Main square of Cortona

Cortona

The foundations of the city have been lost in legend

Read the story of Cortona on Cortona Cortona: Etruscans, the Laudario codex, Saint Francis and art From its tiniest assets to its infinitely grand ones, Cortona gives off light and enchantmentRead the story of
As far as the Florentine ruling class was concerned: to increase the value of the vast territorial consistency of Tuscany, like ancient Etruria, as well as the antiquity of all of its most famous cities since primordial civilisations immediately after the Great Flood, with the aim of obtaining for that territory and for those cities the recognition of Grand Duchy and the title of Grand Duke for Cosimo, something that was given to him by Pio V in 1570.

As far as Cortona’s ruling class was concerned: to increase the value of the antiquity of the city presenting it as the most noble and ancient among Tuscany’s cities, whose autonomous system, dating back to the Etruscan lucumonia (religious city state), was subsequently moulded in the free Medieval council. In the context of a confrontation, in that rather fierce period with the Florentine Lords to which Cortona had been subordinated, the re-evaluation of the legendary myths, and particularly the Etruscan one, allowed Cortona’s ruling class to have an ally in the demands of civic autonomy.
 
Giacomo Lauro’s 17th Century guide, drawing on writings by Annio Viterbese (1432-1502), that in turn draws on many antiquitous writers, states that 108 years after the Great Flood, Noah, navigating from the mouth of the Tiber River and crossing the Paglia, entered the Chiana Valley and liking this place more than any other in Italy because it was very fertile land, stayed to live here for 30 years. His descendents, among which a son named Crano who, upon reaching a hilltop and liking the height of the place and the amenity of the town and the tranquillity of the air, founded the city of Cortona in the 273rd year after the Great Flood.
 
Stefano (first half of the VI century AD 539-545), a great Greek historian affirms that this made Cortona the third Italian city to be built after the Flood, and that it was a metropolis of the ancient Turreni. Noah, seeing that Crano had done well, called him Corito, i.e., King and Successor of the Realm: in fact ‘Curim’, from which comes ‘Corito’, means sceptre which in Latin is ‘Quirim’, from which comes the epithet ‘Quirino’ given to Romolo. Crano, having taken on the title of King, on the hilltop built a royal palace in the form of a tower, the remains of which live on in the hamlet of Torremozza.
 
Crano’s realm was called Turrenia because the cities that Noah’s descendents built had high towers. This was Tuscany’s first name and Turreni was the name given to its inhabitants. But since they descended from Noah who had been saved from the waters “ad imbribus” some were called Imbri, and vulgarly Umbri. From Carno’s lineage Dardano was born who, following internal conflicts, escaped to Samothrace, then to Phrygia and finally to Lidia, where he founded the city of Troy. From Troy some of Dardano’s descendents, by now Greek, came back to live in Turrenia, Tuscany, and these were the Etruscans.
 
Among these Greeks that came to Turrenia and to Cortona were also Ulysses and Pythagoras. In fact, ancient tradition, reported by the Greek writers Aristotle (IV century BC) and his contemporary Theopompus, would have Ulysses emigrate, after his return to Ithaca and the massacre of the Proci, to Italy and more precisely to Etruria, in the city that Theopompus calls in Greek ‘Curtonaia’, and his burial took place right here in Cortona or in the surrounding area. In Etruria Ulysses, who was very esteemed here, was called ‘Nanos’, the ‘Rambler’, and his burial was identified in the “Monte Perge” near to today’s hamlet of Pergo.
 
Pythagoras after a trip to Cortona where he died, was buried in a tomb that is today known as “Pythagoras’ Grotto”: in actual fact this wrong attribution was probably caused by confusion between the town names Cortona and Crotone. According to Virgil (Aeneid III and VII) Aeneas, descendent of Dardano, while fleeing from the destroyed city of Troy docked in Lazio where his descendents founded Rome. Therefore, this tradition would have it that Cortona gave origin first to Troy and then to Rome.
 

Cover image credit: We Make Them Wonder

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