For years, both residents and travelers found solace in the convenience of Molesini’s, a beloved supermarket anchoring the bustling Piazza della Repubblica. But as January approaches, a shadow of sorrow looms over this quaint corner of Tuscany, as the iconic Molesini grocery store prepares to close its doors for the last time.

For Cortona’s tight-knit community, the news came as a thunderclap on a sunny day. Yet, amidst the disbelief, there was an undeniable air of nostalgia, as patrons recalled fond memories of aisles filled with fresh produce, shelves stacked high with regional wines, and the welcoming faces of the Molesini family, who had lovingly served the community since 1937.

Giovanni Molesini, the founding patriarch, embarked on a journey from Verona with his brothers, bringing with them a vision that would forever change the culinary landscape of the Valdichiana region. They opened three small grocery stores and a bakery, introducing the concept of salted bread and pioneering the idea of sandwiches—a novelty in those days.

Giovanni Molesini the founder

As years gave way to decades, the modest grocery stores evolved into something much more significant. Under the stewardship of Giovanni’s son, Giuliano, and his wife, Antonietta, the family store grew into a haven for locals and a vital resource for tourists. Here, the community found fresh, affordable produce in abundance—a testament to the family’s unwavering commitment to their town. Even as Cortona evolved, the Molesinis held their ground, remaining at the heart of the city and building a reputation that extended far beyond its walls.

The story of Molesini’s success continued with the entry of Giuliano’s sons, Marco and Paolo, who expanded the family business. Their wine emporium became a go-to destination for oenophiles across central Italy, offering a dazzling array of wines from all corners of the nation.

In 2010, Giuliano Molesini’s dedication was recognized with the title of “Maestro del Commercio” and the prestigious “Aquila di Diamante” award—a fitting tribute to his over half a century of service in the retail sector. To many, he was more than just a businessman; he was a pillar of the community, a man who embodied positivity and generosity.

As the final chapter of the Molesini’s story unfolds, Cortona residents are left with a somber question: Where will they shop for their daily needs? With Molesini’s closure, only one smaller supermarket remains in town, and it is ill-equipped to serve the entire population, let alone the massive influx of tourists that Cortona enjoys.

According to official ISTAT data, Cortona ranks as the top destination for tourist arrivals in the entire province of Arezzo. In 2022 alone, the town saw an impressive 53,000 check-ins, with 30,000 of them originating from foreign visitors. Furthermore, visitor numbers have steadily risen, with 2022 boasting a record-breaking 200,000 visitors compared to the 128,000 recorded in 2021.

It is difficult to fathom that in the immediate future, new entrepreneurs will muster the will, dedication, and passion required to fill the considerable void left by Molesini’s closure. As the town’s business landscape trends towards the hospitality and tourism sectors, the prospect of launching a supermarket becomes increasingly daunting.

Perhaps, as Molesini’s shutters fall to rest and another fast-food tourist haunt takes its place, the town’s residents and local authorities will realize the paramount importance of maintaining essential services like a neighborhood grocery store—particularly in a town of such historical and cultural significance.

As we bid farewell to Molesini’s, we mourn not only the end of a grocery store but also the end of an era—an era marked by tradition, family values, and a steadfast commitment to community. The memories and legacy of this beloved institution will forever linger in the hearts of Cortona’s residents, reminding them of the preciousness of their town’s history, identity, and sense of togetherness.

In any case, the people of Cortona extend their heartfelt thanks to the entire Molesini family, who have nourished and delighted generations with their dedication and expertise. You will be greatly missed!

By S.M