Etruscan Enchantment

Cortona encloses all the best expectations that a traveller has on Tuscany. It is an ancient hamlet, well preserved, situated on top of a hill that overlooks a green valley with a glimpse on Trasimeno Lake. Good food and excellent wine are the best way for rediscovering traditions and history that the imposing limestone walls have kept within for centuries.

Famous people and international tourists continue to choose Cortona along with Florence and Siena, as an important destination in their journey, so that once they return home they can really say that they’ve been to Tuscany.

A great Etruscan center with a restricted aristocratic class, self conscious of its regal role and of its own authority, as the imposing mound tombs evidence, it has also been a pearl of Humanism and of Renaissance and it has given birth to such painters as Luca Signorelli and Pietro Berrettini, better known as “Il Cortona”.

In 1727 the Etruscan Academy was founded in Cortona by three brothers, Marcello, Filippo and Ridolfino Venuti. It's been the first scientific institution in Europe that has dealt with the study and the rediscovering of this population by founding a museum that houses precious art works as the Etruscan chandelier and that since 2005 has doubled itself and has become the Museum of the Etruscan Academy and of the City of Cortona (MAEC).

The cultural prestige of the small town and the remarkable archeological findings, became known throughout Europe in the 1700s and attracted artists, benefactors and aristocratic offspring especially English, who chose Cortona as one of the destinations of their Grand Tour, as evidenced by several travel diaries.

The MAEC will narrate in the exhibit Etruscan Seduction. From the Secrets of Holkman Hall to the Wonders of the British Museum (March 22th > July 31st, 2014) the secular contribution of the Anglo-Saxon people to the rediscovering of the Etruscan population, thanks to their strong attraction for Tuscany.

At the beginning, the exhibit deals with the Grand Tour of Thomas Cooke and how he was seduced by the magnificent Etruscan findings, that he came into contact with during his journey, exhibited in galleries and private collections of the time, especially in Florence and Rome.

At the end of his educational experience in Italy, he decided to finance, in 1726, the publication of the manuscript De Etruria Regali by Dempster, who a century earlier had been the first to narrate the history of the Etruscan people, enriching the text with updates and tables and creating the first “handbook of Etruscology” ante litteram, that held the summa of the knowledge of Etruscan Archeology at the time.

The origin of the exhibit has been the recent finding of the preparatory drawings and copper plates used for the printing of the De Etruria Regali, that has induced the management of the MAEC to get in touch with Holkham Hall, the noble mansion built by Thomas Coke, where still now the original manuscript by Dempster is preserved and with the British Museum, that houses one of the most complete collections of Etruscan findings in the world.

In the exhibit, set up inside MAEC’s exhibition areas, in Palazzo Casali, 50 pieces, consisting of drawings and paintings, lent by Holkham Hall, 60 extraordinary Etruscan findings conceded for the first time by the British Museum and coming from Cortona, Arezzo e Falterona, Prato, Chiusi, Perugia, Orvieto, Bolsena and Vulci; and finally 40 Etruscan art works from Italian Istitutes and Museums, among which the Haranguer from the National Archeological Museum of Florence and the Putto Graziani from the Vatican Museums will be exhibited.

So from March 21st to July 31st, 2014 it will be possible to plunge in the cultural tourism of the 1700s, enjoying a cultural unrepeatable event that can be combined with excursions to the archeological park and to rediscovering an uncontaminated landscape and all the wine and food delights, that now as in the past make whoever comes to the Tuscan town, experience again the Grand Tour.