Cortona with kids

Cortona is quintessential Italy paired with breathtaking views

Cortona is a breathtakingly picturesque hilltop village in Tuscany. Our family of four (kids 9 & 11) visited for 3 nights in May and fell completely in love with this place… our only regret is not staying longer.

Why did we visit Cortona?

We wanted to get a feel for the ‘real’ Italy. It was a tip off from a work colleague that put Cortona on the list of places that would tick that box and as soon as I googled it I knew it was going to make the itinerary. That being said, I wasn’t quite prepared for how beautiful it is there and how much there is to see and explore, all without the crowds that were such a hinderance everywhere else we visited.

What makes Cortona so special?

It’s small, beautiful and has old school charm

Photos simply cannot capture how amazingly gorgeous Cortona is and just wandering through the streets is an experience in itself. On the subject of walking, one of the best things about Cortona is that you can walk to everything because the town itself is quite small… it is on a hillside though, so it can still be a bit of a workout!

Food & Wine

The best food and wine we experienced in Italy was during our stay in Cortona… whether we were eating out or eating at home.

DIY

On Saturday’s there is a market in the main piazza where you can buy all sorts of local produce. One of my favourite experiences in Italy is muddling through with my very mediocre Italian (thanks DuoLingo) to buy some salami, pecorino, bread and tomatoes at this market… eating it was pretty fun too! There is also a small grocery store in the main piazza where you can get most of the essentials.

Relaxed

Our AirBnb host recommended a trattoria a short walk from our apartment. Trattoria Toscana (the name is different to what’s listed on the aforementioned Google maps link) was fantastic and cheap too with generous servings of delicious home made pasta and great wine in a relaxed setting.

Formal

To celebrate my 40th birthday we went to a more upmarket ristorante, Bottega Barracchi, in the more touristy part of town. This Barracchi family grows their own wine (grapes) and olive oil. The bottle of wine we had with dinner certainly was the highlight of the night. The food was good and they made up a pasta meal for the kids. This outing was more expensive than anywhere else we dined in Italy but that was mostly because of the wine (which was worth every penny). At least the menu provided a rest from he pizza and pasta we’d been eating!

Art, Architecture and History… minus the crowds

Cortona is a treasure trove of art, architecture and history. The quiet streets and venues are such an antidote to the tourist bustle of the major attractions elsewhere in Italy and makes the experience so much better for kids.

The MAEC Museum

The MAEC Museum (Museum of the Etruscan Civilisation) is oh so more awesome and encompassing than its name suggests. Cortona has a fascinating human history pre-dating the Etruscans right up to the present day and this is beautifully captured by the displays here and while it is fairly small, as far as museums go, it is well designed walking you through the pre-human history of the area leading you through the different eras in succession. I’ve been to a lot of museums with my kids and this was a standout… if you want to give your kids (and yourself) an education on how our human society evolved then this is a really good place to start. The entry cost 24 (family). Allow 2 hours. There is also an archeological park associated with this museum.

The Diocesan Museum

Want to see beautiful renaissance paintings with absolutely no crowds or lines?… then look no further than the Diocesan Museum! This museum is home to a small but beautiful collection of art and you will probably have the place nearly to yourself… we did! Admission was 10 (family of 4). Allow 1 hour.

The Fortress of Girifalco

We were told about the Fortress of Girifalco or Fortezza del Girifalco by our taxi driver and we found it by accident when walking up to the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita (it’s right next door). This place is super cool and a must see if you are in Cortona with kids plus it has spectacular views! Admission (family of 4) was 16. Allow 1 hour.

The Sanctuary of Santa Margherita

It didn’t take us long to find out that Santa Margherita, the patron saint of Cortona, holds a special place in the hearts of the locals and they credit her with shielding them from the bombs in World War II. Santa Margherita’s 800 year old remains are preserved and on display in this beautiful church. It’s well worth a (respectful) visit. Allow 30 mins.

How much did it cost?

Cost listed here are what we paid and cover our family of 2 adults & 2 children

Getting There…

  • Taxi to & from Camucia Cortona station to Cortona Airbnb 35 euro

Accomodation

  • AirBnb for 3 nights 397

Day 1

  • Fortress tickets 16 euro
  • Lunch at Trattoria Toscano 45 euro
  • Gelato (4) 17 euro
  • Groceries (mostly dinner ingredients) 12 euro

Day 2

  • Salami and cheese from the market 11.70 euro
  • tomatoes from market 2.50 euro
  • Bread from bakery 3.50 euro
  • Diocesan Museum 10 euro (family ticket)
  • MAERC Museum 28 euro (7 euro each)
  • Groceries 3.5 euro
  • Birthday dinner 115 euro

Total: €696.20

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