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Quartier of San Marco e Poggio

Quartier of San Marco e Poggio

In Roman times and dark ages, after the depopulation of the town according to some scholars, in the uppermost part of the Quarter of S. Marco and Poggio the history of Cortona saw a new start thanks to the formation of a new urban centre, where the Town Hall was also located.

Porta Montanina

According to some documents dating back to the 13th century, when Cortona was a free “comune” under the religious power of the Diocese of Arezzo, it is possible to retrace the town partition based on the exact position of the entrance gateways: Porta of S. Cristoforo (then called “Montanina”, which identifies the Poggio in iconography), S. Maria, Berarda, S. Vincenzo, Colonia, Peccioverardi (then called “S. Domenico”). Afterwards, the town was divided into three quarters according to the position of three churches: S. Maria, S. Marco and S. Vincenzo.

The church of San Marco and the valuable mosaic of Severini

The quarter of S. Marco and Poggio, which can be reached from the present Town Hall square though the steep via Berrettini, following the most popular tourist itinerary, is characterised by the effigy of the winged lion, whose coat of arms represents the municipality itself, and by the green and red colours. Saint Mark is the patron saint of Cortona (together with Saint Margaret) and is celebrated on 25th April. Painter Gino Severini has embellished the façade of the homonym church with a valuable mosaic portraying the Saint and symbol of the town.

The churches and Pietro Berrettini

Two other churches are located in the Poggio, the most evocative and panoramic area of the town: the Church of S. Cristoforo and the Church of S. Nicolò, which has the privilege of displaying frescoes and paintings by Luca Signorelli. Some other artists lived and worked in Cortona, such as Giorgio Vasari (belonging to a family from Cortona) and Pietro Berrettini called “Il Cortona” (from which derives the style called “Cortonismo”), who was born in a house located in the quarter of S. Marco and Poggio. An interested tourist cannot miss to visit the Church of San Cristoforo, with its beautiful chapel of the Nativity of the Virgin Mary dating back to the 16th century, a jewel of medieval purity.

The activities of the quarter

As for the modern life within the neighbourhood, the quarter has taken part in many events, the most popular of which is undoubtedly the well renowned “Sagra della Lumaca” (Festival of Snails), which has been organised for 30 years during the summer. The enthusiasm of citizens in fitting the neighbourhood with flowers on balconies, the joy and passion in serving these delicious recipes with snails are unforgettable. Moreover, the “Festival of Flowers and Ornamental Plants” taking place from the end of April to 1st May, now in its 25th edition, is also certainly very important. The presence of many exhibitors from Cortona, from the neighbouring villages and other Italian cities, apart from enriching and adorning the main squares of Cortona, contributes to attract thousands of tourists every year.

The quartier and the Joust

The quarter of S. Marco and Poggio, animated by a fresh competitiveness, is also actively involved with the other quarters of the town in the “Archidado Joust”, in which it has been awarded the first prize four times in 1998, 2001, 2003 and 2010.