I’ve never been one to track down filming locations of movies or TV shows. But if it’s a gorgeous location on top of being in a movie I loved, I might be more interested. Andy and I spent a month living in and attempting to explore Tuscany, and we both really loved the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, which takes place in Cortona. With two nights between the end of our apartment rental in Pisa and our overnight ferry to Spain, we decided to check out this little village in southern Tuscany.
Cortona sits on top of a steep hill. Steep and quite a bit higher than the surrounding countryside. Unfortunately the bus we took from the nearby train station dropped us off outside of what was once the city walls, and we had to hoof it up the rest of the way. But the views were certainly worth it.
It was already late in the afternoon and the sun was starting to go down, so we didn’t get to explore much that first day. We huddled in a cafe away from the cold until it was late enough to eat dinner at a wonderful restaurant we found listed here. We went to bed that night knowing we’d have a panoramic view of Cortona and its surroundings from the top floor breakfast room of our comfy hotel.
Foggy day in Cortona
What we actually woke up to was not exactly the view we expected. We were still under the Tuscan sun, but we were also above the thick Tuscan fog.
I really wanted to see the countryside during the day, but the fog was pretty impressive. It hung around all day and just barely started to thin out towards the end of the afternoon. Plus, how often do you get to be above the clouds like this when you’re not in an airplane?
Scenes from Under the Tuscan Sun
In between admiring the fog, we spent a leisurely day exploring the town and picking out a few places that were in the movie.
The photo above shows a bench where Frances (played by Diane Lane) sits with a guy from her tour. They look over the square, and she offers to write a postcard for him. She writes a very poetic description of the town, and the guy hates it and hands the card back to her.
The piazza pictured above was used for a scene where Katherine, who is friends with Frances, is drunk and reenacting a scene from La Dolce Vita in the fountain. The fountain was put there for the movie, but the real piazza does not have a fountain.
Cortona is a charming town and worth a visit if you’re looking for a slice of Tuscany (though it’s almost in Umbria) that’s a little less touristy. There’s not a lot to do, so wandering the steep streets is your entertainment. It was a little cold when we were there, otherwise it would’ve been the perfect place to relax at an outdoor cafe with a drink and a book.
We stayed at this hotel. The bed was comfortable, the room was nicely decorated, and the shower had great pressure. The views from the top floor breakfast room were spectacular. It was close enough to the center of town that it only took a couple of minutes to walk to the shops, and there were several restaurants nearby.
To get there, take the train to the Camucia-Cortona train station. From there, buy a bus ticket from the little cafe/tobacco shop on the right as you walk out the front of the train station. You can’t buy bus tickets on the bus here. The route ends at Cortona, so you can’t miss it. We were dropped off outside of the city walls, so we had to walk up, but on our way out, we were able to get on the bus from the town level up top. When you’re leaving, buy a ticket from a tobacco shop (tabacchi) and ask where to get the bus.
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- How Much We Spent Living in Pisa for One Month and Traveling in Tuscany
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- Scenes From Lucca, Italy
- Making Pizza and Eating Our Way Through Rome