Arezzo makes a great base for those wanting to explore the less travelled site of Tuscany. This charming town is an hours train ride from Florence, and has some intriguing attractions including famous frescoes by Piero della Francesca, and the remarkable Piazza Grande. => See all attractions in Arezzo.
From Arezzo you can explore the many scenic hilltop towns that dot Eastern Tuscany – from the ever-popular Cortona, to picturesque Anghiari and Lucignano where you can hike the Casentino Forest national park.
8 Day Trips from Arezzo, Tuscany
Cortona, one of Tuscany’s best loved hilltop towns, is located 32 kms. south of Arezzo. Its maze of old streets and Medieval buildings never seems to lose its charm, while a visit to the Museo dell’Accademia Etrusca will introduce you to the secrets of the Etruscans, with its impressive collection of Etruscan artefacts, that bear witness of the town’s ancient origin.
=> Discover the Top things to see and do in Cortona.
Half an hour’s drive east of Arezzo you find Anghiari, one of Tuscany’s best kept secrets. Its unmistakable silhouette, the narrow stone streets and ancient gateways, picturesque corners – houses with exposed bricks, lovely old doors – transport the visitor to a place of ancient, serene beauty. The town dominates the green Tiberina valley, offering endless views. It’s home to the Museo della Battaglia di Anghiari, where you can learn about the town’s history and the famous lost fresco by Da Vinci.
3. Sansepolcro and Monterchi, ‘Terre di Piero’
Not far from Anghiari, are two small towns that every art lover should visit: Sansepolcro and Monterchi. Sansepolcro is the birthplace of Early Renaissance master Piero della Francesca, and the town’s Museo Civico contains two of his masterpieces: the “Resurrection” and the “Madonna della Misericordia”. In the hamlet of Monterchi you can admire the intriguing “Madonna del Parto’ by the same artist.
Many couples visit Lucignano, a beautifully preserved little Medieval town 28 kms. south of Arezzo, to declare eternal love and look for the Tree of Love, a Gothic masterpiece of the goldsmith’s art that brings good luck to lovers. Lucignano lies in the Val di Chiana, between Siena and Arezzo.
Travelling north from Arezzo you enter the Casentino Valley, an area of low hills and beautiful thick forests. Poppi is the most attractive of them, if sleepy, with its handful of narrow streets and loggias that climb up around the mighty Castle of Conti Guidi. This remarkably well-preserved 13th century castle boasts a decorated courtyard, some frescoes and – like every castle worthy of the name – a ghost.
=> Poppi is located 39 kms. north of Arezzo – see top attractions of the Casentino area.
6. La Verna Sanctuary
For those seeking out unspoiled nature that moves the spirit, La Verna Sanctuary is the perfect spot. Built on a rocky outcrop atop of Mount La Penna – the ‘sacred mountain’ where Saint Francis received the stigmata – this religious site offers you a glimpse at the life of Italy’s most famous saint. It’s part of the Foreste Casentinesi National Park.
TIPS: If you’re planning a visit in high season and on weekends, expect lots of people as this is one of Italy’s hot spots for religious tourism. Autumn is a quiet and great time to visit, as the forest of fir and beech trees surrounding the monastery is a feast of beautiful colours.
(La Verna is located an hour and 30 minutes – 48 kms from Arezzo)
7. Loro Ciuffenna
Built on a gorge on the river Ciuffenna, this quaint and pretty town is well off the beaten track. You can expect an authentic and relaxed atmosphere. And you can find the oldest water mill in Tuscany, a lovely bridge and the ancient church of Santa Maria Assunta. (35 kms from Arezzo).
8. Castiglione fiorentino
Dominated by the bulky Cassero fortress, this small town located halfway between Arezzo and Cortona offers great views from atop its Medieval tower. Despite its small size, the town has some interesting museums: the Archeological Museum with the remains of an Etruscan temple, and the Pinacoteca with paintings by the school of Taddeo Gaddi.
=> Tip: visit on weekends to find museums open.