Arezzo in Italy: the city of gold and the cradle of Etruscan civilization


Arezzo (Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy) is located at the intersection of the four valleys (Valdarno, Valdiciana, Val Tiberina and Cosentino) that make up this province. Due to its geographical location in the heart of Italy, Arezzo is a meeting place for various civilizations and cultures. The city was badly damaged during the Second World War, but many masterpieces are still preserved here.
A visit to Arezzo is interesting for people who are deeply passionate about art. It was here that the “stave of music” method was invented - the method of recording music in “circles on five rulers”, the great Petrarch was born and the artist Vasari created it.
If you are a little tired of crowds of tourists and the noise of motorbikes - you are here in Arezzo.
All guidebooks also mention that the Oscar-winning Italian film “Life is Beautiful” was directed by Benigni.

Arezzo - how to get

By train - from Rome (2 hours), from Florence (1 hour 15 minutes),
By bus - from Cortona (1 hour), from Sienna (1 hour 15 minutes).
By car - the A1 highway runs a few km from the city; you can leave the car in the municipal parking lot at the entrance to the Old Town.
Arezzo is a small city, it is convenient to explore on foot.
A map of Arezzo is shown in the picture on the right.

Arezzo - a bit of history

Arretium, about which there is information, starting from the 4th century BC, was perhaps one of the 12 powerful Etruscan lukomonies. He became a Roman military center and established himself under the emperor Augustus. In the 1st century BC here the production of “sealed land” (“terra sigillata”) is developing, which is declining along with the city at the beginning of the II century.
The economic and urban revival begins in the XII century during the period of communal management, a university was founded here. In 1289, after the defeat of Kampaldino, which Dante mentions, the city falls under the influence of Florence. which is sold for the first time in 1337, and then, finally, in 1384. During this period, the city begins to decline, which damages artistic and cultural independence.
A new impetus for development arises during the unification of Italy and, above all, after the construction of the Florence - Rome railway (1862-66).

Arezzo Stones
from stones, centuries old deeds,
what echoes of speeches keep
cries of victims with bare necks ...
and remorse of their executioners ...
from stones on a silent night in a dispassionate
from their trembling in the squares,
idle reality freezes
vanity is turning to dust ...

this city, antique conceived,
eagerly drinks from a stream of currencies ...
fat birds peck a trifle,
that cannot fit in pasted
at the gate poster comfort ...
distinguish behind a smiling appearance
ringing shop mannequins,
yours, Arezzo, forgotten with haste
for aging sweet wines,

for flirting and singing
in your paved squares
the weak voice of innocent corruption
a dead prisoner to ashes ...

Posted by Elena Serebrovskaya-Migliori

Arezzo: the history of the ancient city

For centuries, from ancient times, Arezzo has been an important strategic point. The first settlements on the site of the modern city, according to archaeologists, appeared even during the Stone Age, as evidenced by the tools found in the excavations made of stone. Near the modern urban Arezzo line, traces of settlements that existed even before the era of Etruscan civilization were discovered. Later, a large Etruscan city called Aritim was formed on this site. Artifacts found in Arezzo dungeons dating from the 9th century BC testify to this. For many decades, Arithim remained one of the most important Etruscan cities.

During the formation of Rome, Etruscan cities, located on the territory of modern Tuscany and Umbria, sought to suppress the spread of Roman influence, but the troops of Arezzo, Volterra and Perugia in 295 BC were defeated by the Romans in the battle of Grosetto. As a result, Arithymus was Latinized and turned into Arretium (in Latin: Arretium).

The city, which came under the control of the Romans, became the most important symbol of Roman northern expansion, and its convenient strategic location turned it into the main defensive bastion on the way to Rome. At the dawn of the Roman Empire, Arezzo, or rather Arretium, was a rich and prosperous city - the third largest after Rome and Naples. During this period, numerous public buildings were erected here, some of which have survived to this day. Arezzo was famous for its production of bronze processing, as well as pottery workshops, whose products were distributed throughout the Empire.

In the Middle Ages, after the fall of the Roman Empire, Arezzo became one of the first cities to come under the control of the Lombards. This had a strong influence not only on the development of culture and art, but also on ethnic and linguistic transformations.

The ruins of the Roman amphitheater in Arezzo

In the VIII century, with the advent of the Franks, Arezzo became part of the empire of Charlemagne, and a century later became part of the Holy Roman Empire. In the second half of the XI century, feudal power in the city weakened, and Arezzo was in the hands of a bishop who, taking advantage of a convenient situation, appropriated secular power and the title of "count".

The economic growth in the city, caused by the development of handicraft and trade in central Italy, led to the formation of an independent commune, the power over which was divided between the population and the bishop. This was the impetus for the birth of the Arretin Republic, which lasted until the end of the XIV century.
After Arezzo joined Florence, the city quickly began to lose its political significance, which led to economic decline, but this did not affect its cultural development. Such famous artists as Pietro della Francesca, Bernardo Rossellino, Giorgio Vasari and many others lived and worked in Arezzo.

A new impetus to the development of Arezzo occurred after the unification of Italy.

What to see in Arezzo: the main attractions of the city

Sightseeing in Arezzo is best started with a visit to the small basilica of San Francesco, which houses one of the masterpieces of Italian painting - the fresco cycle "Legend of the Cross", created by Pietro della Francesca. The plots of the paintings tell of a legend telling about a tree from which the Cross of the Lord was realized.

Arezzo Main Square - Piazza Grande

Vasari Square, better known as Piazza Grande, is one of the most interesting architectural projects not only of Arezzo, but also of Italy: the trapezoidal square is framed by medieval buildings, churches and ancient trading shops. This is where all the important events of the city take place, among which are the traditional exhibition of antiques and medieval holiday Giostra del Saracino.

Arezzo. Traditional medieval holiday Giostra del Saracino

Arezzo Cathedral - Duomo dei Santi Pietro and Donato - built in the Gothic style in the second half of the XIII century. The unusual interior of the temple is decorated with unusual stained-glass windows of the early 16th century, created by the workshop of the French artist Guglielmo de Marchillat. He also owns the paintings decorating the upper part of the walls of the central nave and its arch, on which the master worked together with Salvi Castelllucci.

Arezzo. Cathedral

No less attractive is the main altar of the basilica, made of marble at the end of the XIII century. In the left nave you can admire the work of Pietro della Francesca - a fresco depicting Magdalena, painted in 1460. In the same part of the temple is the chapel of Madonna del Conforto, which is a rare instance of neo-Gothic architecture with elements of neoclassicism.
While in Arezzo, you should definitely visit the Basilica of San Domenico and Pieve di Santa Maria, located on Piazza Grande, as well as the house where Giorgio Vasari and his family lived for a long time.

One of the most interesting things in Arezzo that you can see while walking around the city is the presence of unusual doors. Medieval residential buildings, retaining their original appearance, have two doors: wide and narrow. The latter, called the "door of the dead," was intended to carry the dead. In the Middle Ages, it was believed that death, seeing off the deceased, could not return to the house, since the "door of the dead" always remained closed.

Where to stay in Arezzo for sightseeing

We recommend these charming Arezzo hotels with easy access to the old town and the cathedral:

  • Bella di Ceciliano: a magnificent 17th-century hill, a short trip to the city, exposed beams, large gardens, a jacuzzi.

  • Hotel Continentale: average price, convenient location, comfortable beds, rooftop terrace, hot tub.
  • Minerva Hotel: reasonable prices, close to the old town, helpful staff, modern room decor.
  • B&B Antiche Mura: budget bed and breakfast, old town location, great hosts, 13th century building.

    Day Trips from Arezzo

    Camáldoli Raffaele Marciano / photo modified

    Camaldoli Abbey, still the center of the Order of Camaldoles, is located in the densely populated hills of northeastern Tuscany, about 50 km north of Arezzo, since it has been since its founding in 1012. The church was rebuilt at the beginning of the 16th century and at the end of the 18th century, it was presented with a modern Baroque form and a large ceiling fresco. In the 16th century, Giorgio Vasari painted several paintings for the church, including Descent from the Cross, the Virgin and Child with the Saints, and Saints Donatus and HilarianThe charming monastery was built in 1543, as was the pharmacy at the entrance to the monastery, which still houses its original office.

    Monte San Savino

    An important cultural center in the Middle Ages, the city of Monte San Savino, is located on a hilltop, surrounded by pine mountain villages. The monastery of Sant'Agostino and its monastery a little later was founded at the beginning of the XVI century by Andrei Sansovino, a native of Monte San Savino, who became one of the leading Renaissance architects. In the church, look at the picture of Giorgio Vasari, AssumptionAlso worth a look in Monte San Savino are the columns of Logge dei Mercanti and Palazzo di Monte with an open atrium.

    City Arezzo (Italy)

    Arezzo is a city in Central Italy in the Tuscany region. Located on a hilly plain in the upper Arno River and is the capital of the province of the same name. Arezzo is one of the oldest cities in the country, older than, for example, Egyptian Alexandria. This is one of the largest and most important settlements of the Etruscans, which has not lost its importance under the Romans, the homeland of Petrarch and the workshop of Vasari, the city of poets and a place where art has always flourished.

    Geography and climate

    Arezzo is located 80 km southeast of Florence in the north of Val di Chiana (a hilly plain that occupies the territory of Tuscany and Umbria). The city is located in the upper reaches of the Arno River.

    The climate is subtropical. It has pronounced continental features characteristic of all of Tuscany. Summer is hot and dry, and winter is warm enough with rare negative temperatures and irregular snow cover.

    Panorama Arezzo

    Practical information

    1. The population is 99.5 thousand people.
    2. Area - 384.7 square kilometers.
    3. Language is Italian.
    4. Currency is Euro.
    5. The visa is Schengen.
    6. Time is Central European UTC +1, in the summer +2.

    Arezzo is one of the oldest cities in Tuscany. The first settlement here was founded by the Etruscans in the 6th century BC. Arretium quickly became one of the largest and most important cities of Etruria. Arezzo during the Etruscan period achieved considerable prosperity, until in 301 BC it was conquered by the Romans. The city center was badly damaged, and most of the residents were evicted.

    In the era of the Roman Empire, the value of Arezzo not only did not fall, but also continued to grow. In the 1st century AD, about 100 thousand people lived here, and the city itself was the third largest population in Italy (after Rome and Naples). In the 2nd century, the Romans built an amphitheater.

    After the fall of the Roman Empire and as a result of the invasion of the barbarians, the population of the city decreased significantly. But thanks to the advantageous position, Arezzo played an important role in the early Middle Ages. In the 5-6 centuries the city was on the border of the kingdom of the Ostrogoths and possessions of Byzantium. Arezzo later became part of the state of the Lombards, in the 8th century it became part of the Kingdom of the Franks, and in the 10th century it became part of the Holy Roman Empire.


    By the beginning of the 12th century, Arezzo actually gained independence. The city was ruled by a bishop and commune. The Arethine Republic was soon formed, which reached its peak in the 13th century. In 1255, a university was founded here, one of the oldest in Europe. During the confrontation between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, Arezzo supported the latter. By the end of the 13th century, Guelphs ruled almost the entire territory of Tuscany. In 1289, a major battle took place at Kampaldino, during which the Arethinian army was defeated, and their leaders died. Since that time, the importance of the city began to fall.

    In 1384, Arezzo became part of Tuscany. Despite the wide rights, the importance of the city began to decline steadily. Interestingly, this does not apply to culture and art. In the Renaissance, famous scientists, artists, architects worked here. During the Napoleonic Wars, Arezzo became one of the main centers of the opposition. During World War II, the city was significantly damaged by bombing.

    Panorama Arezzo

    Shopping and shopping

    In the old town of Arezzo there are quite a lot of shops, including clothes and shoes of famous brands. Every first Sunday of the month, Piazza Grande hosts a large flea market that attracts tens of thousands of people.

    Antiques market


    Piazza Grande or Big Square - the heart of Arezzo, a beautiful medieval square surrounded by historical buildings. The north side is occupied by the Vasari Palace - the Palazzo delle Logge with an elegant colonnade. In the western corner is Santa Maria della Pieve and a 14th-century palace with a beautiful Gothic facade. The bell tower was added by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century. It has one of the oldest Italian watches that still work.

    Pieve di Santa Maria

    Pieve di Santa Maria is the oldest surviving church in the city and the most important Romanesque building. The modern church was built in the 13th century on the site of an older but destroyed building. The religious building was rebuilt in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. The church has an interesting facade, a harsh interior and an ancient crypt. On the right is a bell tower 60 meters high and five rows of double windows.


    The Duomo is a cathedral with 7 centuries of history. Known for exceptional French stained glass windows of Guillaume de Marzilla of the 14th century. Also in the cathedral is the grave of the 14th Pope Gregory X. On the high altar is the late Gothic tomb and the relics of St. Donatus, Bishop Arezzo, who was tortured during the time of Diocletian, the sacristy has beautiful frescoes, and the old sacristy contains priceless paintings, a Roman cross 11 15th century and Flemish sail.

    San Domenico

    San Domenico is one of the most impressive churches of Arezzo, built in the 13th century. It is believed that the building was designed by Pisano. The church has an original medieval bell tower, on which two bells of the 14th century are installed. Inside are the beautiful frescoes of the 14th and 15th centuries, the Gothic tabernacle of the 14th century Giovanni di Francesco and the crucifix of Shimabue of the 13th century.

    San francesco

    San Francesco is a medieval church founded in the 13th century.Chapels on the left were added in the 15th century. Above the door is a round window by Guillaume de Marzilla. The church is known for its famous frescoes, which are one of the most expressive works in all Italian painting.

    House of Vasari

    Vasari House is the home of a famous architect with a series of beautiful frescoes. It was acquired by him in 1540. The archive contains letters from Michelangelo and Pope Pius V.

    Pretorio Palace

    Pretorio Palace is a beautiful historic building with many emblems and bas-reliefs on the facade. The building was built in 1322 and rebuilt in the 17th century. From 1404 to 1926, the palazzo served as a prison. Now there is a library in its walls.

    Roman amphitheater in Arezzo