ARRIVAL INFORMATION

PASSPORTS & CREDIT CARDS

Make photocopies of your passports and credit cards and keep them apart from the originals in the event that either is lost or stolen. It is a good idea to leave copies at home with someone as well.

ATM MACHINES

ATM machines are all over Europe including airports and train stations. We find this is the best way to change money these days. You can get euros immediately upon your arrival at the airport. We advise that you bring 2 credit cards if possible, in case you have problems with one. There are several ATM machines in Cortona.

PICKPOCKETS

Cortona is very safe. However, watch your valuables like you would anywhere. In major Italian cities, be very aware of your purse/wallet while touring, in train stations or crowded places. If people offer to help you with your bags at the train station, be extremely careful, this is a common scam to take your purse. The thieves work in pairs while you are being distracted with your luggage.

CELL PHONES

Please contact your phone service provider before leaving for Europe to activate your smartphone with a temporary international plan that will allow you to text and make calls while abroad. Your phone will not operate otherwise. This is especially important for flight delays, train delays, etc. while travelling.

ELECTRICAL REQUIREMENTS

Italy operates on a 220 voltage system. You will need to get Italian plug adapters for items like computer, camera and phone chargers. You will need to get a voltage converter for items like hair dryers, hair curling and straightening irons, electric shavers, etc. A good site for obtaining plug adaptors and voltage converters is amazon.com. We recommend this article for more information.

Directions to Cortona

DIRECTIONS TO CORTONA

BY CAR

Exit the A! autostrada at Vadichiana -Bettole, follow the signs for Perugia, and continue on the highway until the Castiglione del Lago exit. At the exit, continue to the right for about 1 kilometer, then you will enter the small town of Terontola, the first road on the left in the direction of the train station is Via XX Settembre.  Turn left on Via XX Settembre, the travel agency, Together in Tuscany is on your right hand side, #26,  halfway down the road before the street ends at the train station. You will be met by our colleague, Denys Perathoner, travelcortona@gmail.com, who will greet you, facilitate your check in, and give you keys.  She will accompany you up to Cortona to your “home” and show you where to park your car.

BY TRAIN

From Florence or Rome, exit the train at the Terontola-Cortona stop. Exit through the main doors of the train station and walk straight ahead. This road is Via XX Settembre.  Walk about 20 meters up this road and the agency, Together in Tuscany and Umbria, is on your left hand side. #26. Denys will arrange a taxi for you from the office up to the property in Cortona where you will be staying. The cost of the taxi is about 20 euro. We also can offer you taxi service from Rome or Florence, to Cortona. Please email us for rates.

TAXI SERVICE

There are only a few taxis in Cortona and need to be reserved in advance. Please ask Denyse, travelcortona@gmail.com, for taxi phone numbers or you can have her arrange one for you. She can also arrange taxi service from Rome or Florence airport to Cortona. Please email her or us for pricing.

Getting Around Cortona

GETTING AROUND CORTONA

CAR RENTAL

Many people ask whether it is recommended to rent a car in Cortona. If you are planning to visit neighboring hill towns during your week in Cortona, then YES, rent a car! It is quite time consuming to take buses and trains around to hill towns. The only day trip we recommend taking the train for is to Florence.
If you plan to stay put during your week in Cortona, you do not need to have a car at all. Everything you need can be found in town.

If you plan to rent a car, there are a multitude of car rental companies to choose from. You may organize your own car rental from the airport. Should you decide to rent a car from a national car rental agency at the airport, we encourage you to get a vehicle that is small and can navigate through narrow, cobblestone streets of Tuscany’s medieval hilltowns.
Our team at Together in Tuscany offers the option of renting cars locally in Cortona for as few as one day to the entire week.
www.togethertuscany.com

PARKING IN CORTONA

There is limited traffic within the town of Cortona and only residential vehicles are allowed to park within the city walls. There are several free public parking lots outside the town walls and are about a 10-minute walk uphill or downhill from the center of town.

INTERNATIONAL DRIVER’S PERMIT

It is required to have an international driving permit in Italy along with your driver’s license from your home state. For more information, see below:
http://businesstravel.about.com/od/internationaltravel/a/Do-You-Need-An-International-Drivers-Permit-For-Italy.htm

ITALIAN TRAINS

The website for train schedules in Italy is: http://www.trenitalia.com/tcom-en
Select the town you are departing from, the date, the approximate time of day you will be traveling, and your destination town. For Cortona, your destination town is Terontola-Cortona.

VALIDATION OF TRAIN TICKETS

Validating your train ticket is essential to train travel. You must stamp your train tickets in the validation machines located within any Italian train station or on the platforms themselves. Insert train tickets of all passengers one at a time into the validation slot and it will automatically stamp your ticket. The conductor will typically pass by at some point during your trip and ask to see your ticket. If the ticket is NOT stamped, the fines are very expensive. Please validate your tickets before boarding trains.

Things To Do

THINGS TO DO

PIAZZA REPUBBLICA

The Piazza Repubblica is the heartbeat of the town as are most piazzas (central squares) in Italy. This is traditionally where people gather to talk, connect, do business, etc. Cortona’s piazza is particularly wonderful in that it has the stone steps leading up to the Commune town hall, and is a gathering place for people to sit, eat, people watch and just hang out. The piazza changes flavor throughout the day, starting early in the morning when only grocery trucks are making deliveries to Molesini Market. Mid-morning is when people start their day by buying food and doing their errands. Noon time is very busy with people socializing and getting ready to be somewhere for lunch. At 1-1:30pm, everyone vanishes and rarely is a soul to be found, except for the tourists. Italians are at home eating lunch, or pranzo. Businesses and shops reopen from 4-5pm and stay open until 7:30. Cafes, which are always called bars, are open throughout this midday closing, as are restaurants. Restaurants open between 12:30-1pm, close between 3-4pm, and reopen around 7:30pm. The evening stroll, or passeggiata, takes place from about 5-8pm where Italians stroll along Via Nazionale, congregate in the Piazza and do their business. The passeggiata is an ancient and important tradition in Italian culture and you will find it in every Italian town. By 8pm, the town clears out and people are at home or eating at restaurants. In the summertime or weekends, the town fills up again with people after the dinner hour, past 9pm. This is an excellent people watching time.

THEATRE

Teatro Signorelli . Piazza Signorelli

Be sure to go even if there’s no performance going on, go to the back and take a peek at the theatre. It’s one of the old opera box seats, built around the turn of the century, and is a treat to see. If you can see a movie or performance here, even better! Movies are shown in the summer time at night at the old roman amphitheatre in the park.

THE CEMETERY

Cortona’s walled in cemetery below the town is a beautiful and fascinating place to visit. The main gate at the wall will be closed in the evening but simply walk over the low wall to the left of the main entrance gates and you can go in.
To get to the cemetery on foot, start at Piazza Republica, walk down the hill on Via Roma which is the street leading out of the Piazza to the left of the main clock tower stairs. Come to the exit arch of the city walls. Walk directly across the street and take the furthest tree-lined street to the left going down a steep hill. You will see the cemetery to your left in a few hundred yards. Continue down this road which will arrive at the cemetery entrance. Explore to your heart’s content – there are no areas off limits!

THE PARK (IL PARTERRE)

A beautiful park, Il Parterre, stretches along the hillside of Cortona. To reach it, simply head down via Nazionale until you reach the parking lot. Keep going straight 100, or so, meters. There you will see the entrance.
Located past the park is the “Under the Tuscan Sun” House, (Bramasole, home of Frances Mayes). To see this famous house, continue on thru the park until the end, where you come to a road that continues on around the mountain, walk up this road about 1/4 to 1/2 mile and it will be the big pink stucco home on your left with the palm tree out front – you can’t miss it!

WALKS

The neighborhoods above the Cortona downtown area are some of the best places to explore in Cortona, with amazing views of the valley. Just keep going up and look in all the nooks, crannies and alleyways. Don’t miss the church of Santa Margarita, the main church at the very top of Cortona. Consult your map on the various ways to get there, but if you just keep walking up, you will find it. The actual body of the patron saint of Cortona, Santa Margherita, is in the church at the altar in a glass case. It is a beautiful church and not be missed. The stone fort up above the church is the Medici Fortezza, one of the many Medici fortresses that were built in the Renaissance. There are often art exhibits at the fort, and it is also a fun place to go for great views as it is the highest point in Cortona.

SWIMMING POOL

Cortona has a wonderful swimming pool. Each year it seems to undergo a change in management, so be sure to check in town if it is up and running for the summer. Open from mid-June till mid-Sept, it is a beautiful pool and sits atop the mountain with a view of the hills. It also has a bar/restaurant and is a great place to spend the afternoon in the heat. It is best reached on foot. Walk through the park until the end, and at the tennis courts you will see the sign: “PISCINA” (swimming pool) that will point you up the hill and to the left.

LAKE TRASIMENO

This is the lake you see from our terrace. It is lovely and a 10 minute drive from Cortona. Drive down the hill to Camucia, take a sharp switchback left turn at the stop light at the bottom of the hill. Head out of town on the main road towards Perugia. You will come to an entrance in about 5 minutes to the superstrata highway, go in the direction of Perugia. The first exit or so is called Tuoro and has a nice swimming beach. You can also take the ferry over to Isola Maggiore, a fun trip, Lago Trasimeno’s largest island with restaurants and a lovely hike. The other nice place to visit on the lake is the town of Castiglione Del Lago. Check your maps, but I think it may be the first exit off the same superstrata you take towards Perugia. This is a charming town for a picnic or wandering on a nice day. There is a castle open to the public.

Shopping

SHOPPING

Tabaccheria Del Corso / Il Pozzo . via Nazionale 12 . 0575.603730

This should be your first stop in Cortona! Ivan Botanici owns and operates this tabaccheria and the art gallery below, Il Pozzo. The tabaccheria sells bus tickets, candy, cigarettes, and assorted gift items. You can enter Il Pozzo thru the tabaccheria or outside to the right, there is a separate alley entrance. Ivan has completely excavated this space several ago by himself. It is an excavated well in a 11th century courtyard. He has transformed it into an art gallery that features the works of local artisans, some of which include leather bound books, watercolors, photographs, handmade papers and writing materials. It is an exquisite shop and well worth the visit. Ivan is quite personable, speaks excellent English and is happy to assist you. He is a great resource and a good person to know during your stay.

Terrabruga Ceramica . via Nazionale 54 . 0575.604405

Antonella & Giulio Lucarini are our adopted Cortenese family here. The entire shop is filled with wonderful traditional Cortenese cream and green ceramics, which Giulio handcrafts himself. They can also ship your purchases to America.

I Rocchi Cashmere . via Nazionale 79 . tel: 0575/62622

I Rocchi Cashmere was founded over 30 years ago and is an Italian company committed to producing high quality cashmere garments made in the Umbrian region of Italy. I Rocchi works with top designers and weavers to create the best quality cashmere in the area. This shop is a delight, no bigger than a walk in closet, but packed with delicious cashmere scarves and sweaters, at very affordable prices. Annamaria, the manager, is gracious and lovely to work with.

Falegnameria Rossi . via Guelfa 28 . tel: 0575.62745

Beautiful artisan wood carving gallery owned by Gian Carlo Rossi and his parents, Umberto and Dee. All the items in the shop are handcrafted by the Rossi family. The craftsmanship and quality is exquisite, as is the shop. Gian Carlo speaks perfect English and is a long time family friend. Be sure to mention our names.

Antonio Massarutto . via Nazionale 67 . tel: 0575.62837

This artful and contemporary jewelry store is owned by Antonio and Sara Massarutto. Antonio is a jeweler, sculptor, furniture designer – a man of extraordinary creative talent. He turned his artistic passion into making jewelry after training with master goldsmiths in Arezzo, Italy’s jewelry capital. The atmosphere of the shop is high design, unique, and cutting edge. Antonio’s jewelry is original and very affordable.

Marri Cortona . via Nazionale, 36 . tel: 0575.631108

This store is run by Antonella Marri a lovely woman who comes from a long line of antiquariato (antique dealers). She owned and operated the family antique business and retail store for over 20 years antique store until 2 years ago, at which point she decided to reinvent her store and began carrying contemporary home furnishings. She travels to gift shows in Paris each year to bring new and unusual items to her shop. Her shop is very elegant and of a particular style, yet is also quite affordable. Antonella is a pleasure and her shop is a treasure trove of wonderful objects.

Maledetti Toscani . Piazza della Repubblica, 8/9 . tel: 0575.613788

Exquisite leather goods, locally made in Tuscany. Two showrooms located right on the main Piazza Repubblica.

Food and Drink

EATING & DRINKING

FOOD & WINE

Food stores in Italy are often closed on Sundays and sometimes Wednesday afternoons. In Cortona, they are open on Sunday mornings after Easter.

Molesini Market & Enoteca Molesini . Piazza Republica 22/23

Main grocery store in town, you will find most everything here. Enoteca Molesini across the Piazza from the Market has an excellent selection of wine and spirits.

La Bottega dell’Eretico. via Benedetti 15

Gabriela runs this charming small wine cavern, where she will do personalized tasting for you. A delightful experience and excellent wine.

Frutta e Vedura . Piazza Repubblica 24

This is a wonderful produce shop, with the great fruits and vegetables. Roberto, Nunziatina and their son Marco run the shop and are lovely people. Please tell them we sent you.

Fruttissima . via Nazionale 49

Alessandro, the owner, is darling and the produce is excellent.

Macelleria Cipollini . via Benedetti 16

The best meat in town is at the first butcher shop on your right up from Piazza Republica.

Saturday Market

Every Saturday there is an open air market in Piazza Signorelli where you will find food, clothing, household goods, fabric, toys and candy.

PRANZO (LUNCH)

Everything in Italy closes at 1pm for lunch, and doesn’t reopen until 3:30 or 4pm. Bars and restaurants are the only establishments open, so it’s a good time to eat and relax the way Italians do!

BARS & RESTAURANTS

It is best to make a reservation for restaurants on Friday and Saturday evenings, as they get very crowded.

Bar Tuscher . via Nazionale 43 . tel: 0575.62053 . Closed Mondays

Massimo and Daniela Olivieri are the owners of this beautiful bar/cafe. We often go there for our morning coffee and pastry, pre-dinner cocktail aperitivo, or an after dinner drink. In the summertime there are tables outside and our favorite specialty drink in the warm months is their iced coffee, Shakerato Cappuccino. They serve wonderful lunches as well.

Locanda Al Pozzo Antico . Via Ghini, 14 . tel: 0575.62091 .

Owner: Paola Barboni  This is one of our favorite restaurants. The owner Paola is a dear friend will treat you well. The food is wonderful and the atmosphere is lovely.

Osteria Del Teatro . Via Maffei 2 . tel: 0575.630556

Emiliano and Ylenia own and operate this elegant, fine dining establishment. The decor is stunning and the food is world renowned. Their extensive wine selection is first class.

Pasticceria Banchelli . via Nazionale 11 . tel: 0575.601052

Wonderful baked goods, all made at their local bakery close by.

Trattoria Tacconi . via Dardano 46 . tel: 0575.603588

Our absolute personal favorite!!! Only open for lunch, closed Mondays. It is a true family run trattoria. Angelo is your waiter. His wife, Graziella and his daughter, Titziana, do all the cooking. The place has about 6 tables so arrive early, before 1pm. Angelo will tell you what there is to eat that day. There are four basic pastas, all fabulous, and the bistecca is Florentine steak cooked over the fire and is out of this world. Everything is great, basic, and you won’t find a more authentic Tuscan place. Make sure you mention you are “ospiti di Stacey and Rob.” They speak no English, but you’ll get the gist.

Cortona Bistrot . via S. Margherita 13 . tel: 0575.62957

Davide and Anita, who come from an interior design background, have a created an eclectic, warm and inviting restaurant. The food is a modern interpretation of classic Tuscan cuisine and the wines are excellent.

Trattoria La Grotta . Piazza Baldelli, 3

One of the best restaurants in Cortona. All their pastas are homemade, great food. Open for lunch and dinner.

Pizza E Focacce . Via Benedetti 5 . tel: 0575.631062 . Closed Tuesdays

Best pizza by the slice in town!! The pizza is heavenly. Located right off the Piazza Repubblica, you can get a slice to go and eat it across the Piazza on the steps of the Comune, the townhall. You can also order whole pies. If you order a pie to go, give them ample notice as they get busy in the evening.

Ti Amo Gelato (Italian Ice Cream) . via Benedetti, 9. 0575.603712

Undeniably the best gelato in Cortona.

Travel/Tour Agent in Cortona

TRAVEL AGENT IN CORTONA

Together in Tuscany . Denyse Perathoner . travelcortona@gmail.com tel: 011.39.3355919067

Denyse is your local travel/tour agent whom you will check in with upon arrival in Cortona.

She and her team run a small, independently owned travel business. Denyse offers small, intimate, personalized tours and activities for our guests, such as local wine tours, cooking classes, bicycle tours, and other popular activities centered in Tuscany and Umbria. She has established relationships with local providers that offer some of the best tours and services that Tuscany has to offer. Her expertise also includes tours in the major cities of Florence, Rome, and Venice, along with other areas of Italy.

In addition, Denyse and her team can manage all your travel needs within Europe, train tickets, taxis, hotel accommodations anywhere in Italy, and museum tickets in all major cities.

Florence

FIRENZE (FLORENCE)

Never drive to Florence; it’s a headache and takes twice the time. The train is simple and takes only 1 hour and 15 minutes. Trains run every hour on the half hour. In order to do Florence comfortably in a day, take the 8:30 am train from Camucia-Cortona station at the bottom of the hill. Follow these easy steps:

  1. Buy round trip train tickets at Ivan’s Tabaccheria del Corso/Il Pozzo, Via Nazionale 12
  2. You can take the bus to the Camucia-Cortona train station. It stops at Piazza Garibaldi, the parking lot at the entrance to Via Nazionale. Purchase round trip bus ticket also at Ivan’s Tabaccheria.
  3. To drive to the station, drive down the main road you arrived on back to Camucia. When you arrive at the stop light at the bottom of the mountain, make a sharp left. Go one block to your first possible right turn, via Laurentana. Go to almost the end of this street, you will see a sign that says Stazione. Turn right. Go a few hundred yards until you hit a ‘T’ type intersection, turn left and you will see the train station at the end of the road. There is parking but if there is no space you will need to go back the way you came to the first station sign, you will see a ‘P’ parking sign and follow it to the lot which is next to the station.
  4. Upon parking, go directly into the station and find which track is for the Firenze train. Make sure you stamp your ticket at any of the little yellow validating machines by the tracks, and do this again on your way back at the Florence station. The conductor comes on the train and if your ticket isn’t stamped, it can be a costly fine.
  5. Our favorite museum in Florence that we recommend is the Bargello, which you can find in your guidebooks and is often overlooked by tourists. It is a gem and has a fabulous collection of medieval and renaissance sculpture, painting, Ceramics, jewels, objects-d’art, medieval armor, etc. The building it is housed in is a treasure in itself, a beautiful castle structure with fabulous frescoes and architectural detail. The museum is closed Monday and everyday at 2 PM.
  6. Trains back to Cortona run almost every hour on the hour. You can get specific times from the train station or when you buy tickets in Cortona.

FAVORITE PLACES IN FLORENCE

Trattoria 4 Leoni . Piazza Della Passera (Via De Dé Vellutini 1r) . tel: 055.218562

Absolutely some of the best food you will find in Tuscany and even Italy. Do not miss it, and you must reserve in advance!

Trattoria La Casalinga . Via Michelozzi 9r . tel: 055 267 9243

Wonderful local trattoria located just off the Piazza Santo Spirito on the other side of the Arno River. This trattoria is authentically Florentine, traditional cuisine and excellent food. It is lively, down home and an experience!

Rome

ROME

HOTELS AND BED & BREAKFAST IN ROME

We work with several wonderful hotels and Bed & Breakfasts in Rome that we have personally visited. We are happy to assist you in reserving accommodations in Rome. Please email Denyse, travelcortona@gmail.com, or us for pricing & information.

FAVORITE PLACES IN ROME

La Carbonara . Via Panisperna, 214 . tel: 06.4825176

I recently was taken to this small trattoria in the center of Rome. Spaghetti Carbonara is a traditional Roman dish and La Carbonara’s version of this classic dish is as authentic as it gets!

Trattoria Da Enzo . Via Dei Vascellari 29 . tel: 06.5818355

We love this very simple, authentic trattoria. The food is traditional Roman cuisine. Try the Fiori di Zucca (fried zucchini blossoms) if they are in season, and the Pasta Carbonara is excellent, another Roman specialty.

Pizzeria Da Baffetto . Via Del Governo Vecchio 114 . tel: 06.68.61.617

Great pizza in Rome! Get there early to get a table, this pizzeria is a Roman institution.

Via Del Governo Vecchio (Located Near Piazza Navona)

Don’t miss this great shopping street in Rome, with many beautiful and unusual boutiques.

Il Gelato di San Crispino . Via della Panetteria, 42

Artisan gelato made with high quality ingredients.