Tuck into authentic cuisine in Cortona, overlooking sun-blazed views of one of Tuscany’s most deeply rural valleys.
The ancient Etruscans were among the first to appreciate the culinary riches of the Val di Chiana in eastern Tuscany. Then, in the 1990s, American writer Frances Mayes restored an abandoned old casa, with a lemon house and pergola for al fresco dining, on the green fringes of Cortona. It became the setting for her memoir Under the Tuscan Sun; its success attracted more visitors. Today, foodies pour into the medieval hilltop town to feast on its grassroots cuisine – here are some of the best places to eat in Cortona.
Should you be visiting Cortona around Easter, there is no sweeter treat than a gently spiced spolette from this much-loved bakery, chocolate maker and gelateria on the main street, Via Nazionale. The traditional oval-shaped honey-bread buns are spiced with raisins and candied fruit, slicked with sugar icing and typically devoured for breakfast during Lent. Order and pay at the counter before grabbing a table inside or on the buzzing, people-watching street terrace outside.
No address evokes Tuscan dolce vita so stylishly. This hybrid concept store-bistro is a Pandora’s box of artisan homewares and fashion accessories, contemporary art and fresh deli produce accompanied by casual all-day dining. Wines are from the Baracchi winery, and the menu surprises with Tuscan fusion combos, like fish carpaccio with orange-fennel salad and porcini mushrooms with pecorino fondue. Sassy cocktails – don’t miss Sex in Cortona mixing sparkling wine with Aperol, peach purée and berry-flavoured vodka – make it an aperitivo hot spot.
This is a rewrite of an article originally by Helen Armitage.