After the book and the movie “Under The Tuscan Sun”, everybody knows the suggestive town of Cortona, wrapped by the ancient surraundingwall, where we can still find palaces and buildings from Medioeval and Reinassance age till the XVIII century and where the atmosphere is so real that we are transposed in that age; but there are only a few visitors that take the time to visit the Celle Hermitage: a real special and mistic place just 5 minutes by car or 20 minutes walk from the city center.

View on the Val di Chiana and the Trasimeno Lake

The Trasimeno Lake from Cortona

The Convent is clinged up to the stoned wall of the mountain Sant’Egidio, the visitor will find it, involved with a huge, fresh wood, crossing an ancient bridge.
St. Francis from Assisi (San Francesco d’Assisi – in Italian) itself would will that in this place, where before lived only some hermits and some shepherds, a community of Francescans Monks would established. It was the third Francescans Community, the first outside Assisi.

At the beginning the Community built a few cells around an old Longobarde church, but in a few years lots of more cells were built. The nowadays aspect that Le Celle has is due to another friar order: the Cappuccini, that established there in 1528. They restored and expand the convent and rebuilt a new church and a new bridge to cross the river.
I prefeir to use photos instead of words to show this marvellous corner of Tuscany:

Cells of the Celle Convent - st Francis

Cells of the Celle Convent - st Francis

You can easily visit this mistic place by yourself just asking how to reach it at the Cortona tourist office. If you want a guided tour: you can join my trek group on Sunday the 1 of August (2010) for a 5 hour long hike. We reach Cortona from Florence by trains – but you can reach the starting point by car or whatever – and then walking around the wood that “wrapped” Cortona, reaching Sant’Egidio mountain, the Celle and last but not least the Etruscan archeological area called “Meloni”. If you loose the date, or you are not interested in a long hike, you can ask me and Discovery Chianti for a tailor made guided tour.

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