CORTONA, MOST BEAUTIFUL CHURCHES

CHURCH OF SAN FRANCESCO (XIII Century) Like the Basilica of San Francesco in Assisi, the church of San Francesco in Cortona was built by Brother Elia in 1247 on a land where there were substantial remains of Roman buildings. The church was considerably remodeled , especially in the 17th Century, however, still retains intact grandeur of its original lines. The portal and the windows of the left side, recently restored, are of a great beauty. Inside the church the marble, by Bernardino Radi (XVII Century) which contains the relic of the Holy Cross, brought by Brother Elia from Constantinople, the cassock, the Gospels manuscript and the pillow, all relics belonged to San Francesco. On the right wall near the entrance there are the remains of a fresco attributed to Buffalmacco (XIV Century).

CHURCH OF SANTA MARGHERITA (XIII Century) The church stands on the top of a hill where there was a church dedicated to St. Basil built by the Camaldolese monks in the 11th Century. The church was damaged during the Sack of Cortona in 1258 and rebuilt in 1288 from Santa Margherita, who spent the last years of his life in a room at the back of the church and died there in 1297. She was buried in the church of St. Basil. Immediately after the death of Margherita of Cortona, next to the church, was built a larger church designed by Giovanni Pisano where her body was later brought in 1330. Since then the church was called simply Santa Margherita. It was enriched by paintings and sculptures especially of the Sienese school, of which today we can see only poor remains. The church underwent a remarkable baroque transformation in 1738 and in the modern era, in the second half of the 19th Century, the small church and the largest church of the Pisano were almost completely demolished so today are no longer visible. Of ancient buildings remain only the choir and two vaults, the second and third of the nave. As it appears today, the church was designed by architect Falcini, who modified a project of the Presenti’s interiors, and of the Castellucci’s facade.

ABBEY OF THE CHURCH OF FARNETA (VIII Century) It is located in the heart of Valdichiana, along the road from Cortona to Foiano, about 10 kilometers from Cortona. The abbey of the Benedictine monks was built around the VIII-IX Centuries thanks to the generosity of the counts of Ronzano. It reached its highest splendor between the IX and XIV Centuries. The monks kept it until 1780, when with the suppressions of the Grand Duke Leopoldo, passed to the secular clergy. Of particular interest are the structure of the apse and the crypt, recently rediscovered and restored. The crypt is supported by columns and capitals of the Roman era variously carved and decorated. One of them is made of red granite from Egypt.

CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA DELLE GRAZIE AL CALCINAIO (XV Century) Its construction dates back to the years between 1485 and 1513, made by the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini, who designed it with the collaboration of Luca Signorelli, with Renaissance-style, Latin cross and with a beautiful dome that vertically soars the construction above the surrounding trees. It was the church of the guild of shoemakers who had their vats of lime for tanning leather in that place, protected by the image of a Madonna (by Bernardino Covatti) which is now placed in the main altar. On the left and right altars in 1788 , from the ancient church of St. Vincent, were placed a Madonna and Saints by Bronzino (1535-1607). The central rose in the façade has a stained glass by Marcillat (1470-1529) depicting the Madonna. At her feet Pope Leo X, Emperor Maximilian I and Bishop of Cortona Cardinal Francesco Soderini.

CHURCH OF SANTA MARIA NUOVA (XVI Century) This beautiful church was built towards the end of 1500, on a design by Cristofanello, but according to some then modified by Vasari, with Greek Cross with three identical facades. The dome that was affected by the Baroque style was built back in 1600. Inside the church four pillars supporting the building and giving it a strong vertical thrust. The main altar is by artist Radi, from Cortona. In the altar to the right a painting by Alessandro Allori representing the birth of the Virgin (XVI Century). The stained glass of the rose window of the facade is of Urbano Urbani (XVI Century), depicting the Adoration of the Magi. In the choir elegant stalls of the 16th Century.

Have a look at our beautiful villas in Cortona and Valdichiana for a great holiday among art and nature.

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