The town of Arezzo lies close to the Umbrian border in southeastern Tuscany. It is located just an hour away from Florence, not far from Siena and San Gimignano, all important tuscany tourist locations.
Historically, it is considered to have been one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities. There is a significant Etruscan evidence in parts of walls an Etruscan necropolis and the two bronzes, the "Chimera of Arezzo" (5th century BC) and the "Minerva" (4th century BC), which were discovered in the 16th century and taken to Florence. It was conquered by Romans in 41 BC, when it became an important military station for the Republican Rome. In the Middle Ages, Arezzo became an important episcopal seat. The Roman city was demolished throgh the Gotic War and the invasion of the Lombards. The commune of Arezzo escaped the control of its bishop in 1098 and was an independent city-state until 1384. Ghibelline in its line-up, it opposed Guelph Florence however was obliged to give up to Florentine domination in 1384;
From then on, its individual history depended on that of Florence and the Medicean Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Arezzo is one of Tuscany's wealthiest towns and its medieval centre is almost entirely preserved. Evidence of this can be seen with the evocative ruined Medici fortress, which represents the highest point of the town overlooking the countryside.
The centre of the town is enriched with fabulous Renaissance and medieval architecture, as well as famous artworks and treasures. Particularly renowned are the renaissance 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 (recently restored) between 1453 and 1466 during the Florentine domination.
The Corso Italia is the main street leading to the old town's central square Piazza Grande, the most famous medieval square in the city, established behind the 13th century Romanesque Church Santa Maria della Pieve. Once the main marketplace of the city, it is currently the site of the Giostra del Saracino ("Joust of the Saracen"). It is provided with expensive boutiques, bars, antique and jewellery stores.
Arezzo was also the home town of the Medici's favourite architect Giorgio Vasari, who designed many of Florence's important buildings, such as the Palazzo Pitti, Palazzo Vecchio, Vasari Corridor and the Uffizi Gallery. The Casa di Vasari is now a museum and can be found near the Piazza San Domenico.
The Palace of the Lay Fraternity (Fraternita dei Laici):
The Vasari Loggia
Remains of the Communal Palace and the Palazzo del Popolo
Santa Maria della Pieve: Romanesque church, built in the 12th century over a pre-existing Palaeo-Christian edifice and renovated by Giorgio Vasari in 1560.
Basilica of San Francesco (13th-14th centuries): built in Tuscan-Gothic style. Of the projected façade cover in sculpted stone only the lower band was completed. The interior has a single nave: the main attraction is the History of the True Cross fresco (1453-1464) cycle by Piero della Francesca in the Bacci Chapel. Under the church is another Basilica with a nave and two aisles (Basilica inferiore), today used for art exhibitions.
Basilica of San Domenico (founded in 1275 and completed in the early 14th century): The interior has a single nave with a Crucifix by Cimabue, a masterwork of 13th-century Italian art. Other artworks include a Sts. Philip and James the Younger and St. Catherine by Spinello Aretino and other 14th century painting and sculpture decorations.
Santa Maria in Gradi This medieval church was initially built in the 11th or the 12th century, but reconstructed in the late 16th century by Bartolomeo Ammannati.
San Lorenzo, one of the most ancient of the city, having been built before the year 1000, most likely in Palaeo-Christian times. Rebuilt in the 13th century and restored in 1538, it was totally rebuilt in 1705. The apse exterior is in Romanesque style.
Santa Maria delle Grazie
Pieve di San Paolo
Palazzo dei Priori, erected in 1333 and renovated several times. It has been the seat of the city's magistratures until today.
Medici Fortress (Fortezza Medicea), designed by Antonio da Sangallo the Younger and completed in 1538-1560. It was partly dismantled by the French in the early 19th century.
Palazzo Pretorio, which was seat of the People's Captain until 1290. Only one of the two original towers remains.
House of Petrarch (Casa del Petrarca).
Casa Vasari (in Via XX Settembre) is an older house rebuilt in 1547 by Giorgio Vasari and frescoed by him; now open as a museum.
Civic Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art.
UnoAErre Jewelry Museum
Among Arezzo cultural events is to be found an antique fair that takes place on the first Sunday of the month and then the preceding Saturday.
Noteworthy is a medieval jousting tournament, Giostra del Saracino, which takes place in June and September as well. Here knights on horseback, representing different city quarters charge at a wooden target attached to a carving of a Saracen king and score points according to accuracy.
International Guido d'Arezzo Polyphonic Contest: annual international competition of choral singing.
Arezzo Wave: annual popular music and culture festival, held in June