Arezzo is a province in Tuscany with a capital of the same name. Called
Arretium by its founders, the Etruscans, it has known many masters.
It was an important municipality of the Roman Empire before they came
under Goth rule, followed by the Byzantines, then the Lombard and
lastly Frankish rule. After so many rulers, Arezzo became a free municipality
late in the 11th century.
Arezzo is believed
to have been one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities, evidenced
by the portions of the Etruscan wall still standing on the hill
of Castelsecco and the two bronze statues found here: the Chimera
of Arezzo and the Minerva
The chimera is considered the symbol of this town.
The bronze statuette called the Chimera of Arezzo is one of the
oldest examples of Etruscan art. Upon its discovery, it was quickly
added to the collection of the Medici Grand Duke of Tuscany, Cosimo
I. It is currently on display in the Museo Archelogical Nacionale
While Arezzo may originally have been more an
agricultural hub and market for animals, they have moved on to become
an industrial town. The locals’ craftsmanship in gold has
made Arezzo a world center.
Forty percent of the city still retains its medieval
flavour. Much of the city stands unchanged in spite of the changing
political climate the province often found itself under. Visitors
will note that the oldest quarter of the city has retained its shape,
with portions surrounded by a wall from the 13th century.
Arezzo is easy to get to. It is accessible by
the Autostrade del Sole if you would like to drive up. If you prefer
to commute, the Milan-Florence-Rome railway line crosses the city.
One reason to go to Arezzo is the Giostra del
Saracino (Joust the Saracen). More than half the town dresses up
like the knights and ladies of yore. The men divide themselves into
teams representing the four quarters (neighborhoods of Arezzo).
Two representatives of each quarter in turn will “joust”
with the Buratto — a wooden target in armor on a stake, which
represents the ancient Saracens. Points are awarded according to
accuracy. It’s a day of fun, food and music in which most
of the town participates, some just to cheer on the competitors
and enjoy the pageantry.
If art is what you’ve come to see, you must
visit the church of San Francesco. In the Bacci chapel are the “Leggenda
della Croce” or the Legend of the True Cross frescoes. They
were painted by Piero della Fracesca in the 13th century.
Other places to visit in Arezzo are the Piazza
Grande or Piazza Vasari — this is where the Giostra del Saracino
takes place. It is the main square of the city and one of the most
interesting with the different facades composing its sides —
the Palazzo Tribunale, the Palazzo della Fraterniata dei Laici (Palace
of the Lay Fraternity) and the Palazzo delle Logge.