The name “Cortona” brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. And if anyone ever asks for a special place to visit, a place to unwind, or just a place to spend a night on their way to any other place in Italy, I readily tell them to go here. This is part of the Italy that I fell in love with and dream of nightly. This is the Italy that everyone should truly visit at least once in their lives because it is not Rome, it is not Florence, and it is not Milano. It is, quite simply, Cortona. And this is the place where I first learned what a linden tree is, and how a scent can take me back to a special place instantly.
There really is only one place to stay: the Villa di Piazzano (http://www.villadipiazzano.com/en/). Located close to Pergo and part of Cortona, this villa is a dream location. The owners and staff our truly unmatched, the rooms fantastic, and the surrounding area and pool just phenomenal. Really, look nowhere else!
One of the best meals I ever had was at the Villa di Piazzano: I arrived late, was too tired to drive up to Pergo and just wanted a small meal. Kindly, the owners of the hotel told me to take a seat outside – even though they were having a private dinner party with friends – and in a few minutes, a lovely plate of cheese, bread, pears, honey and white wine was before me. To this day, I don’t think there is anything better to eat for dinner!
If pizza is what you seek, I highly recommend Birrificio Cortonese (http://www.birrificiocortonese.com/). Located in Cortona and surrounded by shops, this was an unpretentious, but delicious find and my mouth drools just thinking about it now. (And I think there is a gelato shop almost next door that is ridiculous!)
I first went to Cortona to mountain bike and although there aren’t specific mountain biking trails, the fire roads leading through the countryside and around are fairly easy to navigate and worth renting bikes and exploring. (And I have no sense of direction so if I can d it, you can do it.) The same fire roads are the perfect place to go for a stroll or a jog.