Arezzo's origins as a place of human habitation date far back into the Stone Age. Its history begins no later than the 4th century BC, when it was called Aretim and was one of 12 hill towns of the Etruscan League (the list also included what are now called Perugia, Chiusi, Cortona and Volterra). After the Romans took over Etruria, they called this city Arretium. In the 11th century, Arezzo was made a free commune, siding with the Ghibellines. Arezzo is also famous for Guido d'Arezzo, the Medieval abbot who originated solfeggio (the mnemonic music system known to many from the song in The Sound of Music that starts "Doe, a deer") at the Duomo in the early 11th century.
Nowadays, Arezzo is an agricultural trade centre; has machine, clothing, gold, and jewellery industries; and is a tourist centre.
There are bus connections with other important destinations in Tuscany, including Florence and Siena.
Arezzo's historic old town is small enough to explore on foot. If you have a rental car, you can park in one of the municipal lots for under €10 for the entire day, then walk up into the historic centre. Note that Arezzo is atop a steep incline, and you will feel as though you are walking uphill pretty much everywhere. Wear comfortable shoes.
ATAM runs the city bus service (there is also a "Centro Storico" line that covers the historic old town).
The taxi service is efficient and not too expensive.
- Piazza Grande, the most beautiful square in Arezzo, is surrounded by marvelous old buildings and hosts the Giostra del Saracino twice a year.
- Arezzo Cathedral (Duomo), Piazza del Duomo. Daily 7AM-12:30PM and 3-6:30PM.
- Church of San Domenico, Piazza San Domenico 7. Daily 8:30am-6pm. Gothic church famous for the painted Crucifixion by Cimabue. Also has beautiful 16th-century stained glass windows.
- Church of San Francesco, Piazza San Francesco, ☎ . This Medieval church is famous for the frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca.
- Church of Santa Maria della Pieve, Corso Italia 7, ☎ .
- Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, via S. Maria delle Grazie 1.
- Museo del Duomo, (on the back side of the Duomo).
- Museo Archeologico "Gaio Cilnio Mecenate", Via Margaritone 10
- Museo Statale d'Arte Medievale e Moderna, Via San Lorentino 8
- House-Museum of Ivan Bruschi. Corso Italia 14
Of cultural interest
- Casa del Petrarca Only open if you knock and ask nicely if you can come in; this is the home of famous Italian medieval poet Petrarch. Hours vary depending on the mood of the proprietor, but it is totally worth it.
- La Vita è Bella Roberto Begnini's Academy Award-winning film was shot here in Arezzo, and as you proceed through the city centre, you will see colorful signs featuring pictures from the film at the specific locations of actual filming. Spend at least an hour wandering from sign to sign.
- The Antiques Fair that occupies Piazza Grande and many of the streets leading to it, with an array of some 500 stalls by which is fun to browse though. Arriving by car it's best to leave it in the Pietri free parking lot and go up to the Duomo on the escalator.
- Dates: Takes place on the first Sunday and the Saturday preceding it of every month.
- Not being a big touristic city like Firenze it is most recommended to stroll in the charming old city center along the small alleys and enjoy its quiet streets. a good panoramic view of the city can be seen from the tower of "Palazzo dei Priori" in Piazza della Libertà, or walking through the "Il Prato" park up to the Medicea fortress.
- Arezzo is home to an annual medieval festival called the Joust of the Saracens (Giostra del Saracino). In this, "knights" on horseback representing different areas of the town charge at a wooden target attached to a carving of a Saracen king and score points according to accuracy. Virtually all the town's people dress up in medieval costume and enthusiastically cheer on the competitors.
- Dates: The third Sunday of June and on the first Sunday of September.
- The Arezzo Festival [dead link] - an annual summer theatre festival that brings together emerging professional and university-based performance groups from all over the world.
Arezzo is famous for its cuisine too. The most famous dishes of Arezzo are Acquacotta, a bread soup made with porcini mushrooms and Ribollita, a bread soup made with many different vegetables. But you can also taste the wonderful Chianina Steak and all sorts of pastas. Arezzo's wines are also very much appreciated all around the world.
- La Taverna del Pittore, via Vittorio Veneto 72, ☎ . 19:00-23:00. € 15-30.
- Il Saraceno, Via Mazzini 6 (Just east of the Corso d'Italia in the old town), ☎ . Great place featuring local Aretine and Tuscan favorites. Good selection of wines. Lots of locals, not so many tourists.
- Trattoria del Leone, Piazza del Popolo 11, ☎ . This restaurant offers high-quality modern adaptations of traditional favorites with aplomb. Menus for 25 or €20 or order à la carte.
- Il Boccon del Re, Via Carvour 42, ☎ . Just off the Piazza San Francesco this place offers a menu of Tuscan fare and pizzas. Try the Pici or anything with a truffle sauce.
- Miseria e Nobiltà, Piaggia S.Bartolomeo 2 (near Piazza Grande), ☎ . 11:30-24:00. €15-30.
- Enoteca Charleston, Via della Chimera 121 (Just outside the old-town). 06:00-20:30. An enoteca run by the Mearini family with good selection of wines in eastern Tuscany. Let Stefano or Paolo help you find a bottle - something for dinner or that special occasion - or enjoy wines by the glass. Open for coffee and pastries at breakfast time.
- Terra di Piero, Piazza San Francesco 3 (Right next to the Basilica San Francesco), ☎ . A very small wine bar with a selection of wines by the glass that change daily and a wider selection of bottles. They also have an assortment of items in a deli case in case you want some antipasti.
- Il Paradisino, ☎ , fax: . Delle paniere. Rates: Double €50-60.
- Podere il Doccio, ☎ . Località Cicogna 112 Terranuova Bracciolini. Typical Tuscan farmhouse with pool divided in self-catering apartments. Rates from 50€/night per apartment.
- Casa di Vignolo, Piazza del comune 8 Pergine Valdarno, ☎ , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. All the floors of this villa are in 'cotto toscano' (original Tuscan tiles) and the walls are the original stones or painted with natural colour. The large living room has an enormous fireplace still working (you can ask for the wood), the beautiful veranda is the original stones and bricks. All the furniture is antique and originally property of the family. The house has four bedrooms which can sleep 7 people : 2 doubles, 1 with two single beds, another one with a single bed. There are 2 bathrooms both with shower. from 100€/night.
- Casa di Vignolo. Pergine Valdarno.
- Hotel Continentale, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Piazza Guido Monaco n.7. Operating for more than 50 years. Elegant atmosphere with professional and qualified staff, recently renovated, both outside and inside. The hotel has 73 rooms, three suites, three conference rooms, elegant and spacious living rooms, a lobby bar and a wide breakfast room.
- Farm Holidays in Tuscany Il Pino, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org. Farmhouse in Tuscany and organic farming, production of wine, olive oil.
- Etrusco Palace Hotel, Via Fleming 39. Tel. +39 0575-984066, Fax. +39 0575-382131, email: email@example.com. Rates: €143-214.
- Hotel & Apartment Villa Cassia Di Baccano, Via Setteponti Levante, 132. Tel. +39 055-9772310, Fax +39 055-9772898, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Single €113-180, Double €157-260, Triple €171-290, Quadriple (2 bathrooms) €190-330.
- Relais Villa I Bossi B&B, ☎ , fax: , e-mail: email@example.com. Bed and Breakfast in Tuscany, in a relais with a beautiful and quiet Italian-style gardens with two swimming pool.
Information offices - Piazza della Repubblica, 28 Tel: 0575 377678 Fax: 0575 20839, firstname.lastname@example.org
Centro Accoglienza e Informazioni Turistiche - Via Ricasoli Tel: 0575 377829