The quarters and the houses of the community
The Etruscan and Roman houses have disappeared. Some remains of these houses have come to light among the foundations of the modern and medieval constructions. The medieval house of ordinary people was usually a tower house with one room on each of the three floors. Even though many transformations have been made over the time, traces of this type of construction are legible in many of the houses to be found on Via San Marco, Via Benedetti, Via Ghibellina and others. They are small buildings, one-room wide and two-rooms long.
All the shorter sides face the street and for the most part run parallel to it. It is on this side that the windows are placed, usually two per floor. The entry door on the ground floor is usually centered on the facade and at times there are two doors. The longer sides adjoin the walls of the neighboring houses but they do not have common walls, since there was always a space at the base for the open sewer which carried away the waste. The stairway was usually in stone and occupied a small side strip of the front room. The first floor room had a large sometimes decorative fireplace with the mantel in stone. Beside the chimney, there was a space for the stone wash basin. The external facade is always finely decorated in worked stone and cornices on which the window frames rested. In some cases they were arched, in others they were completely framed by elegant beams.
The houses that were built in the beginning of the 14th century in Cortona are distinctive: the facade at the level above the ground floor overhangs above the street. The facades of these houses are made of stone only on the ground floor, while the upper floors are made of brick. The support beams, which are placed above the ground floor, jut out about a meter from the ground floor and become the support for the lighter construction in brick. Generally these houses have only one floor above the ground floor, however some of them have two floors. At the beginning of that century many examples of these types of structures could be seen on the secondary streets of the city. However, there was a desire to modernize even the houses that did not need it, therefore many of these buildings were knocked down and today there are only a few on Via Iannelli and only two on Via San Benedetto.