The Medici Fortress of the Girifalco

There has probably been a fortress on the hilltop overlooking Cortona since the 5th or 6th century BC, when the original Etruscan walls followed a course which roughly corresponds to the existing perimeter walls of today. However the first historical records describing a ‘strong and beautiful fortress’ date back to 1258 AD. Having been plundered and sacked several times during the wars with Arezzo it was sold to the Florentine Republic in 1411, together with the entire city of Cortona, although reconstruction work only began in 1527.

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Fonterutoli, a geopolitical balcony over Florence and Siena

Amongst the great variety of temporal and spiritual potentates that dot the history of Italy, the Holy Roman Emperor Otto III passed through here (remembered by the Edict of Fonterutoli of 998 which put an end to the territorial conflicts of the dioceses of Siena, Arezzo and Fiesole), then Pope Leo X who left Rome and stopped in Castellina to meet the freshly nominated King of France in 1515; here came the Guelph troops who came down from Florence for the Battle of Montaperti (4 September 1260) and were soundly defeated; an earthquake for the European geopolitical scenario in favour of the Empire and the Republic of Siena. We also remember how Filippo Brunelleschi passed here to remodel the fortresses of Castellina, Staggia and Rencine. We also recall, for various reasons, various famous personalities who were here for work or residence, such as Niccolò Machiavelli, Jacopo della Quercia, Lisa Gherardini and Michelangelo Buonarroti.

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