Tour in the “poggio”
This tourist tour of Cortona will bring you to discover the upper part of the hill, which is called “Poggio” by the inhabitants. In this area you will see the most breathtaking views and the most picturesque streets surrounded by an aura of spirituality. This guided tour will propose the visit of some beautiful churches, which are rich in history and in art. This itinerary is quite difficult since there are steep slopes to walk up.
The tour in the “poggio” starts from Piazza della Repubblica. Leave the post office on your left and take the small street (via Passerini) under the arch of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo, and you will directly arrive at the Church of San Francesco (13th century). This church, which has been recently restored, was built on the ruins of Roman thermal baths by Brother Elias, who succeeded Saint Francis at the head of the Franciscan Order. Where once some artists painted frescoes, you can see today some Baroque altars. Some relics of Saint Francis, Brother Elias’ tomb and painter Luca Signorelli’s tomb are still preserved inside the church.
Go up the steep via Berrettini and you will arrive at the heart of the Poggio, the upper part of the city. Along the way you will see the round well square, where women came to draw drinking water from. On the left you will find the birth house of Pietro Berrettini, a famous painter and architect of the 17th century.
Continue going up the hill up to piazza della Pescaia, named after the Roman water tank that was at the foundations of the Monastery of Santa Chiara (16th century). It was designed by Vasari, whose style is perfectly identifiable in the big entrance room and in the church next to the monastery and was built to host the Franciscan Poor Clare Sisters.
On the opposite side of the square you see the Church of San Cristoforo (13th century), which is characterized by a simple structure with an open bell tower in the Romanic style.
The street leads from here to Porta Montanina, where you can see the ruins of the Etruscan city walls and of the Roman aqueduct.
If you go down on via San Niccolò, you will find on your left the wonderful Church of San Niccolò (15th century), which has an elegant porch, where some frescoes by Luca Signorelli are still preserved.
Take via delle Santucce on the left and arrive at the crossroads with the Way of the Cross (viale Santa Margherita). It is enriched with fourteen stations made of stone with mosaics representing “The Passion of Christ”, which have been made by Gino Severini in 1947 on demand of the inhabitants of Cortona to thank God for having been spared after the bombings of World War II.
Nearly at the end of viale Santa Margherita, near the Church of San Marco, you will find on your right Porta Berarda (13th century). Legend has it, Santa Margherita from Laviano entered the city through this gateway in 1272.
Continue going down until you reach via Nazionale, called “Rugapiana” by the inhabitants, because it is the only perfectly flat street of the city. After shopping in the local handcraft shops and after having a drink in the typical bars, come back to Piazza della Repubblica, where our tour started and now ends.