Although it may not appear so at first glance, Arezzo is a cultural heavyweight even by Italian standards. Located in central Italy within the province of Tuscany, this compact city is acutely aware of its history and every corner provides an insight into a bygone era.

Cited by Livy as one of the most important cities in the pre-Roman Etruscan period, it was taken over by Rome in 311 BC and later flourished as Arretium Vetus (‘Old Arretium’) due to its craftwork. Indeed, during the Augustan period Arezzo was the third largest city in Italy.

Despite its affiliation to Rome, the city showed its local pride after the Empire fell. After the invasion of the Lombards and a period of occupation, Arezzo established itself as an independent city-state from the 11th century and remained so until finally yielding to Florence in 1384.

However, the city’s reputation as an artistic hub was well earnt and continued thereafter. Home of the so-called 'father of the Renaissance', Petrarch, and workplace of the great painter Piero della Francesca, Arezzo was one of the most significant cultural centres in Italy alongside Florence and remains so to this day.


Arezzo’s centre revolves around the Piazza Grande, the main medieval square which adjoins the upper part of the city (hence the slant). Within can be found the 14th century Gothic and Renaissance styled Palace of the Lay Fraternity, the Bishopric Palace and the remains of the old Communal Palace.

The churches of Arezzo serve a dual purpose, being both active religious institutions and repositories of hugely important art works. The 13th century Cathedral of S. Donata is a perfect example, wherein can be found the Madeleine fresco by Piero della Francesca and the tomb of Pope Gregory X. Elsewhere, the Church of S. Francesco provides an insight into Tuscan-Gothic architecture and contains the marvellous History Of The True Cross cycle by della Francesca.

The artist Giorgio Vasari worked and resided in Arezzo during the 16th century (he was responsible for the Mannerist-tinged Badra si SS. Flora e Lucilla church). His former abode on the Via XX Settembre has since been turned into a museum, containing his frescos, a selection of Mannerist paintings, and letters from men such as Michelangelo.

Arezzo also has a more traditional Museum of Medieval and Modern Art on the Via San Lorentino, the Gaio Cilnio Mecenate Archeological Museum on the Via Margaritone (with a fabulous selection of Roman and prehistoric artefacts), and the Casa Museo Ivan Bruschi on the Corso Italia (with antiquities from ancient Egypt to the modern period).

Festivals run throughout the year, with the most impressive being the medieval 'Joust Of The Saracens'. Held annually, 'knights' on horseback representing different areas of the city take turns charging at a wooden target attached to a carving of a Saracen king. This is accompanied by various pageants and general revelry.

Music fans will be interested in the June Arezzo Wave festival. Launched in 1987, past artists include Sonic Youth, Moby and Tricky.

Anyone interested in seeing some football should look out for the Stadio Comunale, home of AC Arezzo (recently promoted to Serie B).


The Palazzo Vagnotti is a common hosting area for markets, with a regular antiques fair on the first Sunday of the month and a much larger one in late August and early September. For local goods like terracotta pots and jewellery, try the Piazza Grande.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Arezzo has a number of gelaterie, pizzerias and restaurants. Tuscan cuisine is very much the order of the day, meaning a great selection of interesting pasta dishes (try the pici, it’s fabulous). Al Feudo Ghibellino on the Via Tolletta is recommended.

Tourist Information

APT Tourist OfficePiazza della Repubblica, 2852100ArezzoTel: +39 (0)575 377 678E-mail:


Arezzo can be reached by flying to Milan, Florence or Rome. However, Galileo Galilei (Pisa) Airport, is recommended for the sake of distance. Taxis and buses are both available, while trains will also cut down the travel time to Arezzo proper.

International and domestic connecting flights are available from Pisa. Ryanair runs from London Stansted, Liverpool and Glasgow, while British Airways and Meridiana operate out of London Gatwick.

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