Arezzo is a Tuscan city that makes it easy to fall in love with the region.

Estimated reading time: 8 minutes


Arezzo is a medieval city situated atop a hill where it towers over four valleys. It’s also the capital of the region. Located in the southeastern part of Tuscany, Arezzo is known as the land of Piero del Francesca for the numerous paintings exhibited in the churches and museums. Piero was a major influence during the Italian Renaissance. The Church of Francesco features one of his most well known frescoes: The Legend of the True Cross. The adjacent Piazza Grande hosts jousting competitions twice a year. 

Like many Italian cities, artwork is everywhere. Step into a secluded vicolo (alley), and find the walls full of scrolled ironwork. Pass by a heavy wooden door and see an evocative knocker waiting to be rapped. Don’t hesitate to enter small bars like La Ciaccia where we had an espresso and a cappuccino for 2.50E. Each walk leads you to a new sight and a new interaction with someone with a story to share. 

Historical Sites Abound

Like many other locales, Tuscany’s Arezzo has Etruscan origins. There are remains mainly in the “Gaio Cilnio Mecenate” National Archaeological Museum. Etruscan ruins have fascinated me since my first trip to Siena, Volterra, and San Gimignano—towns that captivated my heart. The Etruscans existed in Italy between the Eighth and Third centuries BCE. It was a rich and artistic culture that Rome eventually absorbed. But finding glimpses of it leaves me feeling I discovered a treasure. The continuity of such rich history gives an ease to the city that visitors quickly embrace. 

On a sunny day, tour the Medici Fort—an impressive structure from the 1500s and covering many acres. The stroll is easy, but be prepared for a long hill. A bonus of trekking up? The sprawling city view. Tickets are worthwhile for the museum information and definitely for the vista.

On the adjacent grounds is the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donatus dating from the 1200s. One afternoon we stumbled upon choir practice and hearing the voices echoing in the Gothic building was delightful. Please check the link—they provide exceptional photos of the interior.

The Feel of Tuscany’s Arezzo

If I weren’t hooked on Arezzo from the start, the last night would have cinched it. We strolled looking for a dinner spot, ate another scrumptious meal, and continued wandering. At 100,000, the population is the right size for friendliness and a variety of businesses to fill the vicolo. The alleyways are broad and tidy with inviting shops. Saturday evening, they were full of people—small groups, solitary figures, many with dogs.

A drizzle began and umbrellas appeared from everywhere. An American recently told me that he wouldn’t travel to Europe because it’s the same as here. But it isn’t and here’s one reason: Where I live, no one walks to dinner in the rain. If they were out and rain came, they would scurry home. Not in Arezzo. Everyone continued visiting as if it were a sunny spring day. Remember the Munich Christmas Markets? Same as the Germans traipsing around in 1.5 feet of snow like it was Sunday in the park. We Americans have lost something, an endurance, perhaps that these folks have. Is it tied to their architecture lasting longer than ours? Or is your city different from mine?

Groups of teens walking on a rainy Arezzo night

Whatever it is, witnessing it was fun. Teens hung around the gelato and pizza shops just being teens. (That seems the same everywhere!) Parents pushing strollers didn’t vacate when the drops hit. They pulled the attached sleeping bag tightly around their kid and the plastic cover loosely over the stroller. I’ve only seen this rig at home once or twice. Come’n folks, cowboy up and get out there.

Discover Arezzo

That happens to be the title for the main website leading you to all sorts of great portals. One of the things we discovered is the strange story of the Arezzo is Chimera. I’d noticed this statue when we came out of the train station upon arriving. The fourth-fifth century Chimera of Arezzo is one of the most famous Etruscan bronzes ever discovered. The original is in the Archaeological Museum in Florence. Copies of the Chimera can be seen around Arezzo—including two at the train station.

Dining in Arezzo

At this point in my blog life, I probably don’t need to say too much about the food in Italy.

But I will.

The first lunch was taken in the Piazza Grande, at Essenza (the essence) Vasari Cafe. Housed in a long portico with several restaurants we chose Essenza for more than the menu. It’s not that I’m a huge fan of pink. As a former redhead, it wasn’t a color for me to wear. But on an early spring day, to come upon mauve table cloths and soft pink blankets was an invitation to sit. The young host, dressed in his immaculate black suit, was gracious and serene. Until a pigeon landed and he started talking to it. He laughingly said, “He’s been here for days and we call him Fonzi.” What are the odds, right?

Another delicious evening meal was pizza at Al Foghèr, a restaurant tucked down a corridor strung with inviting overhead lights. Scrolled on the wall is, Solo se ti rende felice, which translates to: Only if it makes you happy. This is a wonderful sentiment to ponder while you dine in the relaxing atmosphere. And check out their website—it’s one of the best restaurant sites I’ve cruised.

Leaving Arezzo

Departing from Arezzo made me sad. It is a welcoming and friendly city with a lot to offer. With only four days, I barely discovered the city’s treats. I’d love to return for a month and delve more deeply into all she has to offer.

Woman holding glass of red wine near the Piazza Grande in Arezzo
Cheers from Tuscany’s Arezzo – can’t wait to return!

When You Go

Stop by a visitor’s center and get a few of their great pamphlets. I carted home: in the land of Piero, Villages and Castles, the places of the Soul. They’re really well done, including color photos and sometimes maps. Yes, I’m a map geek, and make no apologies for it.

Getting To Tuscany’s Arezzo

From Milan train to Parma took about four hours. First class tickets are less than 40E. It was a quiet car and had tables at the seats. Great for a writer … or snacks. Check multiple train ticketing sites to get the best price.