- City of gold
- City of Christmas
- City of art and culture
- City of Monuments
- Many parks and gardens
Arezzo can easily be visited in a single day: it is divided into two parts, the upper one which houses some of the most distinguished and elegant historic buildings, squares, and main monuments of the city, and the lower one characterized, instead, by several modern shops and boutiques, fashionable, a more lively and active context, in short, more international and youthful.
Il Duomo di Arezzo
The Duomo is said to have been built on the ruins of one of Arezzo’s earliest Christian churches ⛪. Thanks to its dominant position, you can see for kilometers from the surrounding countryside, with the spire of the tower as a distinctive and unmistakable sign.
The building, located at the top of a stone staircase, was built in the early 1300s but, due to an ever-changing economic situation, it was not finished until the mid-1500s.
Inside the church, the history of the city is preserved, including several monuments that demonstrate the population’s attachment to the Virgin Mary, as well as numerous works of art by famous artists such as Piero della Francesca and Guillaume de Marcillat.
La Fortezza Medicea
Continuing along the external wall of the church, you will find yourself in one of the many green areas of Arezzo, dominated by an imposing statue dedicated to Petrarca. The park, in French style, offers a suggestive panoramic view over the Casentino valley, the surrounding vineyards, olive groves and the sinuous residential landscape 🌆.
The Medici Fortress was built in the shape of a five-pointed star at the behest of Cosimo I De’ Medici, to give greater vigor to the Florentine dominion over the city.
The stones to build the fortress were extracted from the Roman amphitheater at the foot of the city and, although it has been renovated and dismantled several times, it still represents an important example of medieval architecture from the 1500s.
Under the park is the house of Petrarca 🏠, “Father of Humanism“. To enter, there is a meager ticket to pay; in this small house, there is also a well from the 15th century, known as the “well of Tofano”, mentioned in the famous Decameron.
Above the house, on the left, there is a small park in which the ruins of the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo from 1278 are located; from this dominant position, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of Palazzo Pretorio, with its facade covered with the colorful coats of arms of the families who ruled and governed here.
Going down towards Corso Italia, on the left you will see the Loggia designed by Vasari: from the splendid arches to ancient doors, once they gave access to the shops and boutiques along the square. Today, this area hosts several bars and restaurants which 🍹, during the summer and spring, put outdoor tables and chairs, while in winter they are transformed into intimate corners from which to enjoy a privileged view of the square.
This square, with a gradient of at least 10 meters, was designed to channel rainwater. Built on the ruins of the ancient Roman forum, today it hosts the famous monthly antiques market and the renowned Giostra del Saracino 🎠, which takes place twice a year (which we will talk about in another post).
From the center of the square you can admire not only the Vasari’s Loggia, the profile of some of the medieval tower houses of the city and the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, but also the creative design of the back of the Pieve and a public fountain dating back to the 16th century ⛲.
La Pieve di Arezzo
Returning to Corso Italia you will find the main entrance of the church, with its singular facade adorned with numerous columns: both the front and rear facade, in fact, are characterized by columns in one of the best-known examples of Romanesque architecture (and of the whole Tuscany).
The bell tower on the right is called the “100 holes” due to the particular workmanship of the mullioned windows on five floors.
Going down the main street, you will notice that the scenery of the city slowly begins to change, introducing more and more shops. Once you arrive in via Francesco Crispi, you will see a green park that houses what remains of the ancient Roman Amphitheater: once upon a time, this structure was able to contain approximately 13,000 people, while today, after a slow and progressive demolition, only the skeleton of what once was remains. Inside there is also a museum.
Irregular in shape, with the ground slightly sloping, wide and sunny; unlike that of S. Domenico which is quiet and peaceful, Piazza Sant’Agostino is always lively, noisy; always upside down for the goods exhibited in fairs and markets, cluttered by the stalls of street vendors; almost every hour the sound of the church bells vibrates.
Piazza Sant’Agostino, the nicest square in Arezzo has on its eastern side the Church of S. Agostino which dominates it with its size and its majestic bell tower ⛪.
The square is full of bars and restaurants and at night it becomes one of the most popular places for young people in the city.
Piazza San Francesco
This square, located near the main theater, houses two icons of the urban landscape of Arezzo: the first, important for its works of art and for the role it played in the history of the city, is the Pieve di San Francesco, and the second, instead, because it seems to have always been there, the Caffè dei Costanti ☕.
The church houses one of the most famous works of art by Piero della Francesca, the Legend of the Cross. Although the interior of the church was damaged when Napoleon’s troops invaded the city, the recently restored frescoes above the altar will be enough to catch your attention and leave you almost breathless with their colors and perspective. To enter there is an entrance ticket to pay, but it is really worth it.
The small stone and brick church is famous, as just said, for hosting Piero Della Francesca’s “The Legend of the True Cross“, considered one of the masterpieces of Italian art. The “Legend” tells the story of the piece of wood with which the Cross of Jesus was built: grown from the branch that God put in the mouth of dead Adam, the tree was to be used to build the Temple of King Solomon but it “rebelled” shortening and lengthening as needed. Thrown into a river, it was used as a walkway until the Queen of Sheba prophesied its use. Solomon then had him buried until the Israelites found him to make the Cross of Jesus.
The Caffè, on the other hand, opened in 1809 and has seen Arezzo throughout its long history.
Museo di Arte Moderna e Medievale
The Museum of Modern and Medieval Art exhibits several works by great artists who not only worked in Arezzo but also in the famous triangle “Florence – Siena – Perugia“, the main medieval cities, sharing their experiences and points of view about colors and the use of perspective 🎨🎭.
The museum is housed in the beautiful “Casa della Dogana” which once housed the State Monopolies. After passing the large courtyard you enter the rooms divided by historical period. Along the way, you will encounter works by Pietro Lorenzetti, Parri di Spinello, Bartolomeo della Gatta, Andrea della Robbia, Vasari, beautiful ceramics from the Umbrian and Tuscan schools up to the most recent works of the Tuscan nineteenth century with canvases by Telemaco Signorini and Cecioni.
Casa Vasari is one of the most important historical figures linked to the city of Arezzo. Although perhaps best known for his writings, Vasari was also a great artist and architect, and his house is concrete proof of his talents. Other works of his are kept in the museum mentioned earlier and a little throughout Tuscany, particularly in Florence.
San Domenico is located in a hidden square of the same name, where the remains of an ancient well used by the city are still visible.
The interiors of the church of San Domenico are simple and linear and house a beautiful restored wooden Crucifix by Cimabue, as well as an engraving, also in wood, of the Virgin Mary with Child.
The large Crucifix by Cimabue, recently restored, is the great attraction of the Basilica of San Domenico. The large cross, more than 3 meters high, is the first work attributed to Cimabue and was painted between 1268 and 1271 approximately.
The Romanesque-Gothic exterior has an unfinished facade with a bell gable.
Every first Saturday and Sunday of the month, Piazza Grande in Arezzo is transformed into a huge antiques market that attracts sellers and enthusiasts from all over Italy. More than 500 exhibitors occupy the square selling all kinds of objects: a real mine for art buyers or simply curious. The Arezzo Antiques Fair is almost 50 years old (since 1968) and to the glory of the organizers, it had never missed an appointment, until Covid arrived.
Villa Severi and its park: one of the green lungs of Arezzo
Immersed in the park is the elegant villa which takes its name from the last private owner, the mathematician from Arezzo, Francesco Severi 🌲. It is an oasis of about eight hectares equipped with a pond with a colony of aquatic turtles, walking and cycling paths, spaces for children, an area for dogs, a small open-air theater reminiscent of those of ancient Greece for shows, and a lively center of aggregation. Playing sports, walking, playing, or relaxing in the park of Villa Severi, east of the city, along with Via Francesco Redi, has been a healthy habit for the people of Arezzo for years.
Arezzo “City of gold”
Arezzo rediscovers itself as the Italian capital of gold 💛. With an increase in exports of 11.4% which makes the Tuscan city the first goldsmith district in Italy. In the city there are about one hundred industries and 500 small and medium-sized enterprises engaged in the gold sector.
Walking through the alleys and squares of Arezzo it is therefore not unusual to come across shop windows where splendid chains, refined rings, superb chokers, delightful bracelets, and incredible knick-knacks are displayed, all strictly in gold. Common denominator of these works: the high quality of the workmanship, one of the unmistakable traits of made in Italy.
Here, in fact, is “OroArezzo”, an annual event that attracts 500 exhibitors, more than 10 thousand visitors, and buyers from the USA, Russia, and the Middle East to the shadow of the Cathedral of San Donato. But there are also workshops such as “Autumn Meetings” or “Last Minute”.
Arezzo “City of Christmas”
Very suggestive is at Christmas 🎅. Piazza Grande and the Prato above are filled with games for children, such as the Lego house and the Polar Bear house. For adults, however, there are the Tyrolean markets and the 40-meter-high Panoramic Tower 🗼. A play of lights and projections will capture your attention and make you smile!😁
Other posts of the trip: Discovery Arezzo❮ ❯