The sun beats down with a particular sweetness on this last limb of Tuscany, and every season is suitable to discover areas where the active imagination can be stimulated to recover, in a single embrace, the past and present in a dream aroused by art and history. Here, very much alive and present in the museums, in the archeological areas, in the monuments, in the historical centre and in the countryside, the testimony of an uninterrupted succession of culture (paleolithic, etruscan, roman, medieval and renaissance). The Val di Chiana is a pleasant location, from the mild climate and rare characteristic to be able to welcome a complex and interesting variety of natural environments. It is believed to be one of the most refined centres of civilisation for bread, wine and olive oil. From its height of 600 metres, and a few kilometres from the border which separates Tuscany and Umbria, Cortona dominates the whole of the Val di Chiana. Along the area of land which leads from the valley to the city, there are fields and terraces populated by olive trees, and lined with dry walls, among which are sumptuous villas fenced with holm oak, pine trees and cypress trees, farmhouses, monastries, monumental churches which seem to be built without apparent necessity, so isolated and so perfect in the great purity of renaissance style, with domes, windows, belfries, all in the clean stone of the area. A landscape which represents the admirable fusion of natural elements and that created by man, so that the old and the new have become “contemporary”, the result of its own act of creation. The visitor that looks around from above its walls will see one of the largest and most harmonious panoramas of Italy: the fertile immense plains of the Val di Chiana, whose horizon is blocked by the mountains of Siena, from which the mountains of Amiata and Cetona stand out, and the big mirror of Lake Trasimeno. The medieval aspect of the buildings and the streets give the city a very engaging atmosphere. The Basilica di Santa Margherita and the Santuario Francescano at Le Celle, invites tourists to discover Cortona from above, offering an itinerary of art and prayer, only a short distance from the historical centre. Walking instead, in Via Nazionale, known as Ruga Piana, the only flat street of the city, you arrive at Piazza della Repubblica, dominated by the medieval Palazzo Comunale, Palazzo Casali, once the residence of the noble family of Cortona, and now the site of the Museo dell'Accademia Etrusca. The rooms house an interesting collection of archeological remains from the Etruscan and Roman eras. At the most northern part of the city, opposite the cathedral, is the Museo Diocesano, where a small area houses works of the great local artists, such as Luca Signorelli, and one of the most beautiful Annunciazioni del Beato Angelico. Outside of the city, at the foot of the hill, you will find Meloni I and II at Sodo, underground etruscan tombs of the VI century BC. In the direction of Foiano della Chiana you arrive at l'Abbazia di Santa Maria at Farneta, which, with its crypt, represents one of the oldest expressions of Arezzo romanesque.
Cortona is a comune of 23,041 inhabitants in the province of Arezzo, main centre of culture and tourism of the Val di Chiana, after the provincial capital. The area of the communal territory is the fourth largest in Tuscany (the second excluding the capitals of the province) and the 29th in Italy. Antique city-state which belonged to the etruscan dodecapoli, is situated at the south of the province of Arezzo and to the south east of the region of Tuscany, at the border of Umbria.