I’ve already raved about tiny Cortona, a charming and quirky medieval Italian hill town that towers over the Chiana Valley. But I didn’t have nearly enough time in that post to tell you all about the amazing Cortona restaurants I got to try—-this place is a foodie’s paradise!
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Over the course of 9 days I snacked and ate and drank my way through the tiny town, and I spent some *serious* bank on meals…not because they were expensive but because I wanted to DO. IT. RIGHT. I also probably gained 10 pounds in one week. #truestory
Why is the food here so good?? And not just “duh because it’s Italy!’ good, but an extra level of awesome?? From what I understand, one reason is that the locals themselves are foodies and really enjoy eating out. It’s honestly shocking how many amazing restaurants there are for a town this size.
So I’ve gone in-depth into a number of the best bars, coffee shops, and restaurants Cortona has to offer. And I’ve included some truly drool-worthy food photos to get your cravings going!
Coffee, pastries, and breakfast
My morning coffee routine is paramount when I travel. I love getting up early, going for a run, and then grabbing coffee and pastries from a local place. In Cortona that first part was a bit tough (due to the 45-degree inclines and a knee injury), but I very much made my coffee and pastry ritual happen!
On my first couple days in Cortona I tried a few different places for my cappuccino and cornetto (or cappuccini and cornetti, because let’s face it, it was *always* multiple…).
And quickly settled into a routine at Bar Signorelli. It was definitely my favorite place to sit and sip my coffee, nibble on a pastry, and read my Kindle for a bit.
I enjoyed watching the locals come in for their quickly-downed coffee at the bar, and the owner and staff there were incredibly friendly and welcoming to me. It’s also a great place for a drink later in the day.
From a coffee and pastry standpoint, the next-best option would be Caffé Vittoria in my opinion, which is in the other small square nearby and looks out on the Teatro Signorelli,
If you just want a super quick espresso, the little cafe inside Teatro Signorelli is good too. Conversely, there’s a little pastry shop across from Bar Signorelli that’s good for cookies and bread and the like (though not good coffee from what I could see).
Caffé Tuscher often gets a mention here as well, and has great breakfast options too, but I’ll speak to it in the cocktails portion of our entertainment…
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For snacks, drinks, and more
As long as it’s not in the siesta time (from about 3p til 7p), there are tons of options for a drink and a nibble. Via Nazionale is kind of the “main drag” as far as simple Cortona restaurants are concerned…not most of the amazing ones, but good options for a snack or glass of wine.
The menu at Caffé Tuscher is pretty extensive, covering everything from coffee drinks and pastries to full meals to a ton of wine and cocktails. So no matter what you’re in the mood for, you can find it here. Even the sangria is good!
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I’m not going to restate all the things I said above about why I love this place, but I’ll add to it—the outside seating is perfect for people-watching, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the view of the iconic belltower.
Enoteca La Saletta
I stopped here for a drink and a snack a couple times, and it’s usually quite chill and not crowded. Enoteca La Saletta has a little bit of everything, from a decent wine list to a few good pastas to pastries and other snacks.
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There are two main gelato places that I loved, but you can’t really go wrong with any of the ones in Cortona.
Cafe at Fortezza Girifalco
The cafe in Fortezza Girifalco provided a nice option “outside” of town. After exploring the fortress, I sat and enjoyed a light lunch at the cafe, enjoying a gorgeous day outside. They had a really nice little menu, and I decided that bruschetta was in order. It was hard to choose, but I went with some pear, gorgonzola, and walnut along with a glass of the local Vernaccia wine.
No matter what time you’re coming here, it’s a great place for a snack or drink—and it would be an amazing place to watch the sunset!
There was also a cocktail bar called Tigelle e Cocktails…it was closed when we tried to go (on our last night), but I heard good things about it as more of a proper cocktail bar.
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My fave Cortona restaurants: lunch & dinner
There are so many good restaurants to try out, it’s hard to even know where to start. I ate at most of these for dinner, but many are also open for lunch.
One of my absolute favorite meals was actually the lunch I enjoyed at La Loggetta. First off, this view on a pretty day is not to be underestimated!
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This restaurant sits right on the main square, slightly overlooking it. This gives it an amazing view if you sit out on the patio, or in the one little tower room with a window.
I started with a daily special, burrata sposa l’orto. It literally means “burrata marries the vegetable garden”! That name kills me. It was cold cooked veggies and burrata and a little sauce, and I know that sounds weird but it was seriously delicious.
I also had a cheese flan with smoked salmon and roe, then a risotto with licorice and forest fruits. So unique!! I hadn’t planned on dessert, but was so intrigued by the tart with fig preserves and walnuts, that I couldn’t resist enjoying that with a lovely dessert wine.
Osteria del Teatro
On my first night in Cortona, I had dinner with some friends at Osteria del Teatro, which has a really cute bicycle and lots of plants and birdcages outside to draw you in.
We shared truffle fondue and a crisp Vermintino wine, and I had two delicious pasta dishes for my dinner. I couldn’t resist their take on tiramisu with some dessert wine either…and thus started my tradition of stuffing myself to the point of feeling ill every night 🙂
Another great option is Ristorante Preludio. Since I was only one person, they had this tiny little table for one set up some stairs that overlooked the restaurant, simultaneously private and yet part of the hustle. I loved my perch up there, and stuffed myself so much that I couldn’t even deal with the thought of dessert—the only time on this whole trip!
I particularly enjoyed the cheese souffle with pear compote and black truffle, and the schiaffoni (like ravioli) with soft cheese and truffle. I had a really interesting stuffed chestnut pasta with chicory, pecorino, and artichokes…a bit bitter but complex and still quite good. I also got to actually use mostly my Italian language skills with the waiter, which I loved.
La Bucaccia was another total winner, tucked down on one of the crazy steep little streets leading down toward the city walls. I gorged on an amazing cheese souffle (sformatino), some kind of chestnut ravioli with porcini, a perfectly-cooked steak, and a zuppa inglese dessert.
The cave-like ambiance inside the restaurant was so great. Even though I was stuffed to the point of acute discomfort, the owner insisted on me having some grappa before I left, as I was paying my bill. He was super friendly, and had found a way to squeeze me in for a reservation even though they were full.
This was so good! This restaurant and bar sits right at the end of Via Nazionale overlooking Piazza Garibaldi. While it has a patio for drinks, I ate down in the cave-like dining room and loved the ambiance and the interesting food options. I wouldn’t have guessed from the jammin’ patio upstairs that this cool cave was downstairs!
I had some kind of polenta cakes with ricotta topping and pickled red onions, followed by a cacio e pepe pasta with truffles. The dessert was some kind of panna cotta, almost like one of those Oreo dirt cakes?! Overall great service and great vibe.
This is one of the first restaurants I got a couple of local people recommending, so I had to make sure it was on the list. I had fried porcini that were delicious…I’m not a huge mushroom fan but these were so good!
I had their cacio e pepe pasta and a spinach and ricotta ravioli with truffle sauce. Good food, simple…not amazing, but definitely very good.
This cute little restaurant is known for the candles they keep burning and burning. The food was good, not mindblowing but definitely enough to be happy with.
This was one of the few places I found pesto on the menu, so I couldn’t resist giving it a try.
Trattoria Croce del Travaglio
Trattoria Croce del Travaglio was on my list to try for pizza specifically, but it wasn’t til my last night that I figured out 1) where it was for sure, and 2) found it open at the right time. It’s simple, no frills…I’m more partial to Naples-style Italian pizza vs. this very thin cracker-like crust, but after almost 10 days of super heavy meals this hit the spot.
I had a simple margherita, and then had a pear and walnut one for dessert with some of the omnipresent dessert wine.
So, 10+ pounds later I think I did the tiny town justice!! I regret nothing…basically every meal I ate at a Cortona restaurant was completely worth it.
Other city foodie adventures you’ll love:
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- Aberdeen, Scotland: Restaurants & Bars You Have To Try
- The Quest for the Best Old Fashioned in Louisville, Kentucky
- Feeling Hip(ster) in Portland’s Food & Beer Scene
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