend?
Camera and comfortable shoes for going up and down the streets of Corona.

Why Cortona?
Perhaps for its natural beauty, Chianina steak or for the welcoming nature of the locals, Cortona certainly knows how to make you fall in love.

Stay up to date. Sign up to our newsletter