AREZZO - Tuscany - Travel Guide & Hotels
AREZZO TRAVEL GUIDE
Arezzo is a Tuscan city of 99,487 inhabitants. It is located in an area that has already been inhabited in ancient times, as evidenced by the discovery of the remains of the famous "Uomo dell'Olmo", together with various flint tools: the discovery took place in 1865, during the works for the construction of a tunnel along the Rome - Florence railway, and the analyzes conducted on the remains have shown that the find dates back to about 50,000 years ago: it is the first example found in Italy of this kind, and today it is kept in the Museum of Prehistory in Florence.
There are traces of stable settlements dating back to pre-Etruscan and Etruscan times, as shown by numerous finds of city walls, and in fact Arezzo was one of the main Etruscan cities, together with Orvieto and Cortona. The famous Chimera, a bronze statue dating from to the 5th century b.C., dates back to this period, has become a symbol of the city of Arezzo (even if it is kept in Florence, at the National Archaeological Museum). In 295 b.C., after a strenuous resistance, Arezzo along with other Etruscan cities, was conquered by the Romans, becoming a strategic point during the Roman expansion of the Republican era. At the fall of the Empire, Arezzo finds itself on the border between the possessions of the Goths and those of the Exarchate of Ravenna, and it is in this period that the typical medieval conformation of the city is born. The thirteenth century was a particularly prosperous period for the city, which led to the foundation, in 1215, of the Studium Aretino, one of the first Italian universities. After numerous battles, at the end of 1300 Arezzo became part of the territories of the Tuscan State, under the domination of the city of Florence, of which it will continue to be part until the French invasion of 1796, led by Napoleone Bonaparte, and then to the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy, in 1860.
what to see and what to do in Arezzo
- Particularly Piazza Grande, characterized by a difference in level of 10 meters that served to channel rainwater: on one side you can admire the Loggia designed by Vasari, whose particularity are the beautiful arches from which you can see the square in its greatness, with its numerous medieval tower-houses, the Fraternita dei Laici palace and the back of the Pieve of Santa Maria, one of the most evocative examples of Romanesque architecture in Tuscany. Very interesting are the 12 polychrome sculptures flanking the lunette above the entrance door and representing the 12 months of the year, while the inside of the church is splendidly austere, almost bare, with the gray stone of walls and columns that recalls the sacredness of its function, with the only exception of the altarpiece of 1320, admirably painted.
- The Duomo is very different, with its three naves divided into six spans with barrel vaults, frescoed by Guillame de Marcillat and Salvi Castellucci, and illuminated by the numerous rose window on the right side (those on the left wall have been walled up), and by that of the facade, as well as by the windows placed behind the high altar. Here you can admire the magnificent Ark of San Donato, a marble sculpture of 1300 dedicated to the patron saint of the city. Very beautiful the chapel of the Madonna del Conforto, in neo-Gothic style, built between the late 1700s and early 1800s, which contains the image of the patron saint of the diocese of Arezzo - Cortona - San Sepolcro and which, according to legend, has miraculously made that the earthquakes of 1796 were suddenly interrupted. A little curiosity: the bell tower was rebuilt three times over the centuries: the first, built together with the cathedral, damaged the windows with the vibrations created by the bells themselves, the second was built over an aquifer that made it unstable, the last one was built as a building on its own, and only later joined to the rest of the building through the construction of the apartments of the guardian of the Duomo.
- In a raised position there is the Medici Fortress, built by the will of Cosimo I de Medici in 1500 on what remained of the ancient defensive walls of the city: it has a pentagonal base structure, with five bastions that surround it. Recently the Fortress has been restored and now hosts concerts and exhibitions, as well as being the ideal place for those looking for a little relaxation, perhaps in the company of a good book.
- Worth a visit are the ruins of the Roman Amphitheater, designed in ancient times to accommodate up to 13,000 people: today unfortunately only its skeleton remains, but visiting the Archaeological Museum you can admire its ancient splendor.
Events in Arezzo - Giostra del Saracino
Various events take place in Arezzo:
- every first Sunday of the month, in the magnificent setting of Piazza Grande, there is the Antiques Fair, one of the most important in the sector, which attracts tourists and enthusiasts from all over the world in search of a good opportunity to do great business.
- The second half of April takes place the Ardita, historical bike race of Poti Alp, for vintage bicycles, from sports with the steel frame to the classic "Graziella", characterized by trade show and now a classic route through suggestive places in Arezzo and its province, following the traces of great champions such as Coppi, Girardengo and Bartali.
- Of course, however, the most important event is the Giostra del Saracino, historical re-enactment that is organized twice a year, the third Saturday of June and the first Sunday of September in Piazza Grande. The whole city dresses with medieval clothes to parade through the streets while the four districts challenge each other to win the Gold Spear, after the performance of the flag-wavers.
- At Christmas, the city hosts the traditional Christmas markets, inside the Medici Fortress, where food and wine stands and local crafts are set up (remember that Arezzo is also called the city of gold for the fame of its goldsmiths).