Lisciano Niccone is the western-most town in the Upper Tiber Valley and the most distant from Città di Castello (about 35 km). Being so close to Cortona (the town of Luca Signorelli), it was more influenced by that Tuscan town than by Perugia, the capital city of Umbria.
Its location in the midst of the Upper Tiber Valley, the Chiana Valley and Lake Trasimene makes its dialect unique. The original settlement in the area was prehistoric and later inhabited by the Etruscans. We are certain of this due to the presence of a hypogeum (Etruscan chamber tomb) in Villa Sagraia and the walled village of Bellona that sits atop Mount Murlo. During the Middle Ages, its strategic position between Tuscany and Umbria led to the building of numerous castles, such as those in Lisciano, Fiume, Reschio, Pierle, Danciano, Pugnano and Sorbello, the remains of the latter can still be seen today. They were all constructed with the purpose of controlling this important communications network. Many historical, cultural, religious and architectural remnants have remained in these places. The beautiful hills of the Upper Tiber and Niccone Valleys are a splendid backdrop for fortresses, castles, churches, abbeys and medieval villages, which are charming destinations along for any tourist itinerary.
Cortona is in the province of Arezzo and is the first Tuscan town you encounter when crossing the western border of the Upper Tiber Valley. It is famous for having been an important Etruscan town.
Remaining visible from this illustrious period are the fortified walls dating back to the 6th-century BCE that extend for about two kilometres.
The historic centre, as is appears today, was built in the 13th century: the Town Hall was standing by 1241; the Church of St. Francis was built in 1245; and the Palazzo del Popolo (People’s Palace) was constructed in 1250.
In 1456, construction work began on a new cathedral on the site of the ancient, rural Church of St. Mary. While in 1480, the architect Francesco di Giorgio Martini from Siena began constructing the Sanctuary of Madonna of the Graces in the hamlet of Calcinaio.
Cortona has many works of art and museums including the Etruscan Academy Museum and the Diocesan Museum, the latter houses such treasures such as an “Annunciation” by Beato Angelico, a “Madonna in Glory” by Bartolomeo della Gatta and a “Deposition” by Luca Signorelli. Not to be missed are the Archaeological Park, the Medici Fortress of Girifalco and the Farneta Abbey.