Things To Do In Arezzo
Arezzo is a unique city, a fine example of Tuscany where the medieval architecture and vegetation are exceptional. The city is truly captivating because it still retains an atmosphere of the medieval era and is not crowded by tourists like the other cities around Tuscany. This city is situated on a ridge at the convergence of the basins of the Upper Valdarno, the Valdichiana, Valtiberina, Casentino and lies on the border with Umbria. It is in fact the most accessible path for those who want to cross the Apennine Mountains. The city was founded in the Etruscan territory in an area that was inhabited since prehistoric times. The first Etruscan settlement was built on the hilltop of San Donato, where the present city now stands. The Etruscan Arezzo, with a name almost identical to the current Arretium, existed as early as the ninth century BC.
When To Go:
The ideal time to visit and spend the holidays in Arezzo is from June to August (warm climate and summer season). September to November is likewise a decent time, even if there are chances of rain. The months of April (Easter) and May (spring) are also an ideal time because there are less crowds on major attractions during these months. It is nice to go around the nature parks too before the onset of the summer season because the flower gardens are in full bloom. The peak of the rainy season begins during the first week of December leading to the winter season that will last until the month of February. The rainy season must be avoided because the rough roads turn muddy and the rains causes’ heavy traffic in the city center. If you plan to visit during the fall or winter season, you ought to bring jeans and heavier tops, similar to sweatshirts and coats because, it can get truly frosty around evening time, particularly in the winter season.
Here are the top attractions and things to do in the city of Arezzo...
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Duomo San Donato
The Duomo San Donato is one of the beauties of Arezzo. It can be reached easily from the parking lot of Pietri with escalators. Worth a visit is the garden at the back, in the shade and with the viewpoint of the countryside surrounding Arezzo. To access this huge cathedral, leave your car at the Pietri parking lot. Take the escalator or arrive at San Domenico, but visit it later and go to the cathedral along via Madonna Laura and get to the point of arrival from the escalator. Then pass the information office, if you want, and with another small flight of escalator cross the palace, the exit, and you will arrive on the square that appears in all its glory. You will see the town hall on the right, the cathedral on the left, the park with the Fortezza.
The San Donato Cathedral is an imposing religious building, particularly in the main nave and grandiose in its Romanesque-Gothic structure (note the arches that are slightly sharp). On the left side, you will enter the Baroque chapel of Our Lady, which is a church within the church. After a brief entry into the city, you will think that you have already seen the main monuments; instead, the nearby Parish Church (Santa Maria della Pieve), for example, will surprise you again, until you get to the famous frescoes of Piero della Francesca in San Francesco. From here, you can see that every attraction in the square begins and ends with the view and presence of the cathedral.
Church of San Francesco Arezzo
The Church of San Francesco Arezzo is an impressive Gothic building that is famous for the fresco cycle "The Legend of the True Cross" by Piero della Francesca. The value of the painting cycle is priceless and the importance of this art in the church is the real crowd drawer. The church offer masses that are regularly officiated, but the visit to its state museum requires an admission fee. Unfortunately, there are no audio guides or even a brochure made available to explain the legend of the True Cross. The nice lady at the ticket office will advise that the only way to get an idea is to follow an old pattern of the cycle of paintings hanging on the wall just before passing the entrance gate.
The fresco of the legend of the true cross starts with the story of Adam, from the discovery of the Cross by St. Helena and the battle of Ponte Milvio (Costantino wins over Maxentius), to finish with the decapitation of Chosroes (the Persian king who had stolen the True Cross) after the defeat by Heraclius.
The main reason to visit this church is certainly the cycle of frescoes by Piero della Francesca and the legend of the cross. Admission is limited, so it is wise to buy the ticket immediately and possibly wait for the time indicated while strolling through the beautiful Arezzo. As for the price, the combined ticket, which also allows entry to the archaeological museum, the museum and the medieval Casa Vasari, costs €12, but if you want to also see the temporary exhibition in the Basilica itself, the price is €15.
San Domenico Church
If you enter from the parking lot to Arezzo Pietri it is possible to cross the wall, as well as with the escalator from the passage that leads to the beautiful Gothic San Domenico Church. The simple facade, with a unique small bell tower on the right side conveys the grandeur of the interior, even in its austerity. It is a must to visit this church, not just because it is situated in the unusual area of the city that looks like a small village, but also for the famous crucifix.
It closes the west side of a beautiful and quiet place, towering over with its imposing Gothic facade. It is home to the famous wooden crucifix by Cimabue (dating back to the late 13th century) and many other works of art and frescoes. Don’t miss the niche glazed terracotta by Giovanni and Girolamo della Robbia (1515-1520) representing St. Peter of Verona; it is a nice church that highlights the creative artists from Arezzo, Tuscany, and Italy.
Santa Maria della Pieve
The Santa Maria della Pieve is an old Romanesque church that pleasantly surprises because of the façade columns, austere and original, on which stands the bell tower. This church was established since the 9th and 11th century and rebuilt in the Romanesque style in 300. The interior is simple, harmonious, and really exciting.
Back outside, the elegant semicircular apse faces the beautiful Piazza Grande. Take all the time you need to enjoy a true masterpiece of Romanesque Art in Arezzo. When exploring, start from the front with the cycle of months decorating the entrance and continue inside the crypt with the reliquary containing the skull of S. Donato, bishop, martyr, and patron of the city. There are no words to describe a building that is so spectacular in its simplicity here in Arezzo.
Badia (Abbey of SS. Lucilla and Flora)
Not far from the church of San Francesco is the Badia or the Abbey of SS. Lucilla and Flora which were established in the thirteenth century, but completed in 500 by Vasari and remodelled in 900 with neo-Gothic facade. Inside there are valuable works like; the monumental altar of Giorgio Vasari, the Crucified by Segna Bonaventura and the false dome (which is a painting) by Andrea Pozzo. It is not perhaps the best known of the city's churches, but certainly it is more popular among the locals of Arezzo and some tourists, but it would be wrong to snub this religious place.
This former Benedictine abbey was dedicated to SS. Flora and Lucilla and built with a massive brick facade structure where you can see the works of Giorgio Vasari. It has an unusual history linked to the destiny of Arezzo; here in fact were given back the keys to the city, which again became a free commune after submission to the powerful Florence. The interior is dark, dark and dim light filtered through the windows. The church is now fully equipped with alarm systems and CCTV cameras, as a deterrent to avoid thefts and vandalism.
The Piazza Grande is an exceptional square and the real gem of Arezzo. In summer, it is decked with shields of the districts and lordships. This heart of the city was the famous location of the Academy award winning film "Life is Beautiful" (1997) by Italian actor and director Roberto Benigni. It is accessed easily through a system of escalators from the parking Pietri.
The varied manner of construction remains one of the most valuable parts of this extraordinary square; the impression it wants to convey is half medieval-looking for the other half of the Renaissance. Each side is different, in an embrace of forms, arches and columns that look harmonious and powerful. Among all the beautiful squares in Tuscany, Piazza Grande is perhaps the most particular one because of the slope. The central design reminds everyone that it is here where you can play the "Giostra del Saracino", a reconstruction of the medieval game. It is also surrounded by old shops, antique dealers, and artisans that promote the wonders of Arezzo.
Casa di Giorgio Vasari
The Casa di Giorgio Vasari is the small house of a genius of Arezzo’s artistic past. Vasari's paintings still adorn the rooms where you can feel the passion and dedication of the artist along with excellent guides that accompany the path. The house is entirely frescoed by the artist and he was particularly touched by the "great room" with the triumph of virtue and with his bedroom that is called "Room of Abraham". It is located high on the hill with a lovely back garden in the historic center of Arezzo and still beautifully preserved. The museum is small, but well worth discovering about this eclectic artist, painter, architect and art historian. The house has an interesting chimney room with zodiac signs painted on the ceiling.
The Casa di Giorgio Vasari hosts unexpected works of indescribable beauty. It is located not far from the town center and must be included within a trip to visit Arezzo. The cost of the ticket is € 4.00 and you can use your ticket that includes a visit to the Church of San Francesco, museums, and other structures about medieval archaeology. Time is an essential factor, so it is wise to call the staff in advance to confirm if the house is open for a visit. The staff is warm and helpful when showing some of his works and also provides brief explanations. The frescoes and paintings adorn the room from the ceiling to the walls of the house, from the dining room to the kitchen. The man made a masterpiece of his house by creating biblical, mythological, and allegorical testimonies of his passion for the art.
Villa La Ripa
If you want to try wine tasting with a 16th century atmosphere, take a ride in the Tuscan countryside with the final goal at Villa La Ripa for a wine tasting. You will be greeted by the owner, Dr. Saverio Luzzi, a man with really exquisite taste and passionate about wine. Then you proceed to the interior of the house and go on tour around the main areas of the house that is full of interesting facts about Arezzo and wine making.
The tour continues up to the wine tasting area with a wonderful selection of wines produced throughout the property. You can taste their line of red wines like; Psycho, Tiratari Peconio, and Rosé Spaziolibero. The wine tasting tour is accompanied by the fascinating historical descriptions of the enchanting place. The owner of this house and winemaker is full of information on this historic site and how he began to produce wine. If you are in Arezzo, it is a must!
Museo Statale d'Arte Medievale e Moderna
The Museo Statale d'Arte Medievale e Moderna is a treasure chest of Arezzo that is built on two floors and nine rooms. This small museum offers an excellent selection of works of art, the tranquillity of being able to admire the exhibits without the presence of an overwhelming crowd, and equipped with a competent and helpful staff. The museum is housed in the palace Bruni-Ciocchi, otherwise known as the "Casa della Dogana", because it once housed the State Monopoly. After passing the great fifteenth-century courtyard with elegant columns and sculptures, you enter the rooms that are divided by historical period.
Along the route there are frescoes and paintings by Lorenzetti, Parri Spinello, Bartolomeo della Gatta, Andrea della Robbia, and Giorgio Vasari up to the most recent works of the nineteenth century Tuscan Art with paintings by Signorini and Cecioni. Then, you will find a room containing beautiful pottery and porcelain of Umbrian and Tuscan schools, and a room with an entire display of weapons and firearms. If you are curious or passionate about medieval art, it is highly recommended to visit this historic museum in Arezzo.
Ivan Bruschi House And Museum
The house museum of Ivan Bruschi, as the name suggests was the home of a former lover of art and beyond. He was a very passionate art collector and recognized as the founder of the Antique Fair in Arezzo. The Ivan Bruschi House and Museum still retains its original structure and is furnished with many of the valuable acquisitions gathered by Mr. Bruschi.
It also highlights objects of great value collected from different countries during his travels. It is a pleasant surprise in the center of Arezzo, a collection that ranges from the Etruscan to 900 with interesting and helpful staff. The house museum stands next to the parish church of Sta. Maria and you can devote at least an hour to dive into a treasure trove of artifacts from all periods that the art dealer Ivan Bruschi has collected in his life and given to the city. There you will find pieces of Etruscan, Roman, Medieval and unique art pieces. The enchanting view of the Santa Maria della Pieve can be enjoyed from the terrace of the house.
Parco della Fortezza Medicea
The Parco della Fortezza Medicea is situated high above the city and stands between the Fortezza Medicea and the Duomo San Donato. It offers beautiful views of the medieval architecture in Arezzo and it is well maintained and clean by its hardworking caretakers. It is spacious, has scenic views, shade of pine trees, and unique shops where you can sit with friends and have a rest from the midday heat. This park is full of lush vegetation where only peace and tranquillity is breathed while you enjoy a typical view of Tuscany, Duomo, Piazza, and the Fortezza by one of its sides. Because it is so vast, you can see many people exercising, engaged in ball games, or simply resting on its well tended green lawn. There is a place where they sell food and drinks and a music stand where the young people of Arezzo mostly hang out. It is excellent for taking breaks to enjoy the fresh atmosphere after a day of sightseeing.
Aside from the row of old cathedrals, museums, and iconic structures, the capital of Tuscany is a favorite destination for sports tourism. Arezzo offers many opportunities to practice a variety of sports that can be played indoors or outdoors like; football, rugby, golf, tennis, mountain biking, horseback riding and rock climbing. The gourmet tourist will also find a piece of paradise in Arezzo .The culinary tradition of Arezzo enhances the authenticity of its locally produced raw materials that reflect their simple and peasant origin. The food products here are of high quality and exported worldwide; primarily the Chianina beef. Arezzo is also blessed with an excellent wine heritage with locally produced red wine (Chianti DOCG) that tastes vivid and intense.
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