To fully enjoy the best of the Arezzo area, we recommend visiting the capital city first. Dating to the Etruscan era, Arezzo is a medieval gem, full of history, culture and art. In the historic centre, you can admire the Church of San Francesco, home to Piero della Francesca’s frescoes depicting The Legend of the True Cross, the Romanesque Parish Church of Santa Maria, piazza Grande (where the Saracen Joust is held), the Gothic cathedral, which conserves a Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesca, the Church of San Domenico, with a Crucifixion by Cimabue, and Casa Vasari.
Arezzo vaunts several traditions, such as the Antiques Festival, Saracen Joust (third Saturday of June and first Sunday of September) and goldsmithing; indeed, the city produces some of the best gold in Italy. Arezzo is a centre of culture and art thanks to a number exhibitions, concerts and theatre performances, as well a lovely painting and music scene.
From Arezzo, we move towards the Valdarno, a large plain that, through millennia of water and wind erosion, form the Balze. The Sette Ponti Trail, known as the Cassia Vetus are just beyond the Balze, once linking Arezzo to Fiesole. Following the plain, the landscape transforms into hills dotted with medieval settlements followed by the massive Pratomagno, with its forests, chestnut forests and pastures. Inhabited by Etruscans and Romans, it is today home to villages with traces of urban walls, fortresses, castles, farmlands and farmsteads that maintain the rural ambiance of the Tuscan countryside.
Lastly, we come to the Valdichiana, a fertile and rich plain surrounded by lush, rolling hills dotted with splendid and intact medieval towns. This area was inhabited by Etruscans, who left extraordinary traces of their civilization everywhere. In the Middle Ages, these towns were transformed into fortified cities, scattering the hills with imposing defense walls that were often built atop Etruscan-Roman walls.