Sagra della Bistecca
On August 15th (the Assumption) Cortona becomes a carnivores paradise in which huge barbeque pits are fired up and roast Tuscan T-bones from morning to night. Really a lot of fun and an event in which tourist mixes with local. Don't miss it!
The Town that Frances Mayes Built
I have always loves Cortona. It is a magical Tuscan hilltown, located 110 Km southeast of Florence very close to the border with Umbria and Lago Trasimeno. Of all the 'hilltowns' I have visited I find it to be the warmest, both in terms of the physical place (buildings, colours and atmosphere), but also the people. I don't feel that this is just because I have spent a lot of time here and also have many friends either.
One thing about Cortona, it has one level street, Via Nazionale (the main thouroughfare) which is a pedestrian street ( as are the majority) where the daily and nightly passegiata occurs. All the other streets are either up or down, some of the older ones are essentially stair-like with very short steps.
The funniest thing is the 15th century hospital at which if you come by car you park on a 90 degree angle, note the stones under the rear wheels of the cars to prevent slippage. Another point I should bring out, NOBODY DRIVES A TRUCK OR SUV - being vertically challenged sits well with them.
"Under the Tuscan Sun and all that Jazz"
Yes, Cortona is where the book(s) and now film version of Under the Tuscan Sun was set. I don't know anyone who has ever met her (the author) who still has her home there, but most people feel a bit ambivalent about the whole thing. It has effected tourism to Cortona, however I don't like thetricke down effects.
I have very mixed feeling about the book and the film version is terrible. Can you believe they erected a fake fountain 'to make the town more Italian and quaint' with a statue of Neptune - who happened to have an anormous member, well the local monsignor and several local citizens saw to it that Neptune got circumsized.
La Vita e Bella (Life is Beautiful) was also partially filmed here - the scenes at the opera (that is the local cinema, Teatro Signorelli).