Piero della Francesca’s frescoes – which belong in the same company as Masaccio’s cycle in Florence and Michelangelo’s in Rome – are what makes AREZZO a tourist destination, but in Italy the city is equally well known for its jewellers, its goldsmiths, and its trade in antiques: in the vicinity of the Piazza Grande there are shops filled with museum-quality furniture, and once a month the Fiera Antiquaria turns the piazza into a vast showroom.

Arezzo has been one of Tuscany’s most prosperous towns for a very long time. Occupying a site that controls the major passes of the central Apennines, it was a key settlement of the Etruscan federation, and grew to be an independent republic in the Middle Ages. In 1289, however, its Ghibelline allegiances led to a catastrophic clash with the Guelph Florentines at Campaldino; though Arezzo temporarily recovered under the leadership of the bellicose Bishop Guido Tarlati, it finally came under the control of Florence in 1384. Nowadays, while Florence’s economy has become over-reliant on tourist traffic, well-heeled Arezzo goes its own way, though in recent years it has started to market itself more seriously as a place to visit.

There are two distinct parts to Arezzo: the older quarter, at the top of the hill, and the businesslike lower town, much of which remains hidden from day-trippers, as it spreads behind the train station and the adjacent bus terminal. From the station forecourt, go straight ahead for Via Guido Monaco, the traffic axis between the upper and lower town. The parallel Corso Italia, now pedestrianized, is the route to walk up the hill.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Italy features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

20 picturesque Christmas destinations

Dreaming of a trip this Christmas? We're here to help. From glittering cities to a few snowy escapes, here are 20 classic destinations for a festive break. …

12 Dec 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Discovering Palermo: why you should give Sicily’s capital a chance

Discovering Palermo: why you should give Sicily’s capital a chance

A city of grit and forgotten grandeur, for too long Palermo has resigned itself to being a film set of crumbling palaces, sun-worn facades and pockmarked backst…

08 Dec 2017 • Olivia Rawes insert_drive_file Article
19 places to get utterly lost

19 places to get utterly lost

One of the great joys of travelling is stumbling across unexpected places, wandering without a single destination in mind and embracing the journey. These place…

12 Sep 2017 • Keith Drew camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right