By Carol Coller
The immense beauty of the Tuscan countryside, the atmosphere of an ancient town, great cultural events and the singularity of an ambience where the quality of life is enhanced by the natural surroundings – this is Cortona.
Since this February, the Etruscan city has featured a new high-speed connection with the large cities of Northern Italy. The “Frecciarossa” train allows one to move between Milan and our train station in three hours and this will make visiting the city’s splendors even easier and more comfortable. The health situation is still in a difficult moment, but the city administration, together with cultural and tourism operators, has prepared a program of events to be held with complete safety in mind. There are also a series of packages that foresee the possibility to “find refuge” together with family members in one of the fine accommodation facilities in the area. Cortona is a small center, with a big heart and with a vast and varied territory – from mountains to gentle hills, down to the valley where some of the most interesting gastronomic wonders of Tuscany are produced. Already, starting this Spring, in accordance with actual health conditions, exhibitions will be prepared, and the first events of the season brought into being. The idea of choosing Cortona for your “safe harbor” away from life in the big cities is beginning to gain ground as a lifestyle choice post-Covid 19. Already a significant number of professional people have decided to spend a part of their time here, as they continue remote working.
Springtime in Cortona
The Etruscan city is awakening to Spring with many offerings for visitors. In hopes of a loosening of the limits imposed by the pandemic and a progressive return to mobility, a series of small programs and large-scale events are already in the works in Cortona. The inauguration of the new archeological exhibition in the MAEC is planned for the 4th of June and, in May, conditions permitting, there will be events for the promotion of wine and food specialties in the “Fiera del Vitellone a Chianina e Syrah” (Chianina Beef and Syrah Fair).
The title of this event, this year in its fifth edition, is “Rebirth springs from Hope”. This will take place over three days, from the 21st to the 23rd of May, where two-star products from the area, IGP Chianina beef and Syrah from Cortona’s vineyards will come together. The date has been organized by Terretrusche with the support of the city administration and the participation of the Cortona DOC Consortium and will include the participation of renowned chefs and enologists who will hold tastings, but also focus on the two products featured in this “Eno-gastronomic rebirth”.
Cortona’s good life, however, is not necessarily only events and get-togethers. The territory and its hospitality structures allow one to spend some time relaxing without having to watch the calendar. There are lots of activities geared towards wellness and there is no shortage of opportunities for those who love walking, trail running, and even excursions on mountain bikes along the numerous paths through the mountains and along the valley.
“Luci dalle Tenebre” Exhibition
Grand expositions are returning to the MAEC in the form of the exhibition “’Luci dalle Tenebre’: from the Lamps of the Etruscans to the Glow of Pompei”. This show will run from June 4 through October at the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della Città di Cortona.
The exhibition is an event of international importance and absolutely unique in its subject matter. To date, no archeological show has ever been dedicated entirely to the techniques for illumination and its related rituals with regards to the Etruscan period. On this subject, the presence of Cortona and the MAEC, as the custodians of the celebrated Etruscan Lamp – one of the most interesting artifacts on a global scale – is essential.
Recently several of new features which will appear in this event have been perfected, the most significant of which is arriving from the MANN, The Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli which has consented to lend one of its most extraordinary artefacts. This exhibition was to have taken place last year, but the pandemic situation caused it to be postponed. In the meantime, the show has been enriched thanks to this ulterior loan from the MANN – a statue originally from Pompei representing the god Ephebus, a work for which the MAEC will create a special display highlighting its position in the “Sala dei Mappamondi” (Hall of the Globes). The bronze statue is roughly a meter and a half tall and represents an adolescent holding a candelabra, which served to welcome important visitors in the ancient home where it stood.
Together with the Ephebus, the MANN in Naples “lucerne” (oil lamps) while other pieces are coming from the Museo Archeologico di Firenze to illustrate the various systems of illuminatio destined for a wide variety of human activities. There will also be a section dedicated to the typical forms coming from the Nuraghic culture in Sardinia. An ample space will be given over to a didactic section, with three dimensional models and particularly interesting features in an “immersion room”. This will make use of augmented reality and an interactive copy of the Etruscan Lamp which will allow viewers to experience, in an innovative way, some of the characteristics of this important artefact. The year 2021 at the MAEC will also be marked by exhibitions and meetings dedicated to the celebration of the 700th anniversary of the death of the great poet, Dante Alighieri.
Music, photography, and antiquarianism will fill Cortona’s summer days. A grand calendar of events in which the artists, musicians and the Cor Orchestra will take the lead in open air musical encounters. The Archeological Park of the MAEC and the Parterre Park will be two of the natural theaters for this summer, where it will be possible to attend performances in complete safety.
One of the dates to remember in the program is that of “Cortona on the Move”, the international festival of photographic arts which will present its 11th edition. The festival will take place from the 11th of July to the 26th of September and, as every year, will be held in the palaces of the historic center of the Tuscan city and its Fortezza del Girifalco. “We are Humans” is the focus for 2021, with the festival placing the themes of humanity and human relations in the forefront.
The other major exhibition is “Cortonantiquaria” the gathering dedicated to art and antiques scheduled from August 20th through the 5th of September, but over the course of the summer there will be no shortage of other noteworthy happenings. Amongst these there will be the passing of the MilleMiglia classic car procession on June 18th and, still on the topic of motorcars, September 18th the Gran Premio Nuvolari is a date to remember. June 20th marks the day of the arrival of the “Colonna della Libertà” (Column of Freedom), a caravan of historic military vehicles from the Second World War. Over the course of the summer several events dedicated to Cortona’s surrounding hills are planned, in additions to many other events which, health conditions permitting, will be part of the summer program.