Best of Arezzo
In a list of the best things to see in Arezzo we cannot forget to mention: Piazza Grande and the Logge Vasari, the frescoes of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca, San Domenico and the Crucifix by Cimabue, the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donato, the Romanesque parish church of Santa Maria, the Vasari House and the Medicean Fortress.
Piazza Grande is considered as one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. Here you may sense a magic and timeless atmosphere coming to life and turning into a soft breeze that blows to lighten up the square and its crenellated towers and eventually caressing the grandeur of the palazzo delle Logge by Giorgio Vasari. Middle-age and Renaissance are merged in a passionate dance. The Romanesque parish Church of Santa Maria, with its apse made of Macigno (a type of grey sandstone), overlooks Piazza Grande from Corso Italia, where its facade gifts us with a marvelous glimpse of its columns, all different one from the other in a clear reference to the style of Pisa and Lucca. As a gray and magnificent giant, the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta stands out in the skyline of Arezzo thanks to its bell tower called the one of a hundred holes. The Basilica of Saint Francis in Arezzo preserves one of the most important Renaissance masterpieces, the cycle of the frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca.In this Romanesque Basilica, one of the most ancient of Arezzo, a Thirteenth century art history masterpiece has rested for almost 800 years: the wooden cross painted by Cimabue. The dome of Arezzo is dedicated to SS Peter and Donato; it is a treasure trove and one of the most beautiful Gothic monuments in Tuscany. Inside this elegant cathedral more than six hundred years of history are condensed- this is the time it took to complete it. We can see the fresco of Magdalen by Piero della Francesca, the relics of blessed Pope Gregory X, glazed ceramics by Andrea Della Robbia and the monumental paintings of the great Neoclassic masters Pietro Benvenuti, Luigi Sabatelli e Luigi Ademollo. The signature of the great Giorgio Vasari can be seen throughout the entire city of Arezzo but never as much as in the house that was his residence already from 1550. The Medicean Fortress of Arezzo dominates all the city of Arezzo from the hill of San Donato. It is unique in its kind and was designed and built by the will of the Medici family in the Sixteenth century not only to protect the town against its foes, but also as a tool to control popular revolts. People of Arezzo indeed never did accept being under the dominion of Florence.
Not only on art and culture lives our town, an elected land of culinary excellence that is proudly represented by an army of small shops and restaurants. You’ll just need to take a few steps through the historic center to dive into the tastes of local tradition, sipping the wines of the hills of Arezzo, or just by letting yourself be tempted by the excellent Chianina meat. Whatever is your choice, you will rediscover the typical, strong and genuine tastes that only Tuscan cuisine can give.
As you walk through the alleys and across the squares of the city, it is hard not to feel a strong sense of poetry and artistic inspiration. It is not by chance that Arezzo was the scenery to one of the most beautiful and touching stories ever told by our italian cinema. In 1997 Roberto Benigni indeed chose it as a setting for the first part of his movie “Life is beautiful”, whose moments we may live again by reading a set of informational boards that are scattered through the town and narrate the most significant scenes that we see in the film.
Making a constant dialogue between art and cinema, we may go even further back in time, discovering the traces of another great Tuscanian man that made Arezzo famous, leaving here his permanent mark: Giorgio Vasari. The town breathes and lives on the influence and the work of the artist, whose testimonies may be experienced with a Vasari themed itinerary.
Arezzo is also colours, the silver blast of trumpets, the vibrant shiver of drum rolls: Arezzo is the Joust. Twice a year, in June and September our town renovates one of his most beloved traditions - that of the Saracen Joust. Four quarters compete for a coveted trophy, putting the outcome of the tournament in the hands of their valiant knight, who will settle it with masterful and precise spear strikes. This tradition, that takes us back to medieval chivalrous tournaments, has many different small events that take place throughout the year, culminating in the week of the actual joust.
On its celebration day in September, the Saracen Joust crosses another one of the events that make Arezzo a destination you cannot miss. Born from the brilliance and from the intuition of our fellow citizen Ivan Bruschi, the Antique Market is a gathering event for hundreds of dealers that, on every first sunday of the month and the saturday prior to it, bring to our city center collector’s items, exotic rarities, and curiosities from the world of antiques and vintage. With over fifty years of history behind, the Antique Market of Arezzo earns the title of largest and oldest event of its kind in Italy.