A Pilgrimage to Bramasole in Cortona Italy

During 14-days in Italy, I visited cultural gems including Florence, Venice, Cinque Terre, Positano, Fiesole, and even my heritage hometown in Campania. But Cortona was  a pilgrimage because it’s the inspiration behind the book and movie, “Under the Tuscan Sun.” Once you arrive, it’s easy to see why.

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In this article, you’re invited to…

Explore the Rich History and Modern Beauty of Cortona

Cortona, Italy is a Tuscan hill town with a history as rich as its fertile soil. Ancient roots boast Umbrian, Etruscan, and Roman cultures dating as far back as the 7th Century B.C.

History and architecture buffs will enjoy the many churches and Etruscan ruins, and foodies won’t be disappointed by the authentic Tuscan cuisine and regional wines.

Tuscan Countryside | Cortona | Italy
The journey up the hillside toward Cortona is magnificent, offering sweeping views of the Valdichiana–the fertile valley–below. I can see how this vantage point would guard against invasions in medieval times!
Cortona Italy | Terra Cotta Rooftop
Moss and earthy growth add texture to the terra-cotta tiles of a villa perched on Cortona’s rolling hillside. It’s classic Tuscany.
Cortona | Italy | Tuscany | Piazza della Repubblica
The streets of Cortona surrounding the Piazza della Repubblica offer quaint little shops, some family-run for generations. You’ll find artisan papers and gifts, handmade dresses, Italian leather (oh, the leather!), jewelry, wines, and more to take home as regional souvenirs. To get the most out of your visit, try taking a private, 2-hour walking tour of Cortona. For just $120 per person, enjoy an amazing tour of this iconic, Tuscan town. Along the way, you can marvel at Cortona’s beautiful cathedral, learn about the town’s historic, Etruscan roots, and enjoy the sweeping landscape panoramics that unfold all around you.
Sunflowers | Cortona | Italy | Tuscany
Cheerful sunflowers draw you into the intimate courtyard of Trattoria La Grotta. Locals recommend it for a taste of authentic Tuscan cuisine. Break for lunch or opt for a romantic evening of courtyard dining. Delizioso! (Indoor accommodations also available. Reservations recommended either way.)
Cortona | Italy | Tuscany | Exploring
What’s better than exploring? I wonder where these ancient steps lead. (This is how I get myself in trouble.) Hey, I’m walking off a great Italian meal…!
Cortona | Italy | Tuscany | Shopping
Just a little window shopping in Cortona, Italy. Handmade papers, fountain pens, inks, leather notebooks. It’s a writer’s dream!

Find Out Where to Eat in Cortona

Piazza de Repubblica | Cortona | Italy
The centuries-old center of Cortona is the Piazza della Repubblica, which dates back to Roman times. It continues as a central meeting place within this Tuscan community today.
Bolognese | Cortona | Italy | Caffe deli Artisti
How does it get better than this? Fresh made Spaghetti Bolognese for lunch in Tuscany. I’m in heaven at Caffe degli Artisti – Cortona, Italy. For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, you could also try taking an authentic, traditional, Italian cooking class. During this amazing class, a fun and knowledgable local chef will teach you all about Italian food and culture. You’ll also receive secret local cooking tips that will help you make iconic, Tuscan dishes like duck seasoned with wild fennel, meat ragu, tagliatelle with tomato sauce, and cantucci biscuits.
Clocktower | Piazza della Repubblica | Cortona | Italy
The 13th Century town hall and clock tower preside over Cortona’s Piazza della Repubblica. A Latin inscription with biblical origins above the door reads PAX HVIC DOMVI. Translation: “Peace Be to this House.” Words to live by, I’d say!
Cappuccino | Cortona | Italy
Ok, I admit it. I have a cappuccino problem. ☕    Related Article: Breakfast in Positano
Fountain | Cortona | Italy
I enjoyed a leisurely stroll through the WWI Memorial park (Parterre) in Cortona, which features a lovely fountain at its center of nymphs and sea creatures. (This is not the one featured in the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” a set prop placed in Piazza Signorelli.)
Italian Pastry | Cortona | Italy
Look at this pure indulgence at Pasticceria Banchelli. How could I not?
San Domenico | Cortona | Italy
Peter Capucci of Tiferno (b. 1390, d.1445) rest on the central altar of San Domenico, a small but beautiful medieval church in Cortona.  A longtime priest known for patience and humility, he is attributed with performing miracles. Pope Pius VII beautified Peter in 1816. If you’re short on time, you could also visit Cortona as part of a day trip from Rome. Because during this amazing group tour, you’ll get to see both Cortona and Arezzo. Two historic, Etruscan towns in Tuscany that are brimming over with fabulous wine, delicious food, marvelous squares, picturesque churches, and medieval palaces. Conversely, you could also embark on a delightful day trip from Florence to some of the most beautiful towns in all of Tuscany. So, live out all of your “Under the Tuscan Sun” inspired dreams as you explore the towns of Siena, Montepulciano, and Cortona. Along the way, you’ll get to savor some of the region’s best wines and see the filming locations for movies like “Gladiator”, “Under the Tuscan Sun”, and “Letters to Juliet”.

Follow The Scenic Road to Bramasole

Path to Bramasole | Cortona | Italy
I came to Cortona on a bit of a pilgrimage, wanting to see scenes from “Under the Tuscan Sun” because 1) it’s so beautiful and 2) the movie’s messages were personally meaningful. The story takes place at a villa named “Bramasole,” which loosely translates to “I yearn for the sun.” (Anyone who knows me knows this defines me!) So, I embarked upon the cypress-lined path that ascended to the highpoint of my visit: a glimpse of Bramasole.

 

Tuscan Villa | Cortona | Italy
With each turn of the road in Cortona toward Bramasole, I enjoyed incredible panoramics of the Tuscan countryside. Imagine living here, perched on the edge of the hillside? What views!!
Lake Trasimeno | Cortona | Italy
I can easily see how Cortona inspired writer Frances Mayes to take up residence to write the book, “Under the Tuscan Sun.” (Read my book review here.) It’s an enchanting town, steeped in Etruscan and Roman history, Italian Culture, and nestled within the Tuscan hills. From here, you can see Lake Trasimeno in Perugia (Umbria) and beyond. Can you see that bright spot in the center of the horizon? Even on this hazy day, Trasimeno is visible.

Arrive at Bramasole, Inspiration for Under the Tuscan Sun!

Bramasole | Cortona | Italy
Uncertain of my bearings and direction, I walked along Localita Torreone for a long while in search of Bramasole. Dusk was falling, and the air was damp with mist. I thought to myself, what have I done — lost out here by myself, in a foreign country speaking little Italian, tired, and on a deserted road to possibly nowhere? And then I saw it. Bramasole rose before me, dressed in gorgeous Tuscan hues, just as I’d long imagined. This villa was the “real” Bramasole Frances Mayes wrote about in her book “Under the Tuscan Sun.” I savored the moment, relishing the tremendous success of a fellow writer and Italophile, and the story of a woman who found happiness after life threw her a few curve balls. I pinched myself and mentally checked Bramasole off my bucket list. (“Villa Laura,” the home filmed in the movie, is also in Cortona.)
Shrine | Bramasole | Cortona | Italy
“Every day, I watch for the old man with the flowers, and I wonder, was he born here? Did he love someone here? Did he lose someone here?” – Frances Mayes, “Under the Tuscan Sun” (film)
Flowers at Shrine | Bramasole | Cortona | Italy
I collected a spray of wildflowers along the path to Bramasole, leaving behind the token of gratitude at the little shrine in Cortona, Italy.
Balcony | Bramasole | Cortona | Italy
“Life offers you a thousand chances… all you have to do is take one.” (Frances Mayes, Under the Tuscan Sun)
I took one last look up at the balcony of Bramasole before heading back to town in Cortona. I couldn’t be happier about my off-the-beaten-path pilgrimage or the opportunity to experience a bit of the inspiration behind “Under the Tuscan Sun” by Frances Mayes.  So long, Cortona!

Going to Cortona was a dream come true for me. When the opportunity presented itself, I jumped without hesitations. Where have you always wanted to go, given the chance? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

If you too want to embark on your very own, “Under the Tuscan Sun” inspired pilgrimage, but aren’t exactly sure where to stay while in Cortona, then here are two exceptionally wonderful places to stay.

The first is Casa Dreosti, which is a local bed and breakfast that is brimming over with charm, warmth, and character. That’s because plush, well-appointed rooms here start at just $90 per night and feature state of the art, flat-screen TVs. Guests here can also enjoy access to an expansive, communal seating area, as well as a lavish, continental breakfast spread that is available every morning. The hotel also has a fantastic location and is situated just 32 miles away from Perugia and 20 miles away from Arezzo.

However, if you’re looking for a slightly more luxurious stay while in Cortona, then consider Villa di Piazzano. This historic, exquisitely decorated villa in the Italian countryside sits just 3.7 miles outside the city center and features well-manicured gardens, an exquisite terrace for al fresco dining, a spacious pool, and panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Rooms at this family-run hotel also start at $250 per night and feature antique furniture, air-conditioning, free WIFI, Sky TV, and access to a delicious breakfast spread that includes nothing but the most delicious Tuscan dishes,

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

64 thoughts on “A Pilgrimage to Bramasole in Cortona Italy

  • April 27, 2020 at 12:19 pm
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  • February 28, 2020 at 12:18 pm
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