The beautiful town of Arezzo lies close to the Umbrian border in southeastern Tuscany. Arezzo is a perfect choice for visitors seeking to avoid the excessive crowds of Siena and San Gimignano, as it lies slightly off the tourist track yet is just an hour away from Florence by train.
As well as being historically one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities, Arezzo was, and still is, one of Tuscany’s wealthiest towns. Evidence of this can be seen with the evocative ruined Medici fortress which sits atop the highest point of the town overlooking the countryside. While the pedestrianized Corso Italia, the main street leading to the old town’s central square Piazza Grande, houses expensive boutiques, bars, antique and jewellery stores.
However, as good as the shopping may be Arezzo really is a cultural paradise.
The centre of the town is awash with fabulous Renaissance and medieval architecture as well as boasting famous artworks and treasures. One of the drawcards is Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca’s celebrated frescoes ‘The Legend of the True Cross’. Piero decorated the Bacci Chapel of the Basilica di San Francesco with these frescoes between 1453 and 1466 and they are, arguably, the highlight of any visit to Arezzo.
Artworks aside, Arezzo has another cultural drawcard that makes it worth visiting. It was the home town of the Medici’s favourite architect Giorgio Vasari, who was so influential in designing many of Florence’s important buildings, including the Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio, Vasari Corridor and the Uffizi Gallery. His home, the Casa di Vasari, is now a museum and can be found on Via Venti Settembre near the Piazza San Domenico.
Still other important Arezzo cultural events include an antique fair that takes place on the first Sunday of the month and then the preceding Saturday. And also a medieval jousting tournament, Giostra del Saracino, which takes place in June and September.