About 40 kilometers to the south of Pomaio, you’ll come to scenic Cortona, an internationally famous town thanks to Frances Mayes’ bestselling book Under the Tuscan Sun, the inspiration for the film starring Diane Lane, which introduced this corner of Tuscany to an even wider audience.
Cortona is exactly as it appears on the big screen: poetic, romantic, unique and completely peaceful. It’s a place where time seems to have no importance at all, and beauty is everywhere. It’s also a mecca for history buffs. Between the 8thand 7thcenturies B.C.E., Cortona was an important Etruscan settlement.
Despite its small size, Cortona has always set itself apart through its cultural vibrancy, and its internationally focused events and activities—a trend that goes as far back as the 18thcentury, when it became an important centre for archaeological research with the opening of the Accademia Etrusca and the Etruscan Museum, both of which were founded in 1728 and praised by passionate supporters all over Europe, including Voltaire and Montesquieu.
The MAEC (The Etruscan Academy Museum) is housed inside Palazzo Casali in piazza Signorelli, and it contains donations from Accademia Etrusca members. The museum conserves many different archaeological finds discovered in the area, including some that have been essential to Etruscan studies. Among these are a famous bronze chandelier known as the Lampadario bronzeo, the Tabula Cortonensis (one of the longest and most important texts in the Etruscan language) and a chest from the tomb of the prince known as Melone II del Sodo, containing beautiful golden jewellery. In addition to the museum, you can also visit the Etruscan burial mounds of Melone II del Sodo from the Archaic period and the tomb of Camucia.