Atop one of the many hills in Arezzo, was a view as beautiful as any I saw during my two weeks in Tuscany. Tucked in the knolls and valleys of the vineyards were enviable villas close to a city center but in the country. One such luxury villa is available through IVHE, and may be more affordable than you think through a home exchange program. To see how this works, click here.
Arezzo, the capital of the province with the same name, is larger than most cities in Tuscany with approximately 100,000 residents. It is 80 kilometers (close to 50 miles) southeast of Florence, and surrounded by quaint villages and farmland. The first thing I noticed driving into Arezzo was the medieval wall which surrounds most of it. Its historical appearance belies the fact that it is a great city in which to obtain provisions while traveling through Tuscany. Parking was plentiful, and I found the residents helpful to tourists.
Other notable architectural surprises in Arezzo are the Medici Fortress and Roman Amphitheater. Built in the sixteenth century, The Medici Fortress is on the highest point in the city and has a unique, pentagonal shape. The Roman Amphitheater was built at the end of the first century and the beginning of the second century. Repeatedly sacked and its materials taken to build other structures, its full glory does not remain, yet it is worth seeing.
Dating back to the second half of the thirteenth century is the Basilica di San Francesco. Within its walls are the precious frescos of “The Legend of the True Cross,” by Piero della Francesca. The Piazza San Francesco in which the Basilica is located, is very pleasant and has a cozy feel. I enjoyed a cappuccino very near both the statue of St. Francis and the basilica.
Another beautiful church is the Arezzo Cathedral . Construction of this church also began in the late thirteenth century and also contains a fresco by Piero della Francesca—this fresco is of Mary Magdalen.
Medieval and renaissance architecture is a fitting setting for the monthly Arezzo Antiques Market. Held two days a month, there is everything there for the serious collector or serious browser.
In addition to its historic art, antiques, and architecture, the father of both the sonnet and humanism was born in Arezzo—Francesco Petrarca or “Petrarch” as he is also known. His poems to his beloved Laura are a template for idealized love, and his study of the Classical Era gave him hope that humanity would again rise to such philosophical and artistic heights.
Though Arezzo offers significant historic artistry, it also offers modern creativity. Roberto Benigni’s award-winning film, “Life is Beautiful” was filmed in Arezzo; a tour is offered to see where the film was shot.
If you would like to visit the birthplace of Petrarch and see other delights that Arezzo has to offer—and if Tuscany is one of your vacation imaginings, consider a luxury home exchange near Arezzo. You’ll be glad you did.