Just 80 kilometers far from Florence, the small city of Arezzo hides Italian secrets and traditions.
Here are ten ‘must sees’ that will make your trip an experience remember.
1. Get lost in antiques
Arezzo is a bargain hunters paradise. Every first Sunday of the month Arezzo’s main square, Piazza Grande, is packed with over 500 stalls which spill out down the city’s side streets and alleyways. The event draws huge crowds with 30,000 participants, both locals and tourists, in search of unique items. Roman coins, old telephones, ornated grandfather's clocks and china are a few typical items to be found. Even if you miss the monthly extravaganza, Arezzo still has many more antiques to offer in its copious and varied local shops which are open all year round.
2. Relax in Piazza Grande
Don’t forget to visit the city’s main square also without the hustle of the market. With many cafes and restaurants nearby, the area provides a great place to visit at a slow pace. Be sure to notice the many coat of arms on the surrounding buildings which evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere.
3. Arezzo Cathedral
Sitting proudly on the hilltop of the town, this Gothic Cathedral hides intricate and awe-inspiring details inside. Don’t miss Piero della Francesca’s mural of the Mary Madeleine, medieval stained glass and the baptismal font relief designed by Donatello.
4. Medici Fortress of Arezzo
Built between 1538 and 1560, the fortress is situated within the city walls and once was an impressive five point structure. Although the stronghold is now there only as an evidence of the past, the heights of the surrounding walls provide a 360 degree view of Arezzo and the surrounding area. The fortress is a collection of various periods of construction after being partially dismantled by the French in 1800. A reminder of this history can still be seen on the west side, where explosion damage is still visible.
5. Basilica of San Francesco
Perhaps modest and unassuming on the outside, this medieval church houses Piero della Francesca’s impressive fresco cycle ‘Legends of the True Cross’. To see one of Italy’s most treasured and important pieces of Renaissance art, tourists should book in advance, in order to ensure they are not disappointed.
6. Church of Santa Maria della Pieve
The three-tiered façade and the campanile have earned this church the name of “tower of a hundred holes” due to the numerous windows. But the real attraction of Santa Maria lies inside: visit the crypt to see jewelled artifacts and the bust of San Donato.
7. Giostra Del Saracino: Joust of the Saracens
Each of Arezzo’s neighbourhoods (or ‘Quartieri”) has their own team of knights who joust twice a year, in June and September. The tradition dates back to the 16th century as a means of military training, but now represents a lively social tradition. Tickets range in price, although spectators can watch the procession for free.
8. Archaeological Museum & Roman Amphitheatre
Built partly on the remains of the amphitheatre, this quiet museum displays many cultural gems from the 2nd century as well as a great opportunity to walk amongst the amphitheatre ruins.
9. Museum of Medieval and Modern Art
Not only does the museum offer an extensive collection of ancient arms, paintings and pottery, the building itself offers a quaint courtyard and a grand statement piece staircase.
10. 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 fresco’s, the archive contains letters hand written by Michelangelo and Pius V.
Post and photos are provided by Flavours Holidays.
Flavours Holidays is a specialist ATOL bonded tour operator – offering quality cooking holidays in idyllic and unspoiled regions of Italy. For the last 15 years, guests have the opportunity to learn from local Italian chefs to learn how to cook regional dishes of the local regions. To find out more, visit: https://www.flavoursholidays.co.uk/
Cover image credit: Eduard Díaz i Puig