The human settlement in Rasina's site dates back to at least the Etruscan period and so before the Roman conquest. The toponym “Rasina” itself is an evidence of the Etruscan presence in the past: “Rassena” is how the Etruscan people called themselves.
Passignano views from Trasimeno LakeCortona was as a matter of facts an Etruscan city-state (lucumonia). Several artistic and architectural examples are left to us: tombs, tools, civil buildings, writings (the most famous ones are the “tavole cortonensis” - the Cortona tablets - kept in the beautiful Etruscan museum of Cortona), all situated a few kilometers away from Rasina.
Nevertheless, the historical event that, above all, made the area famous was certainly the Battle of Lake Trasimeno, which occurred in April 217 BC during the second Punic War between the Roman and the Carthaginian armies. It took place at the beginning of the Val d'Esse, exactly at the foot of that cone-shaped hill that you can easily see on the left side of the valley. The battle was very violent and bloody: there were also a few elephant, but the Carthaginian decisive move (led by Hannibal) was, according to the reports of the time, the “surprise effect” that shattered the Roman army into pieces, unable to offer effective resistance.
The death toll reached 15.000 only among the Romans, including Consul Commander Flaminio.
Some of the town names in the valley remind the event: near here you will find Ossaia (heap of bones), Sanguineto (field of blood) and Sepoltaglia (burying place).
The Romans that survived the conflict were only a few thousands and fled rapidly towards the Val Tiberina. While escaping they certainly passed a few metres away from Rasina, probably on the same path that, two centuries later, during the Roman Imperial Age, was turned into a stone-paved road (strada basolata).
Val di Chiana seen by Leonardo da VinciIt is curious to think that the Etruscan inhabitants living in Rasina were spectators and witnesses of those events. Among the other historical events it's worth reminding that in the medieval ages Cortona was a free town and that, in the centuries preceding the Italian unification, Rasina was a border land between the Granducato di Toscana and the State of the Church: significant is the name “Dogana” (customs), which is used to call the little town next to Pergo.
We also have to remember that Val di Chiana has been for centuries a basin in which waterways couldn't find a way to a larger river because there was no slope. Therefore the valley was a large swamp, not cultivable and infested by mosquitos that brought malaria.
In 1502, Leonardo da Vinci represents the zone in a bird's-eye view map and the swamp is clearly visible. This situation lasted until the end of the 18th century when the building of many canals linked to the Arno river allowed the drainage and, together with the building of plenty of rural houses (named “leopoldine” from the name of the grand duke Lepoldo who was reigning at the time), also a new rich agriculture.
Cortona is also the town of some big artists such as: Pietro da Cortona, Luca Signorelli and Gino Severini. Cortona is also the town of Saint Margaret.