TOURIST INFO OFFICE – THEY SPEAK ENGLISH Agenzia Promozione Turistica in Palazzo Casali, Piazza Signorelli - Cortona. Tel. 0575/630352 A local gov't tourist office which can answer questions about local services, concerts, festivities and general entertainment in the area as well as issue rail tickets and suggest suitable hotels locally and nationwide. They stock a large selection of tourist maps. Walk into the central open air courtyard of Palazzo Casali (past the MAEC museum entrance), up the external flight of stone steps directly in front of you. Once in the hallway the door is directly in front of you.
EMERGENCY TEL NUMBERS - Serious Health Emergencies (rapid intervention ambulance) : dial 118 General Emergencies (Carabinieri) : dial 113 Automobile Club of Italy (car breakdown) : dial 116 Fire Brigade : dial 115 Local Cortona Police station (not for emergencies) : 0575/637255 Local doctor for minor health concerns overnight : 0575/62893 ACCIDENTS OR ILLNESS - Go to the local general hospital first aid department (Pronto Soccorso) in the village of Fratta. They offer excellent treatment and are very well organised with qualified nursing staff, doctors and state-of-art equipment. Directions to Fratta hospital: Drive to CAMUCIA (new town below Cortona) - head north towards AREZZO along the main highway - about 2 kms out of Camucia, turn left (opposite the hotel complex BORGO IL MELONE) - this road is signposted to the OSPEDALE follow this road to the village of Fratta, about 3 kms into the Valdichiana plain - drive through the village
and the hospital is on your right, at the roundabout, soon after the village ends.
shopping trolley. Inside the store, make a beeline for the bread, cheese and salame counter to get your call ticket. There is usually a long, numerical queue and you can do your fruit and vegetable shopping nearby while you await your turn, but keep an eye on the digital display above the counters.
PHARMACIES - Italian pharmacists do a full medical school degree before specialising in pharmacy, so for minor ailments, bites, skin rashes, pulled muscles, sore throats, headaches etc, they are able to "suggest" suitable treatment and appropriate medicines which are available over the counter without the need for a regular doctor's prescription.
Pasta fresca - (home made pasta) shop in Cortona : You can buy home made pasta (tagliatelle, ravioli, tortellini, cannelloni, lasagne and gnocchi etc-) and home made pasta sauces in Cortona at Via Dardano, 40.
Farmacia Centrale - (English spoken) Via Nazionale, Cortona Farmacia Comunale - Via Sandrelli 4, Camucia (downhill from Cortona) BANKS - Opening hours: 08.30 to 13.30 / 14.30 to 15.30 every day except Saturday, Sunday and public holidays (August bank holiday is on the 15th.)
BOOKS and ART MATERIALS - Libreria Nocentini, Via Nazionale, 32 (closed Monday mornings) Sells quality art and photography books, Italian cookery books, travel guides, maps and a comprehensive supply of art materials and general stationary.
24-hour automatic cash despensers are located outside most banks in Italy. The local ones take VISA, AMERICAN EXPRESS, DINERS and CIRRUS cards. All banks will change Travellers cheques and Eurocheques, and you need your passport for identification! The major banks in Cortona are Monte dei Paschi di Siena in Via Nazionale 42, and Cassa di Risparmio di Firenze in Piazza Signorelli (yellow stucco facade next to Palazoo Casali).
FREE WiFi INTERNET - (with your own laptop or smart phone) Bar La Saletta (closed Mondays) in Via Nazionale, Cortona. Take along your device, buy yourself a coffee and your away. There is no charge for the wireless service in this bar! There are several more bars in Cortona that also offer wireless internet access. COIN OPERATED LAUNDROMAT - Bluewater (24 hour/7 days a week), in Via Lauretana, Camucia (down the block from Bar Cristallo, just before the hardware store). They have several machines starting from a minimum wash load of 7.5 Kg / 4 Euros per load. Also have drying machines.
FOOD SHOPPING - If your arrival in the area is delayed and you think you'll reach Cortona after store closing hours (8pm) you can get basic provisions at the AUTOGRILL restaurant / shops located along the A1 Autostrada. Local store opening hours: 08.30 to 13.00 / 16.00 to 20.00 Monday to Saturday. Food shops close Wednesday afternoons and all day Sunday. However, during July and August some stores in Cortona are open on Sunday morning from 09.00 to 12.00). Cortona and the new town of Camucia are well provided with general stores, butchers, greengrocers, discount stores and supermarkets. The main, quality supermarket COOP - is located on the northern outskirts of Camucia, heading in the direction of Arezzo. During July and August this is open every day of the week except on Sunday afternoons.
CAR & SCOOTER HIRE - Autonoleggio Il Girasole : Located on the SS 71 road that runs through Terontola (5 kms south of Camucia heading towards Lake Trasimeno), on the lefthand side just before the turnoff to the main line railway station. Rates for a small car such as Ford Fiesta start at Euros 37 per day (6-day rental) up to Euros 57 per day for a 1-day hire. HORSEBACK RIDING - (www.ilcastagnoclub.com) Il Castagno, Ossaia di Cortona (contact cell # within Italy 338 833 7551) Near the village of Ossaia, located at the mouth of the Val d'Esse plain just 3 kms southeast of the Cortona hillside (direction Mercatale). You will find a covered field, mounting station, horse boarding house, horse training and riding school as well as organised trekking by reservation.
Getting to the COOP supermarket: drive to the traffic lights in the centre of Camucia and follow the signs to Arezzo. Drive out of town and on past the two big fuel stations (AGIP and ESSO) then you will see the large complex below the road, on the lefthand side, 200 yards further on. It has an enormous carpark. Remember to have a coin (1 Euro) ready to release your
FUEL STATIONS - Opening hours: 07.30 to 12.30 /
15.30 to 19.30 Monday to Saturday and closed on Sundays. Outside these hours you can fill up at the automatic cash pumps located in the AGIP and ESSO stations in Camucia, on the way to Arezzo, just before the COOP supermarket or at AGIP , Piazza del Mercato, Cortona ( at the bottom of Via Guelfa). The dispensers take 10, 20 or 50 €uro notes. Diesel fuel ("gasolio") and un-leaded gasoline or petrol ("benzina") is available according to the pump numbers. Insert your banknote (make sure you only use clean, unworn notes without creases or tears) and push the relevant button then fill up.
Roberto Cavalli boutique. PUBLIC HOLIDAYS – Some shops may be closed on public holidays. Italy has several public holidays during the course of the year when most everything is closed, except restaurants, coffee bars, fuel stations on the autostradas and 24-hour cash dispensers (for fuel or for bank notes). Plan your day trips and shopping expeditions with these dates in mind : January 1st and 6th, Easter Sunday and Monday, April 25th (Liberation Day), May 1st (Labour Day), June 2nd, August 15th (Ferragosto), November 1st (All Saints), December 8th, 25th and 26th. STREET MARKETS - The local street markets offer a large range of products displayed on stalls at very competitive prices, where you can often find bargains, especially in products such as shoes, clothing and household goods. Food, except for vegetables, is not on the whole cheaper than in most general stores, but you do find high quality, locally raised vegetables, sheep cheeses ("pecorino") and sea food. One classic feature of these street markets are the "porchetta" stalls, which sell delicious roast pork cut fresh from a whole roast pig (cooked the night before in traditional brick ovens), complete with juicy crackling and flavoured with local fennel seed, all wrapped in a fresh bread roll.
RAILWAY TRAVEL - (mainline to Florence, Milan, Rome and Naples) Website for advance bookings and train timetables: http://www.ferroviedellostato.it/ Camucia station (no ticket sales service). Not all trains stop here Terontola station (8 kms south of Camucia) All major trains stop here You can also buy rail tickets directly from the Agenzia Promozione Turistica (in Palazzo Casali – see top). Cortona is well served with regular trains that take you directly to Arezzo, Florence, Bologna and Milan in one direction, or Orvieto, Rome, Naples and Amalfi in the other. National express trains stop frequently at the railway station in Camucia at the bottom of the Cortonese hill, or even more frequently from Terontola station (further south). Both stations are connected by hourly buses to the centre of Cortona (the bus terminal is in Piazza Garibaldi).
Cortona - every Saturday morning there is also a fresh fruit and vegetable market under the loggia at PANE E VINO trattoria in Piazza Signorelli, Cortona - every morning (except Thurdays and Sundays).
Bus tickets - can be bought at all tobacconists, newspaper stalls, and most coffee bars, but not on the buses themselves. So remember to buy your tickets in advance and always punch the ticket after getting onto the bus (there's an automatic time puncher on every bus). Perugia can be reached by train from Terontola station quite quickly, via a branch line, and Siena via another branch line from Arezzo station. However, it will take you half a day to reach Siena in this way.
Camucia Street Market - (larger version of the Cortona Saturday market) - Thursday mornings. ANTIQUES & BRIC-A-BRAC STREET MARKET (open air) in the provincial capital of Arezzo in the beautiful square called "Piazza Grande" in the historic centre of town (no cars allowed). Taking place over the first full weekend of every month (all day Saturday and Sunday) ENTERTAINMENT - For a full list of what is on in Cortona, Tuscany and Umbria in general, consult with the English- speaking girls at the Tourist Office in Palazzo Casali, in Piazza Signorelli. Cortona offers the following possibilities: Teatro Signorelli offers movies, national circuit plays, concerts and cabaret all year round Good Friday: solemn religious procession through the candle-lit streets of Cortona (after dark ) End of April: flower show and copperware market in Piazza Signorelli
DAYTRIP by TRAIN from CORTONA to FLORENCE S. M. NOVELLA - (central rail station) (1 HOUR 15 MINUTES RIDE) The railway station is located in the centre of the city, at Piazza Santa Maria Novella, a few minutes away from Piazza Duomo. The most important street for shopping is Via De' Tornabuoni with designer boutiques like Prada, Gucci, Armani, Ferragamo, Valentino, Vuitton, Cartier, Trussardi, Versace, Tiffany, YSL, Zegna, Desmo, Chopard, Tod's and the newly opened
In May - the Giostra dell’Archidado is an impressive and proudly local Cortonese festival featuring a Renaissance pageant with re-enactment of a historic 14th C wedding ceremony followed by a traditional crossbow contest. Local residents and big-wigs take part in the ceremony, dressed up in splendid, multicoloured period costumes.
· “Le Celle", a charming and unspoilt Franciscan monastery (behind Cortona) founded by Saint Frances himself in 1211
Cortona MIX Festival offers open air theatre, opera music, classical concerts, and rock and folk music performances in Piazza Signorelli (mid-summer, usually in August).
· "Santa Margherita" the convent and sanctuary of Saint Margaret of Cortona (where her 800-year old body lies intact in a glass case behind the altar)
· Via Crucis, a steep, but beautiful footpath featuring Gino Severini's 12 stations of the Holy Cross in futuristic mosaics, culminating at "Santa Margherita"
· Il "Parterre" a kilometer-long promenade (for pedestrians only) with spectacular views of the Chiana valley below
Soirees in some of Cortona’s churches, the courtyard of Palazzo Casali or the historic town hall featuring live chamber music, classical guitar and piano soloists, vocalists and string quartets.
· the Medici Fortress, above the Sanctuary of Saint Margaret of Cortona (open from 10 am to 6pm)
In late July, the Umbria Jazz Festival hits nearby towns like Castiglione del Lago and Perugia with some Big Names on the international music scene.
· Santa Maria delle Grazie al Calcinaio (on the hillside below Cortona) designed by famous renaissance church architect/designer, Giorgio di Martino.
Cortona ON THE MOVE international photography festival – from mid July to end of September – exhibits world class photographers from all over the world in 16 beautiful galleries throughout the town, with bookable (online) photographic workshops hosted by famous photographers and photo editors. Website: http://www.cortonaonthemove.com/en/
SIGHTSEEING in TUSCANY (within 60-90 minutes's drive from CORTONA by CAR) AREZZO for the newly-restored Piero della Francesca murals in the church of San Francesco depicting the Battle of Anghiari and the True Stations of the Cross, antique fair first week-end of every month. ANGHIARI, situated 25 kms east of Arezzo is worth a visit for inspecting the famous Tessuti Busatti factory, in Via Mazzini 14, where they make beautiful handcrafted textiles and linen. MONTEPULCIANO can be seen from Cortona the other side of the Valdichiana, on its hilltop. Apart from being the famed centre for the delicious Vino Nobile wines, it has to be experienced on foot to admire its beautiful streets, plazas and red brick buildings and particularly the magnificent church of San Biagio on the outskirts of town.
FERRAGOSTO holiday August 14/15: traditional beefsteak feast in the Parterre gardens where locally produced T-bone steaks are cooked on an enormous, open-air, 150-steak charcoal barbecue! National Antique Furniture Fair from late August (for 2 weeks): located in Palazzo Vagnotti, and Palazzo Casale (off Piazza Signorelli) showing (and selling) superlative antiques, porcelain and master paintings from all periods and all regions of Italy. PLACES worth VISITING in CORTONA
PIENZA and SAN QUIRICO D'ORCIA are charming villages worth a visit in the province of Siena, principally because of the exquisitely beautiful environment in which they are located. Their surroundings offer expansive, rolling Tuscan landscapes ideal for photography and painting. Both villages are also trading centres for the delicious "pecorino" cheese (made from sheep's milk) which is produced in this region by prized Sardinian flocks.
· Etruscan and Egyptian artefacts at the newly rennovated museum of Cortona ( called M.A.E.C.) housed in Palazzo Casali, in Piazza Signorelli · Luca Signorelli, Fra Angelico and Lorenzetti art treasures at the Museo Diocesano (opposite the Cortona cathedral in Piazza del Duomo) · Church of San Niccolò at the top of the town, housing Luca Signorelli's marvellous "annunciation" of the Holy Virgin
SANSEPOLCRO 40kms east of Arezzo, admirers of Piero
della Francesco will also want to visit the mediaeval town of where the revolutionary painter was born and which houses many of his important works, carefully transplanted to the Piero museum from nearby village churches and chapels where he practiced his art.
Again, you should take a good guide book with you on your explorations of this unique town. It is less than 1 hour's drive from Cortona travelling west along the Perugia-Siena freeway N° 326 NEARBY in UMBRIA - PERUGIA, the ancient capital of the region of Umbria, is well worth a visit. It is home of the National Gallery for early church paintings and icons, has a magnificent Romanesque cathedral as well as many interesting monuments and art treasures.
SAN GIMIGNANO, 20 minutes north of Siena, is a beautiful Tuscan hill town reknowned for its tall stone towers which were built by wealthy mediaeval families trying to keep up with the "Jones's". MONTALCINO, 35 kms south of Siena, the small hilltop village of is the centre of the geographical wine growing area for "Brunello di Montalcino", a full bodied velvety red that is now considered to be one of the world's top wines.
CITTA DI CASTELLO is a beautiful town in the plain of the Upper Tiber Valley ( 1 hour's drive north-east of Cortona, worth a visit simply to admire the design and layout of its mediaeval streets and renaissance architecture, and taste the delights of Umbrian cooking in the excellent trattorias and restaurants.
VINCI the village of Leonardo Da Vinci's birthplace, located 35 kms west of Florence after leaving the A1 autostrada at the Signa exit. The Museo Leonardiano di Vinci museum is worth visiting and is located at the Castello dei Conti Guidi near Vinci (Tel: + 39-571-56055 opening hours 9,30 am to 6 pm) SIENA, the central Tuscan hilltown par excellence, simply overflows with history and divinely beautiful art and architecture. SPELLO, another pretty and fascinating town , highly recommended.
GUBBIO, A little over 1 hour's drive east of Cortona lies a fascinating Umbrian hilltown. ASSISI, the famed religious centre of the Saint Frances foundation, with its fascinating Basilica an Upper Chapel (painted by Giotto), SPOLETO, equally beautiful but somewhat larger, with a magnificant mediaeval cathedral and dozens of inviting shops and trattorias to choose from, at thirty minutes drive east of Todi.ORVIETO, perhaps the most famous of all Umbrian hilltowns, noted for its double helix staircase which winds down into the bowels of the earth for 100 meters, designed to hide and protect the Holy Roman Emporor from invading Barbaric hordes during the tenth century, when the Holy See was lodged temporarily in that town. Orvieto also has many beautiful buildings and churches to admireand it is also the centre of an excellent white wine called, naturally, 'Orvieto classico'.
MONTEFALCO, which like Montalcino in Tuscany, is a charming hilltown that is the centre for another delicious and revered red wine called, not unexpectedly, 'Montefalco'. DERUTA, just a 15 minute drive south of Perugia, is asmall town where you can inspect and purchase the the world famous, hand painted ceramic pottery made by local families who still use the same traditional designs, colours and techniques handed down to them from past generations.
TODI, after Deruta, heading south along the Perugia to Terni highway, you soon reach this town , striking white stone, Renaissance palazzi.
For more information contact: April Brown – www.aprilbrown.com 206.235.4696 firstname.lastname@example.org