Cortona -- just a passing thought

Jun 25th, 2017, 05:37 PM
  #1  
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Cortona -- just a passing thought

If I were to add Cortona to our trip to Italy this fall, can you give me a handful (3 or 4, maybe) ideas for daytrips from there? We'll have a car.

We've been to Florence, Sienna and Orvieto.

Thanks
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 25th, 2017, 06:17 PM
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I like the towns along the shore of Lake Trasimeno and the area immediately south of the lake (Panicale, Piegaro, San Fatucchio). You'll find some lovely cashmere and hand-made lace.

You'd certainly be close enough to visit Montepulciano, Pienza, San Quirico and Montalcino, although not all on the same day.

In the other direction, Perugia, Assisi, Gubbio, Deruta, Todi, but again not all on the same day.

For something completely different, you could visit Abbazia di Monte Oliveto Maggiore south of Asciano.

http://www.monteolivetomaggiore.it/lang1/
Jean is offline  
Jun 25th, 2017, 10:30 PM
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Chiusi is a lovely Etruscan hilltown with what it is arguably the best Etruscan museum in Italy, certainly the most user friendly, compact with excellent English information. Be sure to visit the lower level if you go & in general be sure to visit as much as you can of what's underground in Chiusi, a network of Etruscan tunnels that was the town water system. Chiusi's cathedral treasury also houses an important collection of illuminated manuscripts from the Monte Oliveto Abbey. It also has a well-regarded food market on Tuesday mornings.

http://www.borghiditoscana.net/en/chiusi-en/

https://www.borghimagazine.it/en/sc/...-porsenna.html

A remarkably under-touristed Tuscan town 30 minutes from Cortona is Lucignano, with its elliptical layout preserved intact. It has a Thursday morning local market. It makes a nice lunch or gelato destination if you need a break from other tourists

https://blogginginitaly.com/tag/tuscany/

http://www.fototoscana.it/mostra-gal...ucignano&l=eng

If when you were you in Siena you didn't take any scenic drives south of Siena, it's only 40 minutes from Cortona to the beautiful area of "le Crete Senese" around the towns of Trequanda, Petroio and the Abbey of Monte Oliveto Maggiore. Good restaurants in the nearby charming Buonconvento (again, few tourists but pilgrims and walkers who pass through).

Much of the most often photographed scenery is just south of there, along the road between Montalcino & Montepulciano. If you want to visit all the towns it takes days, but if you want to instead enjoy the scenery, you can do a lazy loop from Cortona>Trequanda>Buonconvento>Montalcino>Montepulciano>Cortona in a single day that includes a stop for a long lunch.
massimop is offline  
Jun 25th, 2017, 10:42 PM
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Here's some pointers for scenic drives that begin less than 40 minutes from Cortona

http://www.casinadirosa.it/southern-...enesi-tuscany/
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Jun 26th, 2017, 02:48 AM
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Wonderful -- just the sort of information I was seeking! Thank you so much!
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 26th, 2017, 12:02 PM
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I think almost all experts agree that the foremost museum of the Etruscan civilization is in the Villa Giulia in Rome. The museum in Tarquinia is also of great importance, as is the Etruscan collection at the Vatican Museums, which is spectacular, but which very few visitors to the Vatican Museums see.

I haven't seen the museum in Chiusi, but I can't imagine that it would be on the level of the Villa Giulia.
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Jun 26th, 2017, 12:11 PM
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We stayed in Cortona for a week on one of our trips to Tuscany. From there we day tripped to Pienza and Montepulciano, and also to Assisi in Umbria which isn't far as Cortona is the border of the two provinces. Also visited the pretty town of Monte del Lago on Lake Trasimeno for it's beautiful views and went to Arezzo to see the famous frescos in the cathedral.
Look for Le Celle, a small monastery built into the hill that Cortona sits on. Saint Francis lived there for a while and it is quite interesting to see, pretty setting too.
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Jun 26th, 2017, 12:54 PM
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Thanks again, everyone. HappyTrvlr, I'm looking at apartments in Cortona right now! Where did you stay when you were there?
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 26th, 2017, 08:09 PM
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Cortona was the absolute lowlight of my many trips to Umbria/Tuscany. I spent a total of about 10 weeks there between 2008 and 2012 and absolutely hated the place except for a couple of sunny days at the end of October when the hordes of American tourists were absent and it seemed a tad bit "authentic." I think Frances May may have idealized the place into tourist oblivion the same way Rick Steves has cauterized the rue Cler and the Cinque Terre.

I had a very fine time staying a good few kilometers away between Paciano and Panicale. and making trips up into the hilss to ancient spa towns. The Etruscan museum in Chiusi is a wonder, as are many of the towns around Lago Trasimeno. I could easily retrace my steps in that part of the world without ever stepping foot in Cortona again. It left a sour taste in my mouth. There are a thousand places in Italy I'd love to take my DH to visit now that we live here and can travel easily to visit them. Cortona is not on the list and never will be.
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Jun 26th, 2017, 11:40 PM
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I have to agree with St Cirq, it was my least favourite place in Tuscany. The town actually has an escalator to get to the main centre area. There are so many lovely places this would not be my choice of towns to stay in.
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Jun 27th, 2017, 04:07 AM
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Well, too late now, as I've just booked an apartment there. I'm not too worried. I know many people prefer to stay in the beautiful Tuscan countryside and I absolutely understand that, but I like to stay in town. I like a little hustle and bustle. Plus, let's face it, if I were worried about to many tourists, I would have never been to Venice, Rome, Florence, and most of the other places we've traveled. And we won't be in Cortona every minute of that week. As you can see from this thread, there a tons of day trips to be taken!

I can't really complain about other tourists, can I, when I'm one of them?
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 27th, 2017, 11:25 AM
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"The town actually has an escalator to get to the main centre area.:

Ermmmm -- this is actually a common feature of many historic hilltowns in Italy. They were built to make it easier for locals to continue living in these medieval towns, not as tourist amenities.

I am struggling to understand why someone would spend 10 weeks over the course of 4 years in a place they hated. I will also note tht St Cirq spends most of her time on Fodor's expressing hatred of sooooo many many things in life. (Me? I just hate her posts.)

I have only disovered two or three uncontroversial destinations in Italy that nobody hates visiting. They are Ravenna, the Dolomities, and the island of Ponza. Otherwise, the internet is filled with complaints about Venice, Assisi, Rome, Florence, Capri, Milan, le Cinque Terre, Lago di Como, Puglia -- and of course Cortona.

You won't know 'til you get there but if for some reason you don't like Cortona it is a snap to get to someplace else by train or car. You don't need to spend 10 weeks being sour about it.
frencharmoire is offline  
Jun 27th, 2017, 01:51 PM
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I believe Orvieto has a funicular. In fact, so does Quebec city. Doesn't bother me, plus we're staying 'upstairs' in town.
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 28th, 2017, 06:26 AM
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Goddess, I loved Cortona. It was one of my favorite hill towns, altho' I was there 16 years ago.

Altho' I'm a NY'er and prefer small, quiet places when I travel, I liked the liveliness of Cortona. Besides, as you said, there are plenty of day trips to be taken from there.

I'm going back to Taormina in September, another town that is heavily touristed and is hated by many Fodorites, but I've always loved it and I also plan to use it as a base, enjoy the spectacular views, and take a number of day trips from there.
panecott is offline  
Jun 28th, 2017, 09:00 AM
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Oh thank you so much, panecott! And I'm a NY'er in my heart.
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 29th, 2017, 08:16 AM
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I'm with StCirq on Cortona. We visited last week and thought thank goodness we didn't stay there. For me it had no buzz after 5.00pm. However each person has a different opinion, that's what makes travelling fun.
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Jun 29th, 2017, 10:20 AM
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I guess it depends on what you mean by 'buzz'. Montepulciano certainly didn't have 'buzz' after 5 p.m. but we loved it there. For one thing, we took several day trips that ended with dinner and the evening in a nearby town but even when we stayed in Montepulciano for the evening, we would dine at a local restaurant, go for gelato, take our passagiata along with the rest of the people who lived in town and were out on a summer night. It was magical. I'm not looking for nightclubs or discos.

And yes, I'm certain I've been to places that I didn't care for that some posters here just love.
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 29th, 2017, 10:25 AM
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It's not a funicular...it's an escalator. The restaurant owner we spoke with said it was built for the film crew.
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Jun 29th, 2017, 10:53 AM
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We didn't use the funicular in Orvieto so I don't know what it looks like but the one in Quebec City is essentially an escalator that takes a car (like a cable car) instead of individuals. It's in the centre of town and fairly unobtrusive, to me at least. I suspect our parking in Cortona will be at the bottom of the hill outside the gates so if I have the choice of taking an escalator up or walking up a hill (especially on check-in, with a suitcase), I sure don't mind having the escalator.

People's perceptions are funny. On whichever website I just looked at, one guy said 'it's the biggest eyesore in Tuscany' and another guy said 'with all the trees and greenery you can barely see it'. I guess I'll get to decide for myself.
goddesstogo is online now  
Jun 29th, 2017, 10:53 AM
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Great advice in many of the above posts. We spend 2-4 weeks every year in Montepulciano, about 40 minutes away via car.

We also love the Lago Trasimeno area. Relaxing, authentic, and very family-friendly which is important as we travel with our two young sons. Castiglione del Lago is charming, as is Panicale.

If you want to spend a day devoted to wine, you could begin with Vino Nobile in Montepulciano and meander west to Montalcino for Brunello. Lots to see on the way with Pienza and San Quirico. You could easily spend many days seeing this area, but I do think it's possible to have a very enjoyable long day and dip your toes into this part of Tuscany . If you love gardens, look into visiting La Foce if your trip coincides with their open hours.

Re: Cortona itself, echoing others, we haven't seemed to ever form a connection to it, even when we visited in early April when there were comparatively few tourists. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose. Since you'll have quite a bit of time there, you might want to look up the Urban Route of ancient Etruscan/Roman sites from the museum website. Makes for a fun little treasure hunt as you spend time in the town. The museum is excellent - one of the Etruscan tombs outside of town is open to the public, but you can arrange to see the other one through the museum. If you really get into Etruscan history, Chiusi would be a great option for a daytrip (arrange with the museum for entrance into some of the tombs outside of town). Sarteano would be a hike but also has a good (small) museum and a visitable necropolis outside of town. As others have mentioned, Tarquinia is excellent and much of the Maremma is peppered with Etruscan sites but it would be quite a long drive for a daytrip. Same with Volterra - good Etruscan museum but not the most practical for a daytrip. Arezzo is a wonderful small city and has a very good museum as well as a very lively vibe.

Happy trip planning!
Jill
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