When visiting a place in Italy, we often make notes of places to see and things to do, yet to get more out of your visit, take time to meet the local people who are heart and soul of the place.
So we’re delighted to have Julian Palmer and Greta Lupetti, lifelong residents of Cortona in Tuscany, introduce us to 7 families that will make the visit to the town even more memorable.
7 Local Families Who Will Make Your Visit to Cortona, Tuscany Even More Memorable
1. Family name: Vannelli
Name of shop: Pasticceria Vannelli
Vanneli’s pastry shop in Camucia is the go-to breakfast room for the locals.
Luciano and his daughter Viola work together backstage making pastries and all sorts of custom art cakes.
The other two children, Pietro and Giacomo manage the front bar, entertaining clients with latte art shows as they serve breakfast. The Vannelli brothers are both world class cappuccino freestylers and they also produce and sell a top-notch home made espresso coffee using their special machineries right from the main bar.
The top seller at “Pasticceria Vannelli” is definitely the “Meringa”, a simple cookie with baked egg whites and a whipped cream stuffing.
The Vannellis also give private espresso and cappuccino demonstrations in their countryside Villa by request.
2. Family name: Baracchi
Name of shop: Bottega Baracchi
As you make your way out of the main Boulevard of “Via Nazionale”, you might get drawn into a very intriguing shop besides a beautiful outdoor wooden patio.
Head inside, and you’re suddenly enchanted by the unmistakable atmosphere of the “Bottega Baracchi”, which perfectly reflects the charm of its majestic “Relais Il Falconiere”, a gorgeous resort at the foot of Cortona.
This is where the Baracchi family have produced high end wines and liquors for more than a decade. Silvia is a talented Chef with a remarkable attention to details and her husband Riccardo is a gifted hunter and wine maker. Anything they touch turns into gold and the “Bottega Baracchi” is no exception.
On the street level is the fancy bar , where one can enjoy wonderful ”Aperitivos” and on the lower levels, is a “food boutique” and dining room, where all sorts of wonderful produce are displayed in market style.
Silvia’s son, Benedetto, is the manager of the Bottega and he will be delighted to share with you his family story as you taste their best red wines , like the “Smeriglio” or the “Ardito”.
3. Family name: Fratini
Name of shop: Alessandro Fratini Hair Stylist
In the citadel of Cortona, via Nazionale, a.k.a “Rugapiana”, has always been the center of trade throughout history, with the presence local merchants and vendors over the centuries. The Fratini’s hair salon is in fact one of the oldest shops you’ll find along the “Rugapiana” street and one to truly admire.
It’s been handed down from father to son for the past 4 generations and today, the shop bears the name of the youngest grandson, Alessandro Fratini, who took over the family business after 15 years of experience, working side by side with the top hair stylists in London, UK.
Alessandro is a fascinating character and a very friendly host. Before beginning the hair cut he literally consults with the client over an espresso coffee, making sure the final hair style is perfectly tailored to the client’s request.
But the real icing on the cake is the SPA Center above the salon, where Alessandro’s clients can enjoy all sorts of beauty treatments , under the friendly staff’s care.
So here’s a tip: if you need a break from your sightseeing in Cortona, AF Fratini is your go-to shop.
4. Family name: Botanici
Name of shop: Il Pozzo Gift Shop
As you explore the main boulevard in Cortona, at some point you might be browsing through a postcard stand at the front of a tobacco store.
As you step inside, what you see before your eyes isn’t just an ordinary Italian “tabacchino”, selling cigarettes and gums , instead, what you find is a totally unexpected art gallery.
This is the “Il Pozzo” gift-shop, set up by the “Botanici” family who will be taking you on a journey throughout their beautifully restored dungeon, filled with all sorts of unique handicrafts, paintings, watercolors, leather goods and items made of wax.
It was built and designed literally on the go, by Ivan and his son Thomas while they where carrying on with excavations underneath their tobacco store in the early 2000.
They have an amazing story to tell and Ivan enjoys giving tours and wax shows, starting from the most amazing piece of discovery: an underground Etruscan Well.
5. Family name: Lupetti
Name of shop: Pizzeria Il Vallone
The pizzeria owned by the Lupetti family sits at the foot of Cortona, near the village of Camucia and in the local tradition, it’s the go-to place when it comes to pizza.
Ivano and Ivana who carry the same name, are the legendary brother and sister team, who have worked together since teenagers.
Ivano manages the dining room with his son Jacopo and Ivana is the one who makes the magic happen behind the wooden fire oven.
They started out in the 50s as a “panini” point and grocery store and later on, as pizza started to take off nationally, the Lupetti grandfathers decided to introduce the produce in their shop and open up a pizzeria.
By request, Jacopo, the grandson, takes private groups behind the scenes for an exclusive pizza workshop.
6. Family name: Molesini
Name of shop: ”Enoteca Molesini”
In the main square of the citadel, where a majestic clock tower lashes out at the sky, a tiny yellow truck lends itself to unload water and wine supplies in front of a charming little grocery store.
It’s nothing less than the mythical “Minimarket Molesini”, since 1937 , the number one choice for the villagers of Cortona.
In it, the grandparents all the way to the grandchildren, work together daily to ensure the highest level of quality with a constant restock of the freshest regional produce, ranging from pecorino cheese, to all kinds of cold cuts (affettati) and breads.
But more than anything, Molesini means good wine. Marco and Paolo proudly run the family wine shop on the other side of the square, called “Enoteca Molesini”, a real wine heaven where small groups can enjoy free wine tastings.
In spring and summer, Marco and Paolo, together with the “Del Brenna” jewellery host an exclusive experience called “Wine, Dine & Shine”. The event takes place every Thursday night and it is definitely something to look forward to when visiting Cortona.
7. Family name: Castelli
Name of shop: ”Trattoria Dardano”
Along the “Via Dardano” lane, past a giant wooden gate, there lies the “Trattoria Dardano”, one of the oldest taverns in Cortona.
What really sets their menu apart is for sure the “homemade feel” of the dishes. The food you eat at the Castelli’s “trattoria” is the same as what the average local will find at their grandmothers’ table for Sunday lunch.
Down to earth dishes like the roasted chicken (pollo arrosto), rabbit (coniglio), the simple but delicious spaghetti with tomato sauce (spaghetti al pomodoro) or even the mythical “stracciatella”, a simple egg broth with black pepper and Parmesan cheese on top, will literally give your palates an opportunity to experience the typical Tuscan dining.
The Castelli’s specialties are definitely their “porcini fritti” side dish and their “cinghiale” stew, a slow-cooked local wild boar speciality.
Paolo Castelli , the manager is a very friendly person and his motto is “water makes you rusty!”; so, if you want to really tune in with Trattoria Dardano’s philosophy, make sure you order a nice carafe of red wine along with your dinner!
Authors’ Bio: Julian Palmer and Greta Lupetti are lifelong residents of Cortona, Tuscany and Tuscany Travel Specialists. They love to go after the hidden gems with the intention of making every guest’s experience a memorable one. Julian and Greta are also the founders of Redbriks – “Itinerary First Aid”, where they offer 2 exclusive experiences for you to enjoy based on their knowledge of off-beaten areas. Get the full scoop here > redbriks.com/lifetime-experiences