Posted by: passagetoitaly | March 6, 2010

Off the Beaten Trail: Cortona, Italy: Churches Part 2

Our tour of Cortona first began here, highlighting the characteristics of this town made known to many by the book and film, Under the Tuscan Sun. The tour then continued here, with the first special on the towns churches. This post concludes the tour of the churches, featuring the Duomo, the Sanctuary of Santa Margherita, and the Convento delle Celle.

The Duomo

The Duomo

The Duomo, featured left, can be found in the Piazza del Duomo. However, unlike many Italian towns which feature the church in the heart of town, the Duomo can be found near the edge of town. If you look closely, the facade reveals changes to the original structure, perhaps with the original entrance being larger. According to Wikipedia, the beginning to its construction began in the 11th century, and was name a cathedral in 1325 by the Cortonese diocese. (By clicking on the link to Wikipedia, you can read the article about the cathedral, however, it is in Italian.) Its bell tower, featured below to the right, was built in the by Francesco Laparelli. If you face the Duomo, to the left is an incredible panoramic view of the valley below.

The Duomo's bell tower

Sanctuary of Santa Margherita

The sanctuary was built on the site of the former church of San Basilio, dedicated to Santa Magherita after her death in 1297. Its construction was finished during the 19th century, but has undergone extensive renovations since 1857. The facade has a beautiful marble rossette made in the 14th century.

The first altar has a painting done by Barrocci called the Estasi di Santa Caterina d’Alessandria. The altar to the right of the high altar displays the infamous Crucifix to which Santa Magherita prayed to. Legend has it that the Crucifix spoke to her. The high altar was done in the baroque styles and fashioned with marble. It also encases the cinerary urn of Santa Margherita, which the public can view. Originally her body was buried in a marble mausoleum, was later exhumed in 1330 to be placed in the urn.

Convento delle Celle

panoramic view near the Duomo

As far back as 1199, documents show that hermits had inhabited its cells. A hermitage was later founded in 1211 by St. Francis of Assisi. Many well-known saints stayed at the hermitage, including Fra Elia, mentioned in the Churches Part 1 section of the Off the Beaten Trail; St. Anthony of Padova; Guido Vagnottelli; Beato Vito; and Saint Bonaventure. There are a totaly of twenty cells that can be views, including those of Fra Elia and St. Francis.


Please stay tuned for more on Cortona! The next part will be able the festivites of the town, and the MAEC, or Il Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca e della città di Cortona, mentioned in the very first post of the Cortona edition of Off the Beaten Trail.

Buon weekend a tutti!

(Have a good weekend everyone!)


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