╗ Farneta Abbey
Farneta AbbeyThis abbey is at 317 meters on the "Chiucio" hillis of the Valdichiana, on the road between Cortona and Foiano. It is an ancient abbey founded by the Benedettini Neri (Cassinese) (Benedictine) monks. It is built on the site of a Roman temple in commendam to the Cortonese Cardinal, Silvio Passerini, the Bishops Ricci and Vagnucci and to the Ligurian, Dei Carretto; it was then passed on to the olibetani monks, who kept it until the Suppression of the Grand Duke Pietro Leopoldo di Lorena, around 1780, when the secular priests (Diocese of Cortona) took over from them.

The unusual architectural structure was only discovered recently, from 1937 onward, thanks to the unceasing research and study of Don Sante Felici, parish abbot of Farneta. The re-discovery of the crypt and its restoration is also owing to him. It is made up of three cela with barrel and cross vaults, supported by various columns, of Roman origin. The first column, rose-coloured granite, comes from Siene (Assuan, Northem Egypt) and ha Roman capital with various figures carved on it, amongst which there is achel├▓o (a human figure with horns); in the centre there is a "tempietto" with four columns: two of oriental marble, one of Ionic travertine (with 16 flutes) and the other of ash-coloured oriental granite. The Roman funerary stele, between the central and northwest cells, is also interesting and bears the inscription "Quartafiglia di Erennio Pompeo Liberto" The column of the third cell, a classic travertine base, like the first, is made of oriental marble and sandstone and is engraved on the four sides with a cross and flowers. One of the bells was re-cast in 1724, and the other, by Mugnai Filippo di Montevarchi, is from 1827.

The "antiquarium" adjoins the church and houses paleological a archaeological exhibits. Some others found in the area are on display at i Paleontological Museum of Florence.
╗ Ill Duomo
DuomoThe Cathedral stands on the remainder of the Etruscan and Mediaeval walls which run from Porta S. Maria towards Porta Colonia. A Romanesque parish church was built on this spot about 1000 AD, which was then altered in 1262 by Nicola Pisano, and then again by others about a century later. The construction of the present church began in June of 1480 and was finished in 1507. The building was mad a Cathedraland the following year.

The Renaissance-style building is about 47 metres long by 18 wide and has a central nave and two side aisles. The Cortonese, Francesco Laparelli, was responsible for the campanile which dates back to 1566. The oval windows date back to 1701 when the vault of the central nave was built. A century ago the vault was repainted by the Cortonese, Gaetano Brunacci. The external arcade is 16th century. The large pilasters were added between 1825 and 1828 closing in the 16th century columns which formed part of the arcade which was built around 1590, while Bishop Serristori had the upper part built in 1647. Inside, the main altar is the work of the Cortonese, Francesco Mazzuoli in 1664, and the pews and choir stalls, dating back to 1684, are by the Cortonese, Conti and Fabbrucci. The side chapels were built between 1650 and 1690 and the marble floor was added in 1765.

The bronze door on the tomb of the Bishops is the work of the Roman, Goffredo Verginelli and was made in 1964. On the third altar on the left there is a famous Nativity by Pietro Berrettini. There is also a beautiful marble ciborium attributed to the Cortonese, Ciuccio di Nuccio set into the end part of the same wall. In the eboir there are some interesting pantings which are attributable to the works of Signorelli. There is a 14th century Piet├  in the end chapel on the right. The Mosaic by Gino Severini of a Sacred Heart on the third altar on the right is also worth looking at.

Of the eight bells, one dates back to 1536, while the others are almost all 17th century and mostly by unknown foundrymen except for the fifth which is attributed to a certain Rascetti di Chianciano.
╗ Eremo Le Celle
Eremo Le CelleThis is a stunning example of a Franciscan convent set 3 1/2 km from Cortona on the slopes of Monte S. Egidio, over the Vignone Torrent.

Saint Francis had it built in the early 1200's and Brother Elia, Beato Guido, S. Bonaventura and S. Antonio da Padova all lived here. Today you can still see the cell where the Saint stayed.

Inside the church, the altarpiece on the high altar of the Madonna and Saints, is by Giovanni Morraci (1637-1703). This covers a precious reliquary which was given to the church by the Bishop of Cortona, Ugolino Carlini in 1846. In the refectory there is a beautiful Deposition in wood by Giovanni Curradi da Ravezzano, pupil of Giambologna. This convent is still a fascinating place because of its unique position, the silence that surrounds it, which creates a mystical atmosphere and also because it sheltered the "Poverello di Assisi" (Mendicant of Assisi).
Eremo Le Celle
A lot of people come to pay tribute to St Francis' cell: a narrow quadrangular room, 1.80 x 2.50 m. and only 1.90 m. high. The Saint's bed is still preserved inside, as well as an old sand-glass and a copy of a painting of the Madonna and Child in front of which St. Francis used to pray. Through a small window in the wall facing the Torrent one can see the place where the cell of Beato Guido was built, which was destroyed by a serious flood.
╗ Church of San Benedetto
Church of San Benedetto An elegant building from the 1700's, this chureh was built on the foundation of an Etruscan tower that existed in 1306. In 1722, when it was re-structured by the Padri Scolopi, the shape was changed from rectangular to oval. In the 17th century the Florentine Taddeo Mazzi frescoed the vault with a representation of S.Giuseppe Calasanzio.

The statue of Christ which dominates the main altar was given to the church at the beginning of the 1600's. In 1422 the church passed into the ownership of the Congregation of the Priests of the Sacrament. In 1152 it passed on to the Confraternity of S. Giovanni and then finally to the Piccola Opera della Divina Providenza di D. Orione in 1945. Today it is closed to the public. Of the three bells, one is by Tofano Rofanelli and is from 1858, and the other bears the date of 1963.
╗ Church of San Domenico
Church of San Domenico The construction of this gothic style church began in the early 1400's and finished in 1438. It was built just outside the city walls because of a tacit agreement between the Franciscan and Domenican orders. In subsequent centuries the church suffered serious damage because of the fortifications built by Gabrio Serbelloni of Milan. In 1596 the floor was re-done and the previously frescoed walls were plastered. Towards the end of the 1700's, as the convent was suppressed, the Church was left in a seriouds state of neglect. It was then restored in the first decade of the 1800's thanks to the Bishop of Cortona, Niccol├▓ Laparelli.

On the main altar there is an altar-piece by Lorenzo di Niccol├▓ Gerini (XV c.) showing The Coronation of the Virgin in the center of the tryptych with six angel musicians and ten saints on the side panels. On the right you can see a deposition by Baccio Bonetti, a Crucifix (1500's) on the first altar, and a restored fresco of the 1400's, and in the third chapel an altar-piece by the school of Signorelli.

There is also a beautiful organ built by Bernardino Boni of Cortona in 1547. The body of Beato Pietro Capucci bas been preserved underneath the altar since 1445. On the left-hand wail there are a panel by Bartolomeo della Gatta of the Assumption and a frescoed lunette by Beato Angelico. There are also the frescoes of the 15th e. church which have recently been restored.

One of the church bells bears the date of 1355 and the other, built by Luca Biondi of Cortona, is of 1422.
╗ Church of San Francesco
Church of San FrancescoWhere the church currently stands there was formerly an Etruscan building called the "Bagno della Regina" (Queen's Bath). Later the Romans built baths there and perhaps also a pagan temple.

In 1200 this site belonged to the Benedictine monks of S. Egidio who sold it to the Comune of Cortona who then, a little later, gave it to Brother Elia in January of 1245. In the same year the Franciscans bad begun work on construction of the second church dedicated to their Saint, after the one in Assisi. The resulting building was 43 m. long from the central door to the main altar and about 15 m. wide. It was built in worked stone, in perfect Gothic style, rectangular in shape with bare beams, and cross ogive vaults and mullioned windows.

It was opened to worship in May of 1254. The previous year, Brother Elia was buried in the choir; his remains were exhumed on 13 August, 1966, and under scientific examination any doubt as to their authenticity was removed. In 1596 the Church underwent a significant transformation: the large Gothic windows were replaced by the rectangular ones still visible on the right-hand side and in the choir.

The beautiful organ which was built in 1466 by Lorenzo di Giacomo of Prato, was almost completely destroyed during World War II and bas not been restored.

In the chapel on the right one can see an altarpiece by the Cortonese Mariotto Radi and one by Nicola Monti of Pistoia. In the other chapels there are works by the Florentine, Orazio Fidani, by Andrea Commodi and Lodovico Cardi. The chapel at the end on the right contains a monument to Raniero Ubertini, Bishop of Cortona from 1325 to 1348, who was a victim of the terrible plague of 1348, described by Bocaccio in the Decameron. This chapel dates back to 1657. The marble high altar is the work of Bernardino Radi. The Relic of Santa Croce, brought by Brother Elia from Constantinople and the big Crucifix by the Florentine Giuseppe Piamontini are also worth looking at. The frescoes which were discovered on various parts of the walls are by the School of Buonamico di Martino, called Buffalmacco, and date back to 1382.

Of the five bells, three have been made electric. Brother Elia had one of them cast in 1250 by Petrolini de Trebio and Pasquale Burcatelli Perugino. It was re-cast in 1773 and the diameter measures 85cm. The second bell is of 1267 and the third of 1373 by Maestro Nicola di Cortona. The other two are more recent and are dated 1771 and 1805 respectively.
╗ Church of S. Margherita
Church of Santa Margherita This stands on the site of an ancient church which S. Margherita had built and dedicated to Saints Basilio, Egidio and Caterina; another church was subsequenly built next to it, which was altered a number of times over the years and was then totally renovated between 1855 and 1897.

In 1288 S. Margherita asked Guglielmino, Bishop of Arezzo, for the authorization to re-build the oratory which bad been built in 1217. She was refused permission but obtained authorization from his successor in August, 1290 and thus the work was brought to completion. After the death of the Saint, the Community of Cortona built (1297-1304) a church dedicated to her, according to a plan by Giovanni Pisano, and next to the already existing oratory.

The Gothic building had a single nave corresponding to the central nave of the present church. The splendid rose window which can still be admired today in the facade, was a part of the former church. After various alterations, the present church was built between 1850 and 1897. It measures 41 m. by 24 m. beyond the choir and was built to the plan of the architect, Mariano Falcini, while the facade was re-done by the architect, Giuseppe Castellucci.

This magnificent re-structuring was carried out by the will of the Cortonese people who bad remained unharmed by the cholera which at that time had hit almost all of Tuscany. The body of Santa Margherita is visible in a casket on the main altar. The internal lining of the casket, which is made of solid silver, was designed by Pietro Berrettini (17th centry). On entering the church, on the right is the Pietro Berrettini chapel in which there is a painting by Federico Barocci da Urbino. The second chapel, built by Mariotto Radi in 1606, contains a painting by Jacopo Clmenti. On the left-hand wall there is a painting by Francesco Vanni da Siena in the first chapel and one by Pietro Gianotti da Bologna in the second. The statues on the pilasters by Amalia Dupr├Ę, are also interesting and were sculpted between 1881 and 1884. The flags and lamps seized from the privateering ships by Cortonese belonging to the Order of Malta are well-preserved in the large cabinets. The oldes of the bells was cast by Johannes Pisanus in 1322 and another by Moreni Tognozzi of Florence in 1765. The rest of the bells are newer.
╗ Church of S. Maria delle Grazie (Chirch of Calcinaio)
Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie The name of this church is derived from the existence of a lime pit which was used by the tannery that belonged to the Shoemakers guild on the spot where the church now stands. The Guild decided to erect a church dedicated to the Virgin, whose image is preserved on the high altar. The building is the masterpiece of Francesco di Giorgio Martini and its construction dates back to the years 1485-1513.

It is the most beautiful Renaissance monument in Cortona. The construction of the building, in latin cross form, lasted for 28 years. It is about 46 m. long, 1 1.3 m. wide at the nave and 35 m. at the transept. It is 23 m. high in the nave and over 53 m. high in the cupola. The latter was finished in 1514 and, together with the rest of the church, underwent various restorations in the 1700's and 1800's when the lead covering was taken off. In 1949 the beautiful cupola was again covered in lead and some of the mouldings on the right-hand side were re-done.

The stained-glass window in the fa├žade is by the Frenchman, Guglielmo de Marcillat (1470-1529). The fresco in the external lunette dates back to the 16th century and is by an unknown artist. The two bells are from 1861. In one of the chapels on the right there is a painting of the Annunciation by the Cortonese, Tommaso Bernabei. The two altars in the cross come from the ancient Church of S. Vincenzo and were put there in 1788. On the one on the right there is a Madonna and Saints by the Florentine, Alessandro Allori, called Bronzino (1535-1607). The stained-glass windows of St. Sebastian and St. Paul are attributed to the school of Marcillat. The portal and the high altar are works of the Cortonese Benardino Covatti. Walking down the left-hand side of the church towards the entrance one can see a Madonna by Jacone Fiorentino and an Immaculate Coneeption by the School of Signorelli in the chapels.
╗ Church of S. Maria Nuova
ChurchThis building is late-Renaissance in the form of a Greek cross, which began in 1550 from a plan by Cristofanello. After his death the design was tered by Vasari. You can see that the body of the church is Renaissance in style but the cupola is Baroque. The size of the church is 20 m by 20 m. In 1738 it was established as a Collegiate Church and has been a parish church since 1805.

The high altar is by the Cortonese, Mariotto Radi and is worthy of note. The painting in the chapel to the right of the entrance represents the Birth of the Madonna and is by the Florentine, Allori. The two altarpieces of the Annunciation by Jacopo Climenti and San Carolo Borrommeo by Baccio da Barga are also worth looking at. The stained glass window in the facade of the Adoration of the Magi is very effective and was done by Urbano Urbani, a pupil of Marcillat, in 1586.

The windows of the cupola were Recently restored and painted and have been re-opened. The two bells are both of the carly 1700's.


╗ Church of San Michele Arcangelo
Church of San Michele ArcangeloIncorrectly called S. Angelo, this church is 5 km from Cortona and is on the eastern side of the Val d'Esse.

It is a Romanesque-Byzantine church whose origins are unknown, but we do know that it already existed around the year 1000. Amongst the theories about its construction, there is one which dates it back to Maginardo Aretino, on behalf of the Bishop of Arezzo, Teobaldo, who would have sent him to Ravenna to study the Romanesque and Byzantine. In the church of S. Angelo, alongside the elements of true Romanesque-monastic architecture (three naves with apses), there are also signs of a break with tradition such as the new verticalism (emphasized by the alternating large Romanesque pilasters with slender Byzantine columns, topped by truncated pyramid capitals) which seem to announce the imminent Gothic. The columns, with the exception of the last two near the presbytery, carne without doubt from an earlier building (one can see their irregularity and the cuts made to adapt them to the height of the church).

The fa├žade is also probably the result of an adaptation of an earlier building (see the little room above the central doorway). Internally, the church is 28.50 m. long, 10.80 m. wide and 10 m. high. Unlike primitive basilicas, it does not have a crypt. The central apse is double the side apses, and higher with the transenna which look onto the roofs of the side naves. The apses, circular on the outside, are sparsely decorated, with blind arches, typical of architecture between the 6th and 10th centuries.

The fourteen Stations of the Cross are by the Cortonese artist, Donatella Marchini (1962). One of the bells is a work of 1504 by "Nicola di Johannes de Cortona", while the other of 1754 is by an unknown author.
╗ Church of San Niccolo'
Church of San Niccolo' This is an elegant, small Romanesque-style church built in the 15th century. From 1440 it was the oratory of the Compagnia di S. Niccol├▓, which was founded by S. Bernardino of Siena.It is about 15 m. long and 9 m. wide, and was altered in the 17th and 18th centuries. The coffered ceiling, which is well-preserved, underwent substantial restoration in 1768.

The graceful portico was restored around 1930. The loggia on the left is made up of six slim columns with corinthian capitals as bases. On the altar on the left there is a bust of St. Francis in terracotta by tbc Cortonese, Diego Paoletti, dated 1955. On the main altar there is the Gonfalon, one of Luca Signorelli's masterpieces, depicting the Deposition of Jesus in the Sepulchre, which was painted around 1510. On the left-hand wall there is another fresco by Signorelli, which was plastered over in 1768 and discovered in 1847. It is of The Madonna and Child surrounded by numerous saints. The watercolour on the wall in the entrance on the right is of S. Niccol├▓ and is by Gino Severini. The three bells date back to 1430 and 1770 respectively, while the smallest and the highest bears no date.

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