Cetona: 7 sleeping cats and a gold medal

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Cetona is listed as one of the most beautiful villages of Italy. I confess I never heard about it before the mycorneroftuscany tour. Now I’m really glad to have discovered it. It has been a pleasure to walk along its narrow climbing streets. Ooops, sorry. Not streets, coste. They are called coste because they “costeggiano” (run along) the hill.

About the hill, I give you a “panoramic tip”. If you park at the parking lot in front of the village entrance (indicated by the classic P) you have a nice view of the burg. But, if, from there, you walk following the street uphill towards the football field, the view will be wider and more enjoyable.

When we arrived the Rio Olympic Games had just finished (the week before). The first thing that we saw at the entrance of the burg was a giant banner with the writing:

“Olympic gold medal in Cetona. Thank you, Diana. Rio 2016”

The banner for Diana's gold medal
The banner for Diana’s gold medal

cause Diana Bacosi, winner of the female skeet shooting, was raised and lives here (but she was born actually in Città della Pieve, Umbria, which is 17 km away). And the banner was not an isolated case. Every shop has a poster with the same picture and message for Diana. Matteo and I followed very passionately the Olympic Games. I particularly love diving, artistic gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics, water polo, archery, synchronized swimming, high jump, pole vault and we watched enthusiastically also all the shooting competitions, including Diana’s. So it was nice to find the poster and all.

Cetona was also awarded with the “bandiera arancione” (orange flag), a sort of quality label given by the Italian Touring Club to small towns for their excellency in hospitality, environment, local crafts, etc. Extra virgin olive oil, wines, honey and meat are the burg products.

Cetona was once surrounded by 3 sets of walls, which is impressive considering that Cetona only has 2.900 inhabitants. Probably it was so protected because it was disputed between Siena and Orvieto! Nowadays only one testimony of those walls remains, a tower called Rivellino.

Rivellino Tower, Cetona
Rivellino Tower, Cetona

Things to see in Cetona

  • The main square (piazza Garibaldi) built during 1500. Ok, I have to tell it. This piazza was built by architect Luigi Vitelli, nominated marquis by the de’ Medici family. By building this piazza, Vitelli wanted to give to Cetona a new access road. His desire was to add a Renaissance flair to his burg. And so he did. In fact you’ll be surprised to find a piazza so big in a village so small. What did I wanted to say? Vitelli means calves (baby cows not part of the legs). But the quirk thing was his nickname: Chiappino. I’m stupid and I shouldn’t find funny things like that any more at my age, but I do, I’m sorry. Chiappino means “little butt cheek”.
    Me pointing at Chiappino
    Me pointing at Chiappino
  • Torre del Rivellino (XVI c.), round tower, part of the ancient walls. Initially it included a clock, recharged daily by a guardian. Only in 1886 the town decided to replace it with a modern one. But it fell down and it was taken as a sign. In fact there is no more clock on top of the Rivellino. Or, better, there is only the dial but no hands. I searched for this… really? You do call them hands? 🙂 nice, but odd for me. This will sound odd to you, but we call them lancette, which means small lances (the weapon).
  • San Michele Arcangelo church with its wooden Madonna
  • The former Palace of Justice (now Carabinieri headquarters)
  • Palazzo Minutelli which is the Town Hall. It also hosts the Civic Museum for the Prehistory of Mount Cetona. The museum has also an open air detached seat at the foot of Mount Cetona.
  • Colleggiata della Santissima Trinità (XII but enlarged in the Renaissance), interesting for the coexistence of different architectural styles and the 1400’s frescoes (beautiful the one by Pinturicchio depicting the Assumption of Mary).
  • Rione delle Monache with a line of houses along the ancient walls circuit leading to the Rocca, the Fortress. Outside one of these houses’ door a hilarious sign: Beware of the dog. He drools and licks anyone. 
  • La Rocca (X century) stands out on the hilltop, overlooking the entire village and the whole surrounding area. This is the most ancient core of the burg, but sadly (for us and luckily for them) the fortress and its garden are now a private property. Yes, some lucky people live in there! Therefore it is not visitable.
  • Villa La Vignola is a beautiful villa (XVII) with an extraordinary park, now property of the famous fashion designer Valentino. It can only be visited in a few selected dates.

The village is very tiny and you can easily visit it in less than 2 hours, including the museum. It was a pleasant burg, partly a little shabby but yet fascinating and full of romantic corners and above all full of sleeping cats. During our stroll we spotted something like 7 cats sleeping here and there along the shady coste (you can see three of them in the photos below).

As soon as we arrived the burg was empty, there was only a man sitting on a bench in the main piazza. But at the end of our visit the piazza was getting more and more lively, with children playing and more men sitting on the benches, talking animatedly and obviously staring at us strangers taking pictures of their village.

Before leaving, a panoramic picture (in the spot explained above) and then ahead towards the next mycorneroftuscany destination, the village of Sarteano and our B&B Ai Lecci in Centro. Coming soon…

Cetona
Cetona
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