Tour Cortona art and spirituality in the middle ages and the hermitage of the celle

Cortona is a town of ancient origins rich in history, art and fabulous museums. Its position on top of a high hill overlooking the Valdichiana is unique and the view that extends to Lake Trasimeno is breathtaking.

A very special and unusual way to discover the essentially medieval character of its historic center is to choose this guided tour focused on the art and spirituality of this Tuscan village in the Middle Ages, whose strong point is the excursion to the magnificent Franciscan hermitage of Celle near Cortona.

San Francesco in Cortona

Walking through the narrow streets lined with stone houses you will discover the Church of San Francesco in Cortona, the second oldest Franciscan church in the world designed by Cortonese Friar Elia Coppi, friend of Francis of Assisi and his successor as Minister General of the Franciscan Order. The church was part of a Franciscan convent founded in the 13th century, traces of which remain in the elegant Gothic mullioned windows of the ancient cloister.

In addition to the beautiful paintings and medieval objects that belonged to the Saint (the cassock, a manuscript Evangeliary and the cushion on which he died) that are kept inside, the precious Reliquary of the Holy Cross in ivory and gold filigree, donated to Friar Elias himself, stands out. by the Emperor of Constantinople in 1244, then inserted into a precious structure in silver and copper.

Oltre ai bellissimi dipinti e agli oggetti medievali che si conservano al suo interno appartenuti al Santo (la tonaca, un Evangelario manoscritto e il cuscino su cui morì) spicca il prezioso Reliquario della Santa Croce in avorio e filigrana d’oro donato allo stesso Frate Elia dall’Imperatore di Costantinopoli nel 1244, poi inserito in una preziosa struttura in argento e rame.

The Hermitage of Celle near Cortona

Given its proximity to Umbria, Cortona is full of memories linked to the presence of St. Francis of Assisi who visited Cortona several times during his life. A first time in 1211 when, meeting the Cortonese nobleman Guido Vagnottelli, he received a harsh and wooded place as a gift where he founded the Celle and a second time in 1215 when he spent Easter celebrating mass in the Celle. The Celle convent therefore constitutes one of the first Franciscan settlements chosen and desired by Francis. At the place where “Le Celle” now stands, in fact, he found the vestiges of the Redeemer: water, a sign of Christ, living water; the stone, sign of Christ the rock on which to build one’s life; a fissure in the mountain, memory of the wounds of the Lord Jesus, so often longed for by Francis, to relive in his body the love that the Lord had nourished and nourishes for every man in his passion.

The guided tour of the Celle Hermitage allows you to discover an extraordinary place for the beauty of the natural environment and the very simple Franciscan architecture and for the profound spirituality linked to the message of Francis of Assisi, being still a monastery inhabited by the Capuchin friars who welcome pilgrims and people eager to spend time in a mystical place.

The Church of Santa Margherita in Cortona

The presence of St. Francis of Assisi and the Franciscans in Cortona marked the story of Margherita of Cortona who lived in the thirteenth century and was so close to the people, to whom she lavished care and assistance so much that she was acclaimed a saint by the people of Cortona even though she officially became so only in 1785.

The guided tour of the Church of Santa Margherita da Cortona, in neo-Gothic style, which rises in the highest and most spectacular part of the town. will let you know the unusual and singular story of this woman considered a “new Magdalene” because after a sinful life and painful events that marked her, she became a charismatic point of reference for the people of Cortona. The church preserves remarkable works of art, the marble tomb of the Saint and the sarcophagus with a precious baroque silver frame which houses the remains of the Saint.

Tour Details

What you will see

  • Piazza della Repubblica, the heart of the city with the Town Hall of Cortona
  • The 13th century Church of San Francesco in Cortona in Franciscan Gothic style
  • The Celle Hermitage founded by St. Francis of Assisi 3.5 km from Cortona
  • The Church – Sanctuary of Santa Margherita da Cortona

Expert guide and art historian

History, art, spirituality and architecture tours