Tuscany is a very popular target among travelers. With reason, to be honest.
This picturesque scenery with olive fields, vineyards and mottled hills! These ancient hilltop towns and villages with their charming narrow streets! The delicious food and wine! The art masterpieces! If you’ve ever seen a movie or a picture of Tuscany, you must know what I am talking about. This place is like an illustration of a book of a fairy tale, truly magical.
There are a lot of reasons for travelling to Tuscany and the motivation can vary from person to person.
Hearing the word „Tuscany” most people think about Florence, Pisa or Siena. They are beautiful places without any doubt, but Tuscany is way more than them. There are many other beautiful and interesting places to visit. You’ve probably never heard about Arezzo, have you? Now I’m giving you some reasons why this town is worth to visit, and what makes it the perfect location to stay during a Tuscan trip.
- Tranquility – Despite being a beautiful town and having tourist from all over the world, Arezzo is a hidden gem. It is small, not overcrowded, therefore is relaxing and gives visitors an opportunity to slow down and unwind for a little while. I know that so many people enjoy spending their holidays in crowded and crazy places and it’s completely ok. But sometimes it’s good to sit down and enjoy the stillness while surrounded by art and history… sipping a glass of Tuscan wine, of course.
- Interesting history – Arezzo has an ancient origin. It is believed to be one of the twelve most important Etruscan towns. Through the history, the town was conquered by the Romans, was under the rule of Florence, and was invaded by Napoleon Bonaparte. When you are in Arezzo you can visit the Archeological Musem which is located just next to the ruins of the Roman Amphitheatre to learn about the history. Over and above, Arezzo was the fatherland for several famous and important artists, such as Guido Monaco, the inventor of the musical notes system; Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch), the “father of humanism”; Giorgio Vasari, painter, architect, writer, and historian.
- Architecture – Walking through the old center of Arezzo is like traveling back in time as the town has been shaped by the centuries and every historical period left his mark on it. Arezzo’s main square is the Piazza Grande which has a really particular trapezoid shape with a strongly tilted surface. The square is surrounded by buildings from different eras. The Loggia, designed by Giorgio Vasari was built in 16th century. The Palace of the Fraternity of the Laity (Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici) had begun to build in the late 14th century and completed between the 15th and 16th centuries and wonderfully combines the Gothic and Renaissance styles. The other side of the square there are some medieval stone buildings. Arezzo is rich in churches and all of them were built centuries ago in Romanesque or Gothic style. The original city wall partially still exist along with the gates and the Medici Fortress.
- Art – I don’t even know where to start. Art lovers can spend few days in Arezzo without getting bored as there are many things to see. The most important art spectacle in town is the famous fresco circle “The Legend of the True Cross” by Piero della Francesca, which is located in the Basilica of San Francesco. Apart that, Giorgio Vasari’s house is worth a visit. The rooms of his house are richly decorated by himself and his students. Even the churches have a lot of masterpieces made by different artist like Andrea della Robbia, Spinello Aretino, Vasari, just to mention few. The Museum of Medieval and Modern Art has a very enlarged collection of artwork of local artists. Besides that, the Palace of the Fraternity of the Laity keeps treasures of art.
- Events – If you like antiques, Arezzo is your place. Apart of the several antique shops and the town organizes the Antiques Fair, which is held on the first weekend of every month on Piazza Grande and the streets nearby. For this occasion Arezzo turns into an alive flee market. As many other Tuscan towns and villages, Arezzo is loyal to its traditions and still proudly host the wonderful medieval tournament, called “Joust of the Saracen” (“Giostra del Saracino”) twice a year: on the third Saturday of June (evening) and the first Sunday of September (afternoon) in Piazza Grande. The town is divided in four quarters and each one of them competes for the Lancia d’Oro, the prize for the winner. The Arezzo area is one of the world capitals of gold. The goldsmiths spread there between the 14th and the 15th centuries with the sacred works manufacturing, but actually the tradition of working gold here has even more ancient origins. The international gold, silver and jewlery trade exhibition “Oro Arezzo” is held yearly.
- Good location – that makes easy to discover Tuscany. Visiting other interesting towns from Arezzo is really easy.. By train or by bus you can visit Castiglion Fiorentino, Cortona, Anghiari, Foiano della Chiana or Poppi. Is not a trouble to reach Florence, Perugia or Siena too. If you are by car even the “kingdoms” of wine, Montepulciano and Montalcino are not far. What else could be better to crown the trip than visiting some wineries or a natural thermal spring, such as San Giovanni Terme in Rapolano.
- Gastronomy – Well, yes. Food is amazing everywhere in Tuscany, that’s true. You don’t necessarily have to visit Arezzo to taste Tuscan dishes. However, in Arezzo you can find quiet, traditional restaurants that serves locals not just dazzle tourist. If you are a meat lover, you can not miss to try the Bistecca alla Fiorentina. It is an enormous stake of a young steer. In case you prefer to follow a vegetarian diet go for Pappa al pomodoro or Ribollita.
+ Bonus: If you happen to be a fan of the movie “Life is beautiful” (“La vità è bella”) or Roberto Benigni, you should put Arezzo on your bucket list. Lots of the scenes of the movie were shot in the town center.
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