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View of Cetona from below. You can see hilltop village and green bushes and trees in the village and on the hillside.

Cetona, Italy – A Local’s Guide To Cetona (+ Where to Eat!)

Last updated on November 27th, 2023

Are you on the fence about including Cetona on your next Itinerary to Tuscany? Maybe you are already here and wondering what to do and where to eat? 

No matter your reason, this guide will help you navigate Cetona, Italy in terms of activities, accommodations and  dining recommendations. I will also include all the essentials to make your trip easier while in Cetona, including information on grocery shopping, visiting with children and markets and festivals to watch out for. 

I have lived in the municipality of Cetona for over 10 years now and have come to learn the ins and outs of this idyllic Tuscan town like the back of my hand. I currently have two of my four children enrolled in the local kindergarten just outside the city center so I am always ‘downtown’ checking out what’s going on. 

For a true and authentic guide to Cetona, read on for my top travel advice and tips for visiting, including all of my Cetona restaurant recommendations! 

Where Is Cetona?

Close up of red and white sign with 'Uno dei Borghi più belli d'Italia - Cetona.'

Cetona is a small town located in the province of Siena in Southern Tuscany, at the border of Umbria and Lazio

When you think of a typical Tuscan hilltop town, Cetona checks all the boxes. It’s located just at the base of Monte Cetona, the largest mountain (in close range) overlooking the town, marked by a large cross at the top. 

Fact: Cetona is so quaint and picturesque that it belongs to the “Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” association. 

How To Get To Cetona

To arrive in Cetona Italy you do need a car. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Chiusi, which is the largest and closest town well connected to the Italian railway. In Chiusi you can easily rent a car and drive to Cetona. 

If you have rented a car elsewhere and are coming from the A1 highway going South, get off in Chiusi. After you pay the highway toll, turn right and follow the blue signs for Cetona.

If you are going North on the A1 from Rome, take the exit at Fabro, turn left after paying the toll and follow signs to Chiusi until you start to see signs for Cetona. 

Parking in Cetona

Blue parking sign in Italy.

Once you come to the town of Cetona, choose from one of the many designated parking lots marked with a large blue sign with a white “P”. Parking is free in Cetona but be sure to there no time limit to the lot that you choose. 

Limited time parking lots will be indicated as such with a little number under the large P of the parking sign. 

The largest parking lots are located outside the town walls of Cetona. There are a couple of spots right in front of the main square but they are often taken. 

Good To Know: You may not drive in the main piazza in Cetona and many of the roads within the town are limited to permitted cars only such as service vehicles and residents. Look for signs with written “zona traffico limitato” indicating no entry without permit. 

Best Time To Visit Cetona

View of lush green countryside in Tuscany. You can see green-covered mountain in background. In foreground is Italian home with roof covered in terracotta tiles.

The best time to visit Cetona is mid-season, meaning fall (September-end November) and spring (mid April-end of May). This time is the best to visit Cetona Italy because the crowds have gone down and the weather is much more mild.

Southern Tuscan summers can get quite warm so while the summer is also a beautiful time of year, some days in Cetona get up to 95-100 degrees. 

The colors surrounding the Cetona countryside are also much more lush and vibrant in the fall and spring. Summer heat makes the local crops and fields very dry and dusty.

My kids love playing in the big square while we sit and have coffee but in the summertime, we really can’t sit outdoors until after 7:00 pm when the temperature cools off.

What To Do In Cetona

Close up of stone fountain in an Italian piazza. You can see yellow buildings in the background.

Although Cetona is rather small, there is plenty to do. If you are using Cetona as your base to travel around Southern Tuscany, then you can chip away at activities over the course of your stay. 

If, on the other hand, you are specifically planning your Tuscany itinerary, plan on spending half a day in Cetona Italy with plans to have either lunch or dinner. 

Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi

Italian piazza with yellow buildings on either side. Sunny day with some puffy clouds. No one in the piazza, but you can see a few cars parked.

My family’s favorite way to spend time in Cetona is to leisurely walk around, peeking inside side streets and stopping at storefronts and viewpoints that catch our eye. 

The main square or FEMA for taglieri or cheese and meat boards and other local dishes, a Michelin Guide restaurant, an excellent pottery store, cafes and several other small shops. 

Start your visit here and make your way to the end of the square. Bar Sport is at the end, which is where you should stop for coffee (it’s much better than the other bar right in the middle of the square). 

Head up Via Roma and this will lead you straight to the residential area and other top attractions in Cetona. 

Civic Museum of the Prehistory of Mount Cetona

Glass cases display objects inside the Civic Museum in Cetona, Italy. You can see pots. Terracotta floor and white walls.

The Museo Civico per la Preistoria del Monte Cetona is a small yet fascinating museum with archeological artifacts documenting the settlement in and around Mount Cetona dating back to the Paleolithic time up to the Bronze Age. This is a great museum for kids and adults alike. 

To complete your visit, you should really also consider a visit to the Belverde Archeological Natural Park, about a 10 minute’s drive from Cetona. Visit the actual caves that were once inhabited by mankind. 

Wooden railings on sides of trails in forest in Tuscany. You can see a cave in the back through the trunks of trees.

CAPTION: Hidden deep in the shaded woods are the walkways up to the ancient caves in Cetona at the Belverde Archeological Natural Park

Perhaps even more fun for Children is the last piece of the puzzle, the Belverde Archeodrome, just down the road from the Natural Park. Here you will find life-size reproductions of how people lived including their huts. You can only visit these outdoor sites with a guided tour. 

We opted for the combined ticket when visiting them all but you can purchase individual tickets as well. Visit their website for more details on pricing and hours. 

La Rocca

Brown indication signs in Cetona, Italy. They point to historic and cultural monuments.

La Rocca, meaning “the rock”, is the fortress built to defend the town and is the oldest part of Cetona. Although privately owned since the 16th century, it still marks the most important part of the town. You can’t go inside but you can take the small, steep streets up towards the outside of the walls and enjoy a panoramic view of Monte Cetona and the surrounding countryside. 

Rocky wall with plant growth and a stone Madonna.

Continue up Via Roma from the end of the main square and follow the signs for La Rocca. At the top, you will find benches in a small shaded area with a statue of Mary. Continue following the small path around the left side of la Rocca. 

Wooden door in Italy. There are vines above the door and around the window that's to the left of the door.

There is actually not that much to see as it’s closed to the public but the hike up is the best way to see the actual local life in Cetona. My boys always love to admire the beautiful greenery and decorated doorsteps of the old nonne (grandmothers) of Cetona. 

Churches

Large wooden door at entrance to stone church in Italy. Stone steps lead up to the door.

There are several churches in Cetona if you want to go to mass.  At the base of Piazza Garibaldi you will find the Chiesa di San Michele Arcangelo, built in 1155. Other churches in Cetona are the Chiesa la Collegiata della San Trinita, Il Convento di San Francesco and Il Convento di Santa Maria a Belverde.

Where To Eat In Cetona

Cetona Italy restaurants and other eateries are plenty but here are our family’s favorites. 

Ristorante da Nilo

Dining area inside Ristorante da Nilo in Cetona. Booth seating and tables and chairs. White tablecloths on each tables, with napkins, silverware, and oil/vinegar bottles.

At the end of Piazza Garibaldi right next door to Bar Sport is Cetona’s fanciest and best restaurant. Ristorante da Nilo is a Michelin Guide Book pick and also a favorite among locals. 

We like to go here without our small kids (although everyone is welcome) because it’s a bit fancier. This white table cloth option has both an indoor and outdoor seating area with a menu that changes seasonally. 

Front entrance of Ristorante da Nilo in Cetona, Italy. Terracotta pots with bushes on either side of wooden door. Red Michelin sign on right.

Because it’s the most expensive restaurant in Cetona, we usually order an appetizer and a primo or secondo, not both. Their wine selection is extensive and the service is great. 

Pizza e Hamburger da Nilo

Sign hanging from Italian arch. It says Pizza e Hamburger da Nilo

Just off the main square in Cetona, don’t confuse this casual pizzeria with the fancier Ristorante da Nilo mentioned above. Although the real estate is owned by the same man, the management and ownership of the restaurant is completely different. 

This is where I come to eat with my kids if we are going out because it has something that everyone likes and it’s much more casual. There is a small covered terrace outdoors but it fills up quickly. 

While pizza and hamburgers are what make up the majority of the menu, they do offer other appetizers and folded pizzas as well. 

Tip: If you love beer, come here to eat because they have the best beer selection of any Cetona restaurant. 

Bar Sport

View inside a bar in Italy. Wooden tables and chairs and a sign on right for 'Caffè Sport' with a handwritten menu in Italian.

Bar Sport is at the end of Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi right next door to Ristorante da Nilo. They have both an indoor and outdoor seating area and offer light lunches in addition to their homemade gelato and coffee bar. 

We have always preferred this bar to the other bar on the square although the outdoor seating area isn’t quite as central. The other main bar in Cetona is right in the center of the main square but it’s just not very good. If you are getting a coffee, it doesn’t matter much but if service, atmosphere and selection is important to you, choose Bar Sport. 

FEMA Pizzicheria 

Inside a deli in Italy. Legs of prosciutto hanging from the back wall, fresh cheeses in glass display in foreground.

Located right on the main square, this is not exactly a restaurant but more of a deli that offers casual lunch and dinner options. You can always sit down and get some kind of cheese or charcuterie board but you will also find local specialties such as polpette (meatballs) or verdure di stagione (local vegetables). If it’s too cold to eat outdoors, they have a small indoor area as well.

This is another place my husband and I like to come for an aperitivo or glass of wine before dinner. It’s right on the square and the kids can run freely.  

Close up of Italian charcuterie board - called a tagliere - with cured meats, sliced cheeses, and bread with toppings.

I also do a lot of grocery shopping here because most of what they stock is made locally. The bread and cakes come from just down the way in Ponticelli, the wine and olive oil is made next door and the cheese is from the next town over in Pienza. Even the pasta they stock is locally produced, making it a great place to pick up small food souvenirs or gifts.

Cantina La Frasca Di Pimpolari Loretana

Front entrance of Cantina la Frasca in Cetona, Italy. You can see food and wine products inside on display shelves and in baskets.

Cantina La Frasca is where you want to go for a spot a little off the beaten path and in the shade. We go here when we find the main square overly crowded. Just up Via Roma towards the Civic Museum and Town Hall, you will find Cantina La Frasca on your left. 

Choose a table either indoors or outdoors and relax with a good glass of locally made wine and a cheese or charcuterie board made right in front of your eyes. 

Here you can also buy a selection of local specialties including pecorino cheese, jams and of course, wine! 

Learn More: Read more about Where to Drink Wine in Italy and Where to Buy Wine in Italy.

Where To Stay In Cetona

Yellow Italian building at top of moss-covered stone steps. Trees on either side and potted plants decorate the entrance.

Because Cetona is surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in all of Tuscany, I suggest you stay in one of the many agritourisms or farm houses just outside of the small town. This way you can enjoy exploring Cetona and relax pool-side after visiting Cetona.

There are several farm houses located just outside the city, just a mere 10 minutes drive from Cetona. If you are looking for a more exclusive experience in a farmhouse or argitourism, check out Camporsevoli, offering various apartments and independent villas. Closer to Cetona, book at Farmhouse Palazzo Bello or Farmhouse Chienteno, all of which have pools. 

For a stay actually in the center of Cetona, I recommend La Locanda di Anita, located right above the main square at the start of Via Roma. The price is right and the rooms are elegantly decorated in the traditional Tuscan fashion. 

Other Important Tips For Visiting Cetona Italy 

Tourist Office In Cetona

Sign for tourist office that lists hours. Background is stone building.

The tourist office, located within the Civic Museum, is open Tuesday-Sunday 10:00-1:00 pm and again at 4:00-7:00 pm. Stop in for specific information on history, tours and further insights on your visit to Cetona. 

Grocery Shopping In Cetona

Hand holding bread in front of a bakery in Italy.

If you are looking for a grocery store in Cetona, head to Carrefour Express in Via Martiri della Libertà. Hang a left after exiting the main square of Cetona and it’s on your left after about 100 meters. This is a small but well stocked grocery store

For smaller, independent stores, stick to Piazza Giuseppe Garibaldi where you will find everything you need. The forno or bakery makes great pizza by the slice and has a wide selection of baked goods. There is a small fruit and vegetable store, a butcher and a FEMA pizzicheria (deli), well stocked with local specialties and brands. 

Good To Know: On Thursdays around 10:30, the fish truck pulls up in the main square to sell fresh fish. It’s the best fish I have purchased in the area! 

Markets in Cetona

side view of several baskets with fresh produce at an open air market with cabbages, eggplant and red crates with peaches in second row

The weekly market is held on Saturday morning every weekend in Cetona. Here you will find primarily fruits and vegetable stands but there are also vendors selling home goods, plants, clothes, etc. 

Pharmacy in Cetona

The pharmacy in Cetona is located outside the city walls. As you exit down from the main square, take a right hand turn onto Via Risorgimento. Just down the street the pharmacy will be on your right hand side. 

Cetona With Children

Colorful toys at an Italian playground. Ground is full of green grass and there is a forest in the background. Bench on left.

Cetona is a great town to visit with children primarily because of its size. It’s tiny and the traffic is limited to only permitted vehicles. 

I don’t have to worry about cars in the main piazza if my kids are running around and even when we are walking on the side streets, the few cars I cross paths with go slowly because of how narrow everything is. 

The only downside to Cetona with small kids are the steep small streets to arrive up to la Rocca. It gets very steep at certain points and I certainly didn’t want to push my stroller up there. It’s short though and Cetona is small so if you have small kids, it’s not very far in terms of finding the right balance between carrying them and having them walk a little. 

side view of indoor Pippo's ceramic studio from indoors with large table and shelving in background with various pots to paint with colors everywhere.
Pippo’s ceramic shop in Cetona offers various pottery and ceramic classes for both children and adults.

Just outside of the town walls there is a small park for kids. It’s not large and a lot of it is in the sun but it’s enough space for kids to get their energy out. You can either drive or walk the 200 meters down the road after exiting the main square in Cetona and taking a left hand turn onto Via Martiri della Libertà.

Be sure to plan a visit to the Archeological site just outside of Cetona with kids and eat at Pizza e Hamburger da Nilo. 

Souvenirs From Cetona

hand holding up a large hand painted ceramic spoon rest in front of a pottery shop outdoors in cetona with yellow walls
The hand painted spoon rest that I purchased at Pippo’s ceramic shop in Cetona

The absolute best souvenir you can get from Cetona is from Pippo’s ceramic shop. He and his son have been in business for decades now, churning out some of the most beautiful and authentic hand-painted pottery in the whole region.

The first section of the store is dedicated to Pippo’s son who specializes in modern ceramic design while the bottom half of the showroom is full of all the classic ceramic patterns you could hope to find in Southern Tuscany. 

If you have lots of space, opt for something larger such as a set of mugs but if you are worried about weight, stick to something small like a spoon rest.  

Orange building wall on left with sign pointing ahead toward Artigianato Alimentare.

Tip: Look for signs indicating artigianale, meaning “artisan-made” and you are sure to bring something special home like homemade jams, spreads and other locally produced goods.

Fairs and Festivals In Cetona

Cetona is also home to various fairs and festivals so keep your eyes peeled for the following:

  • Cetona in Fiore – a colorful flower and plant fair at the end of April every year brings Italians and tourists from far and wide. You can find just about anything that will grow well in the surrounding area as well as plenty of local food stalls and activities for the whole family. 
  • La Corsa delle Brocche – The Ceramic Pitcher Race between the three neighborhoods of Cetona in which participants race to carry various pitchers of water from point to point within Piazza Garibaldi without spilling a drop. These ancient games are quite silly but fun to take part in if you happen upon it at the end of July or beginning of August. 
  • Sagra del Pastrignocchi – A food festival held at the beginning of June celebrating a local handmade pasta, similar to a flat spaghetti. Sagras are one of my favorite ways to eat like the locals in Italy. 

To learn more about eating in Italy, read A Visitor’s Guide To Eating In Italy – Italian Food Etiquette 101 (How To Order + My Tips).

Other Towns To Visit While In Cetona

View of Montepulciano in the distance. Green and golden countryside.

There is so much to see around Cetona and because it’s so small, it’s easy to visit other nearby small Tuscan villages either on the same day or over the course of a few days. 

These are my family’s favorite towns close to Cetona:

  • San Casciano dei Bagni (15 minute drive)
  • Sarteano (15 minute drive)
  • Radicofani (30 minute drive)
  • Montepulciano (40 minute drive)
  • Città della Pieve, Umbria (20 minute drive)

Cetona Italy FAQ

Is Cetona worth a visit?

Cetona is absolutely worth a visit. It is, afterall, part of the “Most Beautiful Villages of Italy” association. Its prime location is ideal for visiting other idyllic hilltop towns in Southern Tuscany such as San Casciano dei Bagni, Sarteano, Radicofani, Montepulciano and even Città della Pieve in Umbria. The food is authentic, the people are friendly and the sweeping views of Monte Cetona make Cetona worth a visit no matter how much time you choose to spend here! 

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