Arezzo is a city located in the central region of Italy – it is approximately equidistant from both the Adriatic and Mediterranean coasts of the country and lies to the south east of Florence and the north west of Perugia. This city of 99,000 inhabitants is the capital of the Arezzo province and is located in the Tuscany region of Italy. Originally in ancient times, this city was settled by the Etruscan people and archaeological findings have dated a human presence as far back as the 4th century. As Arezzo is situated on a rising hill, the town is split into a lower and upper section, with the upper town being predominantly historic, and the lower section modern. The cities economy is based mainly on industry and the western borders of Arezzo features many factories, offices and warehouses.
As a tourist destination, Arezzo benefits from a central location and is within a reasonable distance from some of Italy’s finest cities including Florence, Pisa and Perugia. Additionally, the city itself has an expansive history and has some truly remarkable buildings such as the Duomo San Donato and the Teatro Petrarca. Moreover, the city also has some fine museums, and gorgeous public parks. For a slice of Italian life, culture and history, Arezzo is a brilliant destination to visit.
Let’s explore the best things to do in Arezzo:
1. Piazza Grande
The historic town centre of Arezzo is a picturesque place with some beautiful buildings and squares – the most prominent and important square is the Piazza Grande.
As the name suggests this is a large square with a series of interesting buildings and design features.
Situated on the square is the Chiesa di Santa maria della Pieve and the Grand Art Gallery.
The architecture has a fantastic mix of Renaissance, medieval and traditional Italian styles which come together to create an interesting scene.
On the north eastern side of the square there is a long arched portico lined with flowers.
Furthermore, you can find some charming cafes where you can simply people watch and enjoy the comings and goings of the Piazza Grande.
2. Fortezza Medicea
Only a short distance from the Piazza Grande is the immense Medicea Fort – this epic defensive structure is one of Arezzo’s most iconic buildings and has stood for hundreds of years.
Constructed in the 16th and 17th centuries it is a fine example of a military fortress from this time period.
With a pentagonal shape and 5 defensive towers, the Medicea fort is a great place to explore – you can walk in the grounds of the fort and even climb up to the top of the battlements.
When on-top of the battlements you are granted with 360 degree views of Arezzo and the surrounding countryside.
Throughout the fort you can find informative plaques that detail the history of the structure for those who are interested in its history.
3. Duomo San Donato
More commonly known as Arezzo Cathedral, this magnificent religious structure can be found in the northern part of the historic town centre.
The façade was designed by Dante Viviani and was built using sandstone – it features a traditional three pronged style with a central rose window and five ornate statues above the doorway.
Inside the cathedral the decoration and artwork is simply stunning – the ceiling in particular is covered with a colourful fresco and there is also reliefs created by the renowned architect Donatello.
The centrepiece of the church however is undoubtedly the Arch of St.
Donatus – this impressive memorial has a huge amount of detail and holds the remains of the Martyred Saint.
4. Teatro Petrarca
Constructed in the early 19th century, the Teatro Petrarca has been a prominent structure since its inception and is renowned for its beautiful design and stunning interior.
Tucked away next to the basilica di San Francesco in the centre of the historic old town, the theatre is easy to access and a great structure to visit during a walking tour of the city.
Although the exterior of the theatre is quite plain, the interior is lavish and just what you would expect from a decadent Italian place of the arts.
Four levels of semi-circular private boxes frame the stage and are lined with beautiful red and gold decorations and there is an immense chandelier hanging from the ceiling.
If you love the theatre then ensure you try and see a show at this magnificent venue.
5. Museo Archeologico Mecenate
The archaeological museum of Arezzo is a true gem and contains some brilliant finds from the ancient world.
You can find this delightful and quiet museum in the southern part of the historic town centre not far from the Parco Sandro Pertini.
Created in 1937, the museum is housed within a fantastic ornate building and has a fine collection of relics and artefacts spanning a long period of history.
Items within the museum include 1st century earthenware, jewels from the Sole Necropolis, human remains from the 6th century and a selection of bronze weapons and tools.
Each display is beautifully presented and the whole museum is intriguing and provides great insight into the history of Arezzo and the surrounding region.
6. Basilica of San Francesco
From the outside, you would not expect much from this church – its front façade is quite plain and unfinished and features a single circular stained glass window.
Created in the 13th century, this is one of the oldest churches in Arezzo and is renowned for its interior decoration and Renaissance frescos.
Located in the heart of the city centre, this church is an absolute must for those who appreciate fine art and religious decoration.
The main feature of the basilica is the fresco entitled The Legend of the True Cross – this piece of artwork can be found inside the chancel and was created by Bicci di Lorenzo.
Every wall, arch and surface is covered with absolutely stunning paintings that depict this historic legend.
7. Church of Santa Maria della Pieve
You can find this delightful church on the western side of the Piazza Grande and it is recognized as one of the most beautiful and unique religious structures in Arezzo.
The front façade of this church is like no other and features three rows of beautiful stone archways.
Above the archways is a large bell tower that also features several floors of double arches.
At the rear apse, the church features a semi-circular design that has even more arches! Created in the 11th century, this church is the oldest remaining in Arezzo and stands as a testament to the ancient power and wealth of the city.
8. Museum of Medieval and Modern Art
Located on the Piaggia di Murello in close proximity to the Piazza Grande and Casa di Vasari, this art museum is one of the most important in the region and contains some fantastic pieces of both historical and modern art.
It is possible to buy a combined ticket for entry to this museum, the archaeological museum and Casa di Vasari.
Aside from the collection of gorgeous paintings from local artists, the museum also contains medieval arms and armour and a sublime coin collection.
9. Casa del Vasari
This beautiful palace is one of the most treasured establishments in Arezzo and is famed for its valuable frescos and decorative artwork.
Located in the north western part of the city centre in Via XX Setembre, the house was purchased by Vasari in the 16th century who used it as his personal canvas.
Each room is lavishly decorated and features some absolutely stunning works from the artist himself.
Created in a mannerist style, notable rooms include the Hall of the Muse, The Salon and the beautiful garden.
Vasari’s love of art is evident as you walk through this superb creation.
10. Parco Sandro Pertini
Arezzo benefits from several gorgeous public parks and the Parco Sandro Pertini is a pleasant place to walk through and relax.
Located in the southern part of the town centre on Viale Giotto this park is easily accessible from the historic centre.
Within the grounds of the park you can find a series of shaded areas covered by large beautiful trees that look fantastic in the summer.
Furthermore, there is a range of footpaths and cycle trails that run through the grounds.
Additionally there is a large pond and several lawns that are perfect for sunbathing and relaxing in the warm Italian weather.
11. Parco Passeggio del Prato
Whilst the Parco Sandro Pertini offers some fantastic space to relax and unwind, the Parco Passeggio del Prato has some interesting monuments and waking trails.
This park is located in-between Arezzo Cathedral and the Medicea Fort and is within walking distance of the Piazza Grande.
The central point of this park is the large Francesco Petrarca monument that sits directly opposite the bell tower of the cathedral.
Behind this monument is s large wooded area with some interesting varieties of trees and plants with paths that lead off into the surrounding fields.
This is a great place to walk, and it is advised to spend some time here when passing between the cathedral and fort.
12. Roman Amphitheatre
Next to the Archaeological Museum is the remains of Arezzo’s ancient Roman Amphitheatre.
Dating back to early antiquity, this amphitheatre was once a grand structure that would have held gladiatorial events and plays for the ancient Roman civilization of Arezzo.
Today you can still see the outline of the semi-circular theatre, the central stage (which is now a lawn) and several sections of the wall, seating area and supports.
13. Check out the antiques market
Arezzo is famed for its wealth of antiques and is a true bargain hunter’s goldmine.
If you are looking to pick up a fantastic deal or simply wander through masses of collectables, furniture and other historical items then this is the place to be! During every first Sunday of the month, Arezzo holds an antiques market.
This is like nothing you have seen – over 500 stalls pack the Piazza Grande and surrounding streets and the occasion can attract up to 30,000 visitors.
Even if you are not an avid antiques collector, the sights, sounds and hustle and bustle of the market is something to behold.
14. Lago Trasimeno
Lake Trasimeno is a wonderful natural lake located an hour’s drive to the east of Arezzo.
With a surface area of 128 square km, this lake is the fourth largest in Italy by area.
If you are looking for an exciting day trip from Arezzo then consider travelling to this gorgeous lake.
Several stunning lakeside towns sit on the shores of the lake including Castiglione del lago, Monte del Lago and Passignano sul Trasimeno.
These places are great to visit and feature some wonderful restaurants, historic architecture and beautiful views of Lake Trasimeno.
It is also possible to take a boat ride on the lake and visit some of the charming islands such as Isola Minore and Isola Maggiore.
15. Visit the town of Monte San Savino
This charming mountain town was one of the first settlements in the Tuscany region and records date it as far back as the 12th century.
Although small in size and containing a population of just 8,800, the town has a plethora of interesting sites such as the Plazzo di Monte, the Logge dei Mercanti, the Church of Santi Tiburzio and the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Vertighe.
Trains travel between Arezzo and Monte San Savino on a regular basis so this is a great place to visit for a day trip.