Slideshow of (in order): Arezzo's Piazza Grande, Lake Trasimeno, Perugia's Piazza IV Novembre, Assisi's Basilica of St. Francis, and Siena.




We know making the trip to Cortona is a big deal. We’re hoping those who join us will take the opportunity to make this their vacation for the year. To that end, we’ve planned a number of fun ideas to entertain and delight your days in Tuscany.

Visit to Arezzo
19 miles (30km) from Cortona

Tues, June 29 — Meet at 10:00am. We'll meet at the Istitute Santa Margherita (see LODGING) and convoy to Arezzo.

The wealthy provincial seat of eastern Tuscany, Arezzo is known for its antiques market and jewelry industry, the Piazza Grande, and Piero della Francesca's famous frescoes in the church of San Francesco.


Visit to Lake Trasimeno
10 miles (16 km) from Cortona

Wed, June 30 — Meet at 10:30am. We'll meet at the Istitute Santa Margherita (see LODGING) and convoy to Tuoro Navaccia. We'll take the 11:30 ferry to Isola Maggiore, walk around the island, and return on the 13:10 ferry. Then on to Passignano for ceramics shopping and lunch.

Lago Trasimeno is an immense crater lake with three inhabited islands and an average depth of just five meters. Isola Maggiore can be reached by ferries from Passignano and Tuoro on the north shore. In 217 BC, Hannibal won a great victory over the Romans on the shores of the lake. Nowadays it's a destination for swimmers, boaters, and windsurfers.


Dinner at the Scoiattolo
12 miles (19 km) from Cortona

Wed, June 30: 7:30 pm
With stunning views of Lake Trasimeno from above the charming town of Tuoro, we're hooked on the friendly romance of this casual, budget-friendly roadside treat. We love their fresh veggie antipasti and tasty meat main courses. With her wheat allergy, Heidi is thrilled with their gluten-free pasta options. While everyone is free to dine where they wish Wednesday, we hope you'll join us here to watch the sunset over the lake and raise a glass in celebration. See DIRECTIONS for how to get there.


Pool Party at Villa Michelangelo
16 miles (26 km) from Cortona

Thurs, July 1: 1-4 pm

Join our families and us at Villa Michelangelo and hang out by the pool. If you are also coming to dinner at L'Archibugio, you are welcome to bring a change of clothes and stay longer, rather than go back to your hotel in Cortona, which is in the opposite direction. However, Heidi and Carlo will need to run wedding errands after 4pm. For more about the villa, see the RECEPTION page. See DIRECTIONS for how to get there.

Dinner at L'Archibugio
28 miles (45 km) from Cortona

Thurs, July 1: 8 pm
Saluting the area's abundant hunting, L'Archibugio (i.e., the blunderbuss, an ancient musket) specializes in fresh local meats. Our caterer Marta recommended the restaurant to us last summer and we liked it so much we ate there twice in one week. Heidi recommends the grilled mixed veggies. Although it will be very informal, this is our official pre-wedding dinner, so we hope to see you there. See DIRECTIONS for how to get there.



30 miles (49 km) from Cortona

The capital of the Umbria region, Perugia is a center for international students, and its medieval streets, museums, and monuments are well worth a visit. One of central Italy's largest hill towns, Perugia's origins date back to the Umbrians and the Etruscans. In the Middle Ages, Perugia was a major power center ruled by guilds and condottieri, until it finally came under Papal control in 1538. Make sure you visit the central square, Piazza IV November, with Pisano's Fontana Maggiore and the Palazzo dei Priori (pictured in the slideshow at the top of this page). Also stop in the church of San Pietro at the south end of town. To get to Perugia, simply pick up the toll-free highway south of Cortona going east around Lake Trasimeno.

44 miles (71 km) from Cortona

One of Italy's top tourist attractions and a pilgrimage destination, Assisi is known all over the world as the birthplace of Saint Francis. See Giotto's frescoes and St. Francis's tomb in the 13th-Century Basilica of Saint Francis (pictured), then walk the length of town along pink-stoned streets to the Duomo and the church of Santa Chiara, burial place of St. Francis's most renowned companion, St. Clare. The fastest route to Assisi is to pick up the toll-free highway south of Cortona going toward Perugia. Assisi is fifteen minutes beyond Perugia.

20 miles (33 km) from Cortona

At 605 meters above sea level, Montepulciano is one of Tuscany's highest and most picturesque hill towns. Enter from the northern gate and follow the narrow main street as it spirals up to the central square, Piazza Grande. There you will find the Renaissance-era Duomo and several palaces. But watch out for the Twi-Hards—part of Twilight: New Moon was shot in Montepulciano (doubling for Volterra). As you leave the area, stop by the Tempio di San Biagio, a High Renaissance church, just off the road to the southwest of town. If it's not too late in the day, continue along the same road to tiny, lovely Pienza, where Zeffirelli's Romeo & Juliet was filmed.

50 miles (72 km) from Cortona

Once a rival to Florence, Siena is smaller today than it was at the height of its power in 1348, when its population was halved by the Black Death. Siena nevertheless remains world famous for its spectacular medieval streets, its gorgeous cathedral, and its vast Piazza del Campo (pictured), where the Palio, Tuscany's most celebrated festival, occurs twice a year. Siena is easy to reach by car—simply pick up the toll-free highway south of Cortona going west, and keep going past the intersection with the Florence-Rome autostrada.

42 miles (67 km) from Cortona

Located deep in the forested Appenines on the slopes of Mt. Ingino, this terraced medieval town in the north-east corner of Umbria is remarkably picturesque and well-preserved. Like Cortona, Gubbio became an independent city-state in the 11th Century. From 1387 to 1508 it was ruled from Urbino by the Dukes of Montefeltro, then eventually was absorbed by the Papal States. Gubbio doesn't take long to visit. The main attraction is the Palazzo dei Consoli (pictured) on the Piazza della Signoria, with expansive views to the west. Also visit the Ducal Palace and the Duomo just above, and walk along the Via dei Consoli. From Cortona, take the road to Mercatale and Umbertide (the same road you take for Villa Michelangelo). From Umbertide, Gubbio is well signposted.

59 miles (95 km) from Cortona

Perched atop cliffs rising above the Florence-Rome autostrada, small Orvieto is home to one of Italy's greatest cathedrals: the early 14th-Century Romanesque-Gothic Duomo (pictured) with its intricate facade and its many frescoes inside, particularly Luca Signorelli's cycle of the Last Judgment (1499-1504). Carlo particularly likes this cathedral also because the interior still retains its airy original appearance, not having been covered extensively with later period paneling and sculptures.

Also visit the Piazza del Popolo, with its beautiful 12th-Century Palazzo del Popolo, and the Pozzo di San Patrizio (St. Patrick's Well). This well was commissioned in 1527 by the Pope to provide the town with a water supply in case of attack. Two 248-step staircases drop down a 62-meter (203 ft) shaft, cleverly arranged as a double helix (spiral) so as not to intersect.

Florence (Firenze)
72 miles (116 km) from Cortona

What do we need to say about Florence? The capital of the Italian Renaissance, Florence is one of world's can't-miss destinations. A proper visit takes two days, but Carlo once managed to hit the principal sites in one. Go online to see if you can reserve tickets in advance to L'Accademia (home of Michelangelo's David) and the Uffizi (where you should prioritize Giotto, Botticelli, and da Vinci). Then hit the Duomo (pictured), the church of Santa Croce (where Michelangelo, Machiavelli and Galileo are buried), and maybe the church of Santa Novella. Finally, walk across the Ponte Vecchio to the Boboli garden for a view of the city.

Check back regularly for changes and additions.
Questions? Email us at HeidiandCarlo@gmail.com.