Saracen jousts, Piero della Francesca's most famous work, and a major monthly antiques market await the traveler in Arezzo.
Arezzo is a town of about 100,000 people in Arezzo province, situated near the intersection of Tuscany with Umbria and the Marche. Early Renaissance painter, mathmatician and geometer Piero della Francesca's most beloved artwork is found here; the fresco cycle called "The Legend of the True Cross", a monumental work of the early Rennaisance, is found in the church of San Francesco, shown on the map.
Another famous person with ties to Arezzo was the 14th century poet Petrarca, who is said to have been born in a house on Via dell'Orto, except that the house you visit dates from the 17th century and was rebuilt after suffering major damage in the war. Don't worry, it's a free and interesting visit; the restored house is now the headquarters of the Accadémia Petrarca di Léttere, Arti e Scienze.
Artist and architect of the Uffizi Giorgio Vasari bought his house in Arezzo in 1540 and decorated it with frescoes you can see today. There's a lot to see in this relatively small house, marked on our map.
Arezzo's Piazza Grande, marked on the map and shown in the slide show below, is one of Tuscany's finest. The medieval jousting fest known as The Saracen Joust of Arezzo--or Giostra del Saracino, Giostra ad burattum--derives from the 13th century jousts that were famous at the time. The modern joust is held on the Saturday before the last Saturday in June in the evening and on the first Sunday of September in the afternoon. Come early though, there are lots of events going on in town.
Click or tap the map markers to find out more about these attractions.
The train station is on the southwest corner of the historic center. The town is uphill from the station, so it's a bit of a climb up to the Piazza Grande.
Most trains going from Florence to Rome pass through Arezzo. The ticket window is open from 5:30 am to 8:50 pm (subject to change, of course).
It takes from 40 minutes to an hour and a half to get to Arezzo from Florence, depending upon the speed and class of the train. The SITA bus from Florence takes a bit longer.
Just outside the station is the APT information office where you can get a map and other information for visiting the town.
On the highest point in Arezzo sits the Cathedral, the Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Donato, built between 1278 and 1511. The original facade was unfinished until 1901-1914.
The most amazing works of Piero della Francesca are found inside the Capella Maggiore, a must see in Arezzo. You must have tickets to see them, and only 25 people at a time are let in on a 30 minute cycle. In the off season you can turn up at the ticket office (it's well marked), but in the summer you're likely to have a bit of trouble unless you've reserved.
Monday through Friday: 9:00 - 17:30
Saturday: 9:00 - 17:00
Sunday: 13:00 - 17:00
The Province of Arezzo is one of the world's capitals of Gold, according to Living a gold passion in Arezzo and environs. Over 1,100 companies are using old, and artisans have found a home here. Follow the link to see the techniques. You can also access a Craftsmanship Itineraries Map for Arezzo Province.
The monthly antiques market is hild under the arcades in Piazza San Francesco and Piazza Grande in arezzo on the first Sunday of the month and the preceeding Saturday.
The Hotel L'Aretino is near the train station, if you're like me and want to hop off the train, dump your bags at a hotel that gets good reviews from folks who've stayed there, and explore the city. It's on a pedestrian street and offers free wi-fi.
If you want to be right in the center of things, La Corte Del Re is right in the Piazza Grande. Ask for a room with Piazza Grande views if you value such things. There is a free shuttle from the train station you might want to use, since the walk is uphill.
See other hotels in Arezzo.
We had a great lunch at Osteria da Luchino on Via Beccheria 3. For a review, see: A Truffled Gnudi Lunch in Arezzo. Also popular is I Tre Bicchiere (upscale) on Piazzetta Sopra I Ponti 3-5 and Miseria e Nobiltà, Piaggia S.Bartolomeo 2, near Piazza Grande.
If you have rented an apartment in Arezzo, the Farmacia del Cervo on Via Vittorio Alfieri will serve you well (pictured below in the picture gallery). It's a good bet for take out food.
If you read Italian, Arezzo Ristoranti is a very good site that won't lead you astray.
Arezzo is known not only for its food, but its wine. If you are an intrepid traveler with a car bent on discovering the undiscovered Tuscany, the Arezzo Wine and Food Routes in Casentino might just be for you. The route even includes a 1,000 year old farm run by Camoldolese monks!
If you need to find your way around fast, and have some special things you want to see, hiring a guide can save you time and, if you're completely lost in your quest, money. Licensed guide Serena Ricci offers some Arezzo Tours, or you can hire her for a custom tour--or even to get married in Tuscany.
In Arezzo province you'll find the Sanctuary of La Verna, where Saint Francis received the stigmata, which today is a huge complex to explore. If you like religious Sanctuaries, the Eremo Le Cella is a must see outside of Cortona, which isn't far away. Saint Francis founded the monastery in the early 13th century, preaching there in 1211.
Tourists on the trail of Piero Della Francesca might want to continue their pilgrimage with a trip to the interesting town of Pieve del Colle across the Tuscany border in Pieve del Colle. See: Pieve del Colle and the Hidden Landscapes of Piero Della Francesca.
If you're on a quest to see other Tuscan hill towns, see our map and guide.