Arezzo stands at the edge of a fertile plain in the north of the Valdichiana. It is 90 kilometers from Florence and 240 from Rome; there are frequent trains from both. The trip from Florence takes a little less than an hour, while the journey from Rome takes about two.
Arezzo's historic old town is small enough to explore on foot. If you have a car, you can park in one of the municipal lots, then walk up into the historic centre.
Piazza Grande, the most beautiful square in Arezzo, is an irregular sloping square and is surrounded by marvellous old buildings. Its landmarks are the 14th-century church of Santa Maria della Pieve, with a late-romanesque facade embellished by many columns and a tall campanile, and a loggia designed by the Mannerist painter and architect Giorgio Vasari. The Piazza Grande in fact is officially called the Piazza Vasari; the artist and author of the ''Lives of the Painters'' was born in Arezzo, and his house in the north of town is maintained as a museum.
The Piazza Grande hosts the Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen) twice a year and is the setting for the Antiques Market once a month.
La Vita Ť Bella (Life is Beautiful) Roberto Benigni's Academy Award-winning film was shot here in Arezzo, and as you proceed through the city centre, you will see signs featuring pictures from the film at the specific locations of actual filming.
Once a month the Antiques Market 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 in the days of the Antiques Market itís best to leave it in the Pietri parking lot and go up to the Duomo on the escalator.
Not being a big touristic city like Florence it is most recommended to walk in the charming old city center along the small alleys, enjoy its quiet streets and browse the multitude of independent artisan shops and little restaurants.
A good panoramic view of the city can be seen walking through the Il Prato park up to the Medicea fortress. Not to be missed is the Duomo main church set in a surrounding flight of steps, just by the Il Prato park. A stopover for a drink or espresso at one of the bars in Piazza San Francesco facing the San Francesco 14th Century church is also recommended, just before strolling down the Corso Italia main road or the parallel Via Madonna del Prato.
Local market: Saturday morning
EVENTS AND FESTIVALS
The Antiques Market | First Sunday of every month and preceding Saturday
The Joust of the Saracen | Every year on the Saturday before the last in June (notturna, the evening one) and on the first Sunday of September (pomeridiana, afternoon). Minor celebrations and ceremonies throughout the year.
Arezzo Play Art Festival | Last weekend of July