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Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy

Arezzo is a fairly large city in Tuscany about 70 km east of Siena and 30 km north of Cortona. It is worth spending the whole day visiting it, because it contains a large area of historical buildings and streets, crowned by the magnificent Piazza Grande, as well as Palazzo Dei Priori or Fortezza Medicea. Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) was born in Arezzo in 1304.

Parking in Arezzo

There are several parking lots to consider in Arezzo. As always, we were looking for one that is located near the old town. Our requirements are met by "Eden" (P1; GPS: 43.4596011, 11.8812900). It is a fairly large parking lot and also a good starting point for exploring Arezzo. It still had plenty of vacancies when we arrived. In addition, the great location allowed us to reach the old town in literally a few minutes. You can of course consider other places to stop, for example the Fanfani parking lot on the left side of the old town (P2; GPS: 43.465630, 11.877310) or the multi-storey Mecenate parking lot located a little further from the center to the south (but not too far) (P3; GPS: 43.455659 , 11.880664).

Visiting the old town of Arezzo

Our goal is to walk down the most important shopping street in Arezzo, i.e. Corso Italia, towards the very center. There we will see, among others, Palazzo Pretorio, Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Donato and of course Piazza Grande.

Corso Italia

From the "Eden" parking lot, we follow Via Francesco Crispi, then the short Via Margaritone towards Piazza Sant'Agostino (A; GPS: 43.4625344, 11.8818114), where we find the church of St. Augustine from the 13th century. Then, after drinking an espresso in the nearby cafe "Sandy", we enter Corso Italia. It is a pedestrianized street in the historic center, full of shops, bars and restaurants. There are also improvised initiatives that can catch the attention of visitors. The street leads slightly uphill. Going along it, we pass various interesting, historical buildings, for example the Chiesa dei SS Michele e Adriano at the small square Piazza San Michele (B; GPS: 43.4634378, 11.8817200) or the Basilica of St. Francis on the side street Via Cavour (C; GPS: 43.4645592, 11.8809047).

Santa Maria della Pieve

We finally reach the very center of Arezzo. The first thing that catches our eyes is the exceptionally interesting building of the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve from the 11th century (D; GPS: 43.4649681, 11.8833242). In fact, we wouldn't think it was a church, but just a secular palace. This is due to the fact that the building has a distinctive, beautiful façade consisting of three levels, each with more and more columns. The belfry is also more like a castle tower than a church tower. Architecture is really impressive.

Palazzo Pretorio

Another interesting building, located near the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve, is the Palazzo Pretorio from the 14th century (E; GPS: 43.4656786, 11.8837131). In the Middle Ages it was the residence of so-called "the captain of the people" with executive power in the city. The building's rich façade is decorated with the coats of arms of Arezzo's ruling captains. Inside there is the City Library.

The house of Petrarch

The famous poet, writer and philosopher Francesco Petrarca (Petrarch) was born in Arezzo in 1304. His house is located near Palazzo Pretorio, at Piazza Madonna del Conforto (F; GPS: 43.4660444, 11.8835467). The building has been turned into a museum and can be visited. Unfortunately, we weren't inside so we don't know if the museum is worth the 4€ ticket price. However, please read the reviews about the museum on Google. Petrarch later lived in Provence, in the beautiful village Fontaine-de-Vaucluse. He was the first person from antiquity to climb on April 26, 1336 to the summit of the Provencal mountain Mont Ventoux only because of the strictly aesthetic - obtaining exceptional views.

Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Donato

In the center of the city, on a place that used to be an acropolis in ancient times, is located the beautiful Arezzo Cathedral (G; GPS: 43.4671192, 11.8832703). The interior of this impressive 13th-century Gothic structure, visible from many points of the city, contains three aisles and is full of artistic works such as the beautiful stained glass windows by Guillaume De Marcillat, numerous paintings including "The Baptism of Christ" by Giorgio Vasari, or fresco by Piero della Francesca. On the main altar there is a huge marble urn called "Arca di San Donato" ("Ark of St. Donato"). The history of the belfry is interesting. In fact, this is the third belfry - the first one formed one body with the cathedral, so the loud sound of the bells destroyed several stained glass windows. The second was built a little further, but the aquifer damaged the foundations.

Piazza Libertà

Next to the cathedral, at Piazza Libertà, in a beautiful, historic building you can find the town hall of Arezzo (H; GPS: 43.4665194, 11.8821842). Palazzo Dei Priori was built in the 14th century and at the beginning it was the house of the priors. Then it underwent many restorations and modifications. At the entrance, in a niche, there is a miniature of the famous Chimera. Inside, the original wall paintings and frescoes have been preserved. The clock tower is one of the symbols of Arezzo.

Via Ricasoli

Going further the Via Ricasoli we reach the monument of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinand III di Lorena (I; GPS: 43.4671367, 11.8812908). A dozen or so meters from it you can see the deconsecrated church of St. Sebastian, currently the seat of the MUNACS museum (Museo Nazionale del Collezionismo Storico).

Parco Pubblico Del Prato

Between the cathedral and the fortress there is a large recreation area - the Prato public park (J; GPS: 43.4663697, 11.8851856). In its center there is a magnificent monument - of course, of Francesco Petrarch. It is worth using this place to rest and prepare for the next attractions!

Fortezza Medicea

The fort was built by the Duke of Tuscany, Cosmas I Medici in the middle of the 16th century (K; GPS: 43.4652269, 11.8869503). You can visit some of ancient Roman buildings, as well as walk around the walls and finally reach the upper floor of the building with a large terrace from which you will have the opportunity to admire the whole city of Arezzo and the hilly landscape of Tuscany. Ticket price - 5€ (possible discounts for children and seniors). The interiors contain art exhibitions.

Piazza Grande

We go towards one of the most interesting attractions of the city - Piazza Grande (L; GPS: 43.4646117, 11.8843058). It is unique because, unlike "normal" squares, it is not flat, but inclined at an angle, which makes it very impressive. It is a magical place where buildings from different epochs form one whole thing, providing us with many emotions. In the highest part of the square there is Palazzo delle Logge - a beautiful building designed by Vasari and completed in the 16th century. In the lower part, we have a complex of buildings from different periods. These include the 13th-century Torre Faggiolana, Palazzo Cofani Brizzolari and the 13th-century Casa dei Lappoli, Palazzo del Tribunale built between the 17th and 18th centuries, located between the Palazzo di Fraternita and the Pieve di Santa Maria apse. Some people believe that it is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. We had some "bad luck", because the city was getting ready for the concert, so parts of the square and some buildings were obscured by metal structures - but it made a great impression on us anyway!

The Roman Amphitheater in Arezzo

Returning to the "Eden" parking lot, it is worth visiting the amphitheater, which is located less than a hundred meters from the parking place (M; GPS: 43.4606169, 11.8800786). We head from Piazza Grande towards the parking lot, and walk the Via Borgunto and Vicolo della Volta streets. We again cross the Piazza Sant'Agostino. From there, we are literally minutes to the amphitheater - just walk down the Via Margaritone. The attraction was established in the 2nd century and held 18,000 spectators. Unfortunately, it is not as well preserved as, for example, the amphitheater in the Provencal city of Arles. There is also an archaeological museum with an exhibition of Etruscan products. One entrance to the amphitheater is through the museum, but if you don't want to see the exhibitions and only visit the ruins, all you have to do is enter through the nearby gate.

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