The 20th century has been characterised by an unprecedented attention and appreciation of our origins, mainly in the field of antiques and arts in general, of different literary forms, of popular festivals and folklore.
This appreciation of origins has particularly increased starting from the postwar period, after the reconstruction of our country after the tragic events of the second World War. So, during the 1960s, folk groups and historic towns like Cortona became fashionable once again and encouraged the organisation of town quarters, which all gathered under the flag of the Consiglio dei Terzieri (Council of three quarters). The number of quarters of the town turned from three to five: two new quarters, Peccioverardi and Sant'Andrea, joined the original three quarters (Santa Maria, San Vincenzo and San Marco). Today the quarters play a different role because they do not have any institutional function, as opposed to the Middle Ages.
The quarter of S. Maria derives its name from the homonym neighbourhood.
The quarter was located in front of the entrance gateway of via Roma, which was also called “Porta del Calle” probably because the people living outside the city walls used this gateway to enter the town centre. Near this gateway and outside the walls there were the Convent and the Church of Servants of Mary. This was the church of the quarter and was demolished in 1554 with the rest of the neighbourhood according to a military strategy. The church and the convent were built by the Order of the Servants of Mary, who settled down in this area at the beginning of the 13th century.
This is well shown in a drawing by T. Braccioli of the second half of the 16th century. Although approximately, it represents the main monuments and buildings of the quarter that Grand duke Cosimo I, as previously mentioned, made completely destroy in 1554.