Arezzo, Italy: The Enchanting Medieval City!
The charming city of Arezzo in Italy is a true travel highlight in Tuscany. Famous as a ceramic and metal city, it fascinates especially with its charming old town, which exudes a large portion of medieval flair. In addition, a city tour of Arezzo reveals a multitude of incredibly spectacular attractions. Truly impressive there is the sloping Piazza Grande, a breathtakingly beautiful main square and actually a popular photo motif of the city. Excellent restaurants and cozy cafés invite guests to linger and enjoy the scenery. Also worth seeing are the countless museums and churches, where art treasures and masterpieces by well-known artists such as Piero della Francesca or Giorgio Vasari can be admired.
In this travel guide, we give you all the important information and tips about Arezzo in Italy. We show you the best attractions and things to do and activities, wonderful pictures, reveal exclusive insider tips and where to find recommended accommodation in Arezzo.
General Information about Arezzo
Arezzo is a city of about 100,000 inhabitants in east Tuscany and is considered one of the most prosperous cities in the region. It has always been famous for its handicrafts and jewelry making, which are still important economic sectors today. About ten tons of gold are processed in Arezzo per month, and the world-famous Aretine vases and Terra Sigillata tableware are also made in this Tuscan city. Worth seeing is Arezzo’s beautiful center, where merchants’ palaces, patrician houses and numerous churches conjure up a picture-perfect medieval ambience. There are also numerous pretty antique stores in the city center, and furthermore a large antique market is held regularly in Arezzo.
The history of Arezzo goes back to the era of the Etruscans. Like Volterra it was part of the League of Twelve Cities at that time. Moreover, it was located on the strategically important ancient Via Cassia, a Roman road that led from Rome to Tuscany. In the 4th century AD, the city became a bishop’s see. Arezzo was considered loyal to the emperor for a long time, and kept it so until the 14th century. Later, it came under Florentine rule, and the Medici allowed the city to fall into disrepair. Today Arezzo is a popular stop on roundtrips, and it has also made a name for itself as a movie town. For example, film scenes for “Life is Beautiful” were shot in Piazza Grande and Corso Italia.
Best Things to Do in Arezzo
There are countless interesting things to do in Arezzo. The main attraction is the beautiful historical city center with Piazza Grande, the many splendid patrician houses and churches. Here is a summary of the most beautiful places to visit at a glance:
One of the most remarkable attractions in Arezzo is the impressive Piazza Grande in the center of the historic old town. This “sloping square” forms the heart of the city center and is a popular photo motif in the old town thanks to its unusual appearance. Impressively, this square was built on a sloping, trapezoidal surface. All around are numerous historical buildings from various eras, which give the Piazza Grande an additional unique flair.
Also worth seeing are the Torre Faggiolana tower crowned with battlements, the palace of the lay brotherhood, the Renaissance arcades and the church of Santa Maria della Pieve. Directly on the Piazza Grande are fantastic restaurants and cafés, where you can enjoy a glass of wine and beautiful music in an insanely great atmosphere.
Tip: Truly recommend are the apartments at La Torre di Borgunto. The central location right in the city center, just 70 meters from Piazza Grande, is also brilliant.
Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici
The Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, the so-called Palace of the Lay Fraternity, is one of the most important historical buildings in Arezzo. It was founded in 1263 to provide charitable assistance to the poor of the city. Situated in the main square Piazza Grande, it has a beautiful façade and an interesting clock tower. Inside, there is a small museum with countless works of art and an astronomical clock as its centerpiece. One of the best things to do is a visit to the upper floor of the museum, from where you can enjoy a wonderful view over the roofs of Arezzo.
Entrance Fee: 5 Euros per person | Opening Hours: daily from 10:30am to 6:00pm
Arcades Palazzo delle Logge
Also great to see in Arezzo are the Renaissance arcades of Palazzo delle Logge, which are located on the front of the wonderful Piazza Grande. This long portico was created by the well-known architect Giorgio Vasari at the end of the 16th century, and nowadays, it is still one of the most charming attractions of the old town. In the past, workshops were housed here, but today there are lovely cafés and superb restaurants below this loggia, which are ideal for a harmonious sightseeing break.
Santa Maria della Pieve
The Church of Santa Maria della Pieve is the oldest church in the city and also one of the most important places to visit in Arezzo. This attraction is also located right in the center of the city, on Piazza Grande. It was built in the 12th century and is particularly impressive with its fascinating façade in several styles. Also worth seeing is the so-called “tower with a hundred holes”, the bell tower of Santa Maria della Pieve, which has been provided with innumerable windows. However, the most essential attractions of this church are to be found in its splendid interior. Here you can admire valuable art works, especially Pietro Lorenzetti’s panel painting “Madonna and Saints”, which was created in 1320.
Entrance Fee: free of charge | Opening Hours: 8:00am to 12:30pm & 3:00pm to 6:30pm
Cathedral of Arezzo
One of the most beautiful attractions in Arezzo is the Cathedral of Santi Pietro e Donato, or simply known as the Cathedral of Arezzo. This church is located on the highest point of the city and is a gothic building with a rather simple exterior façade. Those interested in art should definitely also take a look at the interior of this church. Highlights are the wonderful stained-glass windows of the cathedral, which were created by the French glass painter Guillaume de Marcillat. Further attractions are the small fresco Maria Maddalena by Piero della Francesca and the terracottas by Andrea della Robbia.
Entrance Fee: free of charge | Opening Hours: 6:30am to 12:30pm & 3:00pm to 7:00pm
Medici Fortress & City Walls
The Medici Fortress, also known as Fortezza Medicea, was built between 1538 and 1560 by order of Cosimo I de’ Medici. It is located on the hilltop of the city and can be visited on a few days of the week. Walking along the walls, you can enjoy a wonderful view of the beautiful surroundings of Arezzo. Furthermore, in the center of the castle, you can visit some archaeological findings from the Roman period. A highlight is actually also the art exhibition, which is located in the interior of the fortress. Here you can discover various modern art works, some of them with bizarre figures and mystical statues.
Entrance Fee: 8 Euros | Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday from 10:00am – 2:00pm & 3:00pm – 7 :00am
San Francesco Church
The basilaca of San Francesco is certainly one of the most important church in Arezzo. From the outside it is a very simple Gothic building, a typical example of a simple mendicant church. However, this place is fascinating on the inside! Here you can admire the famous frescoes by Piero della Francesca from the 15th century. They tell the legend of the True Cross, a cycle of frescoes located behind the main altar. Today, outside the times of worship, you can visit this church as a museum.
Entrance Fee: 8 Euros | Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday from 9:00am to 6:00pm
Palazzo Dei Priori
The Palazzo dei Priori is a beautiful attraction that should not be missed during any stroll through Arezzo. This 14th century city palace is one of the most interesting in the city center. It is located on Piazza della Liberta, diagonally opposite the cathedral. Since the late Middle Ages, this palace has been the highest jurisdiction of the city, and today it is still the municipal seat. Interesting also from the inside, visitors can admire numerous works of art in the small museum, such as paintings by Giorgio Vasaris, frescoes and statues.
A must-see place, especially for art lovers, is the Vasari House in Arezzo. The so-called Casa Vasari was purchased in 1511 by Giorgio Vasari, a famous painter, architect and sculptor. From 1542 to 1548 it was renovated with the help of his students and frescoes and tempera were added. Today, Casa Vasari is one of the most important museums in the city. During a tour of the beautiful rooms, you can also admire a collection of about 50 paintings from the 16th century.
Entrance Fee: 5 Euros | Opening Hours: Wednesday to Monday, from 8:30am to 12:30pm
During a city walk through Arezzo, a short stop in front of the Palazzo Pretorio is one of the best things to do. It was built in the 13th century and was later used as a prison from 1600 onwards. Fascinating and unique here is the outer façade, which was decorated with countless coats of arms of the Podestà, i.e. the mayors of the city, who were active in Arezzo from the first half of the 15th century.
Roman Amphitheater & Archaeological Museum
One of the best places to visit in Arezzo is the Roman amphitheater and the adjacent Archaeological Museum. This Colosseum was built by the Romans in the 1st century A.D. The building, made of sandstone and bricks, could once accommodate 8,000 to 10,000 people. Right next to it, in the former Olivetan monastery, is the Archaeological Museum of Arezzo. Especially those interested in history appreciate the comprehensive exhibition from the Etruscan and Roman times.
Porta San Lorentino
The Porta San Lorentino is the most worth-seeing of the four city gates and leads directly into the historical center of Arezzo. It was dedicated to San Lorentino, the protector of the Porta del Foro district. The bronze chimera in the middle passageway is particularly impressive. Of course, this is not the valuable original from 1553, which is now exhibited in the Uffizi in Florence.
Where to Stay in Arezzo
In Arezzo, both in the historical center and in the surrounding area, there is a wide range of beautiful accommodations. From the well-kept wineries, Agriturismos with pool, pensions, hotels and apartments, here you can find everything. Here are our recommendations for the best places to stay in Arezzo…It’s worth a look!
- Apartments with Pool: The apartments of Villa Ghiandai are situated in a very quiet area with a great view over Arezzo. The pool is also fantastic here to cool off on hot days.
- Charming B&B: The BioBenessere is a really nice B&B, lovingly furnished and with delicious breakfast. The roof terrace where you can relax and enjoy your meals is also wonderful.
- Agriturismo with Pool: The Podere Fontanino is a beautiful accommodation in the countryside of Arezzo. A lovely infinity pool and the special hospitality will delight you.
- Vacation Apartment in the Old Town: The La Torre di Borgunto has been furnished with love. Ingenious is also the unique location, only 70 meters from Piazza Grande.
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