The Baldelli Palace, between the Dark Ages and Renaissance
The Baldelli Palace, site of Hotel San Michele, is a concentration of Cortonese history. In the XI century, right where the hotel is now located, there used to be part of the defensive walls of Cortona. In the XII century the building became the mansion of the Marquis del Monte S. Maria and in 1206 it became a public building; where the “Podestà” would hold trials and issue sentences.
The mansion of the Marquis del Monte, appears to have been rectangular with towers and walls at the perimeter. It became the building we know now through a restoration in the XV century and a further restoration in the XVI century, both made by the Baldelli family after it had been given to them as a present by the Florentine Republic, around the year 1410. Although a number of upgrades and further small restorations have been made in the XVIII century, the building remains essentially a XVI century palace. This is clearly visible in the facade. In the XVIII century, at the first floor, the Etruscan Academy used to hold its meetings, to study the Etruscan heritage of Cortona.
Old treasures to discover at Hotel San Michele
In a hidden place, inside Hotel San Michele in Cortona, there is a fresco of Madonna with baby Jesus sitting on a throne and surrounded by four saints, which is believed to have been made by the painter Bicci di Lorenzo. The fresco, “forgotten” by the guides still awaits an official recognition but there are elements to confirm a very strong influence of the famous painter Masaccio. The first saint on the left is Saint Michael Arcangel, the old patron of Cortona, prior to 1261 when the new patron became Saint Marc. In fact on April 25th, 1261, the Ghibellines of Cortona, previously defeated by the Guelfs and sent in exile for 2 years, took Cortona back with the help of Siena under the command of Uguccio Casali.