Get the low down on the top things to do in Arezzo in Tuscany. From a relaxing lunch in the scenic Piazza Grande, to a close encounter with the town’s famous artists Giorgio Vasari and Piero della Francesca.
Want to know where to see Etruscan artefacts or buy some of Arezzo’s famous artisan crafts? Maybe you just want to know where to grab lunch? You’ll find it all here, and more.
10 Inspiring Things to do in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy
1. Have Lunch in Piazza Grande
The sloping Piazza Grande is easily one of Tuscany’s most impressive squares. Flanked by beautifully preserved Medieval buildings, and the elegant loggia designed by Renaissance architect Vasari, this piazza is Arezzo’s heart and soul. Here Roberto Benigni shot the first part of his Oscar winning film “La vita è bella” (Life is Beautiful). Have lunch in this square, and surrounded by all this beauty you may just be inspired to great things.
2. Awe at Piero della Francesca’s frescoes
While we’re on the subject of inspiration, the absolute highlight for art devotees in Arezzo is the series of frescoes by Piero della Francesca. This superbly original artist, born not far from Arezzo, in 1452 was called to decorate the Church of San Francesco’s major chapel. Today his “Legend of the True Cross” fresco cycle, is considered one of the masterworks of Italian Early Renaissance.
3. Take time to explore the church of Santa Maria della Pieve
This is Romanesque architecture at its best. The most striking feature of Santa Maria della Pieve is the intricate facade, with its profusion of arches and columns carved from local sandstone. The apse dominates the west side of Piazza Grande, adding interesting eye-catching touches to the square. Inside, you find traces of some 14th century frescoes and an atmospheric crypt where the silver and gold reliquary bust of San Donato is kept.
4. Casa Vasari House and the Lives of the Artists
If you love art, the one house in Arezzo you really have to see is that of Giorgio Vasari. This mannerist artist is famous for having frescoed the interior of the Florentine Duomo, built the Vasari Corridor in Florence and written “The Lives of the Artists” where he collected many anecdotes about the greatest Renaissance masters. This architect/painter/historian was the first to put the term ‘Renaissance’ to paper.
He was born in Arezzo, where he bought a house in 1540. When he wasn’t travelling between Florence and Rome, he devoted himself to decorating his home, according to Mannerist tastes. You can almost feel the presence of the artist here, with all his dreams and passions. There are explanations in English that give a taste of his life, plus a collection of 15th and 16th century paintings. Casa Vasari is in via XX Settembre 55 (see official site).
⇒ You can get the combination ticket that’ll get you into the Archeologial museum, the Vasari House and the San Francesco Church with the amazing frescoes (Price: 12 euros).
5. Eat local
The Chianina breed of cattle originally comes form this area of Tuscany, the Valdichiana, so having a steak or a tagliata is a must. In Arezzo they love their meat, and traditional cuisine includes lots of different kinds of meat (beef and pork, but also duck and rabbit) and meat based sauces. Sausages and ham are also top-quality. An excellent potato from Cetica is used for the Tortelli di patate typical of the nearby Casentino.
⇒ Find out about traditional Tuscan dishes.
6. The Duomo of Dan Donato
Arezzo’s Cathedral is renowned for its stain glass windows, the monumental tomb of Guido Tarlati (1330ca.) and the wall painting by Piero della Francesca “Mary Magdalene”. This amazingly original artist completed this work while he was frescoing the church of San Francesco. His Mary Magdalene is a luminous and deeply intense portrait that is typical of his style.
7. Meet the Etruscan at the Museo archeologico Mecenato
The Archeological Museum is located right next to the ruin of the Roman amphitheatre. It hosts a collection of artifacts from Prehistoric, Etruscan and Roman times, found in Arezzo and its surroundings. It’s well organised and there are explanations about the Etruscan artifacts. The Aretine vases (vasi corallini) with their distinctive red colour are particularly interesting.
⇒ Fans of the Etruscan? Check out the Guarnacci Etruscan Museum in Volterra.
8. Museo Arte Medievale e Moderna
Art lovers will enjoy this museum that has an interesting collection of Medieval sculpture and paintings – specifically an overview of the varied art of Arezzo from the 13th to early 20th century. The major works are from the Medieval and Renaissance period, including important paintings from local artists such as Giorgio Vasari and Luca Signorelli. It also hosts a famed collection of Renaissance pottery.
9. Go back in time at the Medieval festival giostra
A real Medieval style joust in the beautiful Piazza Grande takes place on the 3rd Saturday of June and the first Sunday of September. The knights on their horses have to hit a wooden target held by a mannequin in the shape of a Saracen. There is a parade before the joust, with hundreds of participants dressed in historic costumes. Flag throwers and musicians lend it all a bit of extra atmosphere. It’s one of the most spectacular Medieval Festivals in Tuscany.
10. Find a treasure at the antique market
The monthly Arezzo Antique Fair is much more than an antique fair. This town, celebrated for its artisan tradition, attracts hundreds of exhibitors from all over Italy. You find all sorts of antiques and vintage treasures including books, paintings, prints, furniture, brick-a-brac, jewellery.
It takes place every first Sunday and the Saturday before in Piazza Grande from 8am to 8pm (on Saturday), 8am to 7pm (it closes an hour earlier from end October to end of March) link official site.This colourful fair is a great opportunity to see the town at one of its liveliest moments.
On the same theme, visit the Casa Museo Ivan Bruschi, the wealthy art dealer and collector who started the fair in 1968.
⇒ Discover some great Tuscany itineraries created around your interests!