Ten Things to Do in Arezzo
A HIDDEN GEM IN TUSCANY
It is no wonder that Roberto Benigni filmed the Oscar-winning Life is Beautiful in Arezzo. Just a short distance from the villa, this untouched medieval city is slightly off the beaten track for tourists, hence its unique charm. Here are ten highlights that make Arezzo an unforgettable experience.
1. Relax in Piazza Grande
Even without the hustle of the market, the city’s main piazza is a great place to visit. With lots of great cafés and restaurants nearby, the area is perfect for slow-paced afternoons, watching the world go by. Flanking the high side of the Piazza is a splendid Loggia by Giorgio Vasari, native of Arezzo, student of Michelangelo, prolific artist and architect and writer of The Lives of the Artists.
2. Climb the Clock Tower at Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici
Climbing the clock tower at Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici – located in one corner of the Piazza Grande – is an absolute must while in Arezzo. The views from the top are amazing.
3. Visit the Duomo San Donato
Sitting proudly atop the hill that dominates the city, this Gothic cathedral hides an intricate and awe-inspiring interior. Don’t miss Piero della Francesca’s fresco of Mary Magdalene, the medieval stained glass and the baptismal font relief sculpted by Donatello.
4. Admire the frescos at the Basillica of San Francesco
Perhaps modest and unassuming on the outside, this medieval church houses Piero della Francesca’s impressive fresco cycle depicting the Legend of the True Cross. To see one of Italy’s most treasured and important pieces of Renaissance art, you should book in advance to ensure entry, as tickets sell-out quickly.
5. See the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve
The three-tiered façade and the bell tower have earned this church the name “tower of a hundred holes” due to its many windows. But the real attraction of Santa Maria lies inside: visit the crypt to see jewelled artefacts and the bust of San Donato.
6. Visit the Archaeological Museum and Roman Amphitheatre
Built partly atop the ruins of an amphitheatre, this quiet museum displays many cultural gems and is a great opportunity to walk through ancient history.
7. Take in the Casa Vasari
Easily forgotten and overlooked, any art lover should see the elaborate interiors of Giorgio Vasari’s Renaissance home. As well as containing his own work and frescos, the archive contains letters hand-written by Michelangelo and Pope Pius V.
9. Stroll in The Historical Gardens
At the top of the city, the Historical Gardens provide beautiful vistas of the surrounding countryside. There are two open-air bars where you can refresh yourself while contemplating the journey back down the hill, discovering the boot makers, leather-workers and jewellery shops that also make Arezzo famous.
10. Take a Daytrip
Visit Cortona, Anghiari, Monterchi and Sansepolcro (if you love Piero della Francesca) and the beautiful castle of Poppi. These are just some of the most stunning towns in the province of Arezzo waiting to be discovered.