With its grand piazzas, hilltop views, and medieval buildings and streets, Arezzo is one of the prettiest towns in Tuscany. On a visit here, you can fill your time by visiting the churches and art museums, enjoying the views from the fortress, shopping for antiques, and learning about jousting. In this guide, we cover the best things to do in Arezzo with helpful tips to plan your visit.
Table of Contents
Interesting Facts about Arezzo
Arezzo is located near the southeast corner of Tuscany, not far from Cortona.
Arezzo is called the city of art, both for the frescoes and sculptures that adorn its churches and also because it was the residence of Giorgio Vasari (a famous Renaissance artist who painted the dome of the Florence Cathedral).
On the third Saturday in June and the first Sunday of September, a historical reenactment of the Saracen Joust is held in Piazza Grande. It would be an awesome sight to see, so if you have plans to visit Tuscany during this time, try to make it to Arezzo. If your timing doesn’t work out, you can learn more about the Saracen Joust at the Saracen Jousting Museum, which is one of the best things to do in Arezzo.
Arezzo was used as a filming location for Roberto Benigni’s movie Life is Beautiful. This is where the main characters lived before they were sent to a Nazi concentration camp. This movie won three academy awards, the Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival in 1998, and two European film awards.
Best Things to Do in Arezzo
1. Spend Some Time in Piazza Grande
Piazza Grande is the main square in Arezzo and often considered to be one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. This is also the location of the Saracen Joust reenactments held twice a year.
Piazza Grande | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
Piazza Grande and the monthly antique market
This large square is surrounded by some of the most important buildings in the town.
Logge del Vasari (Vasari Loggia) is the colonnaded building that sits on the north side of Piazza Grande.
Medieval houses run along the eastern side of the square. If you are in town near the time when the jousting festivals take place, these buildings are adorned with the banners of the houses.
The back of Santa Maria della Pieve is a prominent feature on the square, as is the Museum of Fraternita and its clock tower.
During the monthly antique market, this square is filled with stalls selling antiques.
We had a great lunch in Piazza Grande, and a great view, at Osteria Grande, dining on grilled octopus and pasta.
Osteria Grande | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
2. The Palace of Fraternita dei Laici
This beautiful building sits on Piazza Grande, next to Santa Maria della Pieve.
Palace of Fraternita dei Laici | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
The outside of the building is adorned with sculptures created by Bernardo Rossellino: the Madonna della Misericordia and statues of Pope Blessed Gregory X and St. Donald.
On top of the palace is one of the oldest functioning clocks in Italy. This is such a notable place to visit that it gets its own entry next.
You can simply admire this building from Piazza Grande or you can go inside to visit the Museum of Fraternita, which contains more than 6000 paintings, sculptures, and antique furnishings.
Mural painting of Madonna della Misericordia
3. Enjoy the View from the Clock Tower
The clock that sits on top of Palace of Fraternita dei Laici is one of the oldest functioning clocks in Italy. It was completed in 1552 by Felice di Salvatore da Fossato and it continues working today.
The main reason to visit the clock tower is for the view over Piazza Grande. It’s one of the best viewpoints of the town.
Piazza Grande | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
Another view of Piazza Grande
To visit the clock tower, you enter through the Palace of Fraternita dei Laici. There is a small entrance fee to visit the museum.
4. The Church of Santa Maria della Pieve
Santa Maria della Pieve is a church that dates back to 1008. Most of what we see today was constructed in the 12th and 13th centuries and the bell tower was added in 1330. The frescoes on the interior of the church were added in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 16th century, Giorgio Vasari created the altar and choir stalls.
Notable things to see inside of Santa Maria delle Pieve are the Polyptych by Pietro Lorenzetti and the Reliquary bust of Saint Donatus by Pietro Vanni and Paolo Ghiselli.
Inside the Church of Santa Maria della Pieve | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
5. Stroll along Corso Italia
Corso Italia is the main thoroughfare through Arezzo. It starts near Santa Maria della Pieve and runs downhill towards the train station. This busy pedestrian street is lined with shops, cafes, and during the antique fair, many stalls selling antiques and artwork.
Corso Italia | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
6. Go Shopping at the Antique Market
On the first Sunday of every month, Piazza Grande and the side streets are filled with vendors selling antiques. Approximately 400 stalls are set up throughout the city, selling jewelry, artwork, furniture, toys, home goods, and clothing.
We just happened to be in Arezzo on the first Sunday of October. The city center had a very festive vibe and was quite busy, both with visitors and those shopping for antiques.
Arezzo antique market | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
7. The Basilica of San Francesco
This is one of the most important churches in Arezzo. What makes it so important are the frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross by Pietro della Francesca.
Construction of the church was finished in 1377, although the façade was never completed. Most of the frescoes were added in the 15th century. The Legend of the True Cross frescoes are an early Renaissance masterpiece.
If you want to see the frescoes, you will need to book a ticket in advance. Daily visitation is limited and tickets were sold out for the day we visited Arezzo. Learn more here.
Basilica of San Francesco Arezzo | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
8. Basilica of San Domenico
This small basilica is a short walk from the city center of Arezzo but it is worth the visit to see the Crucifix by Cimabue and the frescoes that cover the walls of the church, including the Crucifixion by Parri di Spinello.
Basilica of San Domenico
Inside the Basilica of San Domenico | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
9. Piazza della Libertà
Piazza della Libertà is another large square in Arezzo. Sitting around this square are the town hall (Palazzo dei Priori) and its clock tower, the Arezzo Cathedral, the Saracen Jousting Museum, and the Mudas Museum.
Arezzo Cathedral | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
10. The Arezzo Cathedral
The Arezzo Cathedral, also called the Duomo and the Cathedral of San Donato, dates back to the 13th century. The grand interior contains beautiful stained-glass windows created in the 1500’s, a bas-relief of The Baptism of Jesus by Donatello, the Chapel of the Madonna del Conforto, and colorful frescoes that cover the ceiling of the nave.
Inside the Arezzo Cathedral
Chapel of the Madonna del Conforto
11. Vasari’s House (Casa Vasari)
Giorgio Vasari was an architect, writer, and painter. He was born in Arezzo and some of his most famous contributions include The Last Judgement frescoes on the dome of the Florence Cathedral (the Florence Duomo), the Tomb of Michelangelo in the Basilica of Santa Croce in Florence, paintings on the walls and ceilings in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, the Vasari Corridor in Florence, and The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, which is an encyclopedia of artistic biographies.
He lived in Arezzo and adorned the walls of his house with paintings. It is now a museum.
Casa Vasari | marcobrivio.photography/shutterstock.com
For hours and pricing, click here. During our visit, the house did not open until the mid-afternoon, which is very different than the hours listed on the official website. I’m not sure if this was because of the antique market, but this happened quite frequently throughout Tuscany, when hours on the official website did not align with the actual hours the museums were open.
12. The Saracen Jousting Museum
The Saracen Jousting Museum, also called the I Colori della Giostra museum, has exhibits and artifacts of the jousting reenactments that are held in Arezzo. It is a quick, entertaining museum to visit, with videos and the garments worn by the jousters.
Saracen Jousting Museum | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
It is located on Piazza della Libertà. Get hours and pricing here.
13. Arezzo Park
Arezzo Park is a tranquil green space just a short walk from Piazza della Libertà and the end of Corso Italia. It’s a nice place to go for a stroll. Plus, there are two very nice viewpoints from places in and around the park.
The Arezzo Park sits right beside the fortress, so these two sites can easily be combined together.
Arezzo Park | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
From the northern end of the park, you get a view over the rolling hills of Tuscany:
On the south side of the park, next to Tempietto alla Vittoria, you get a very nice view looking down Corso Italia and along Via dell’Orto towards the clock tower of the town hall. This photo spot is labeled on our map below as “viewpoint of Corso Italia.”
The view of Corso Italia | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
14. Fortezza Medicea
For more great vantage points of Arezzo and the Tuscan countryside, visit Fortezza Medicea (the Medici Fortress). Located on the hilltop of Arezzo, this fortress was built in the 1500’s.
Fortezza Medicea | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
As you walk the walls, not only do you get a great view of Arezzo but the views of the green rolling hills of Tuscany are spectacular. One of the most interesting viewpoints is of the Arezzo cemetery.
Art exhibits are also held inside of the fortress.
A visit here lasts about 30 minutes. Learn more here.
15. The Archaeological Museum & Roman Amphitheater
The Gaio Clinio Mecenate National Archaeological Museum sits on the outskirts of the Arezzo city center. It contains artifacts from Etruscan and Roman periods, on display throughout 26 galleries on two floors of the building. This museum also overlooks the Roman Amphitheater of Arezzo.
Get hours and pricing here.
16. Mudas Museum
The Mudas Museum (Museo Diocesano di Arte Sacra) is located on Piazza della Libertà. It contains frescoes by Giorgio Vasari and Luca Signorelli and sacred jewelry, the most important being the “Pace di Siena.”
Get hours and pricing here.
Mudas Museum | Best Things to Do in Arezzo
Things to Do in Arezzo: On a Map
How to Use This Map: Click the icons on the map to get more information about each place to visit. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view it on your phone or computer, open Google Maps, click the menu button, go to “Your Places,” click Maps, and you will see this map on your list.
How Much Time Do You Need in Arezzo?
With a half of a day, you can see most what is listed above, if you move very quickly. A full day is ideal, to get to everything on our list, plus have lunch and/or dinner in Arezzo.
Where to Eat in Arezzo
We had a great lunch at Osteria Grande, which sits on Piazza Grande. Typically, restaurants on the main squares in Italy get mediocre reviews for their food, but this restaurant is different. Everything we had was delicious and the setting is unbeatable. However, it is a bit pricey.
Other recommended restaurants include Trattoria Cavour 24 (a highly rated restaurant serving traditional Italian dishes), Ristorante La Pieve (on Corso Italia across from Santa Maria della Pieve), La Chiavi D’Oro (a Michelin-starred restaurant), and Teorema del Gusto (a restaurant in a cave like setting).
Dining at Osteria Grande
How to Get to Arezzo
Arezzo is located in the southeast corner of Tuscany. You can get here by bus, train, car, and on a tour.
There are three train stations in Arezzo. The main station is located on Piazza della Repubblica, on the southwest side of town. From here, it is a quick walk up Corso Italia or Via Guido Monaco to get to the main sites in town.
From Florence, there are frequent trains to Arezzo and the journey takes 1 hour to one and a half hours, depending on the speed of the train.
The bus station is located next to the main Arezzo train station. If you are traveling by bus, there are frequent buses from Siena to Arezzo.
Arezzo is also easy to get to by car. Here are the driving distances and times from nearby destinations:
- Cortona: 30 km, 45 minutes
- Florence: 77 km, 1 hour 15 minutes
- Siena: 70 km, 1 hour 15 minutes
- Montepulciano: 55 km, 1 hour
- Perugia: 95 km, 1 hour 15 minutes
- Assisi: 115 km, 1.5 hours
- San Marino: 130 km, 2.25 hours
There are several parking lots located outside of the city center. We parked at Parcheggio Eden ATAM, which is very close to the Archaeological Museum. Another convenient parking lots is Parcheggio Cardorna. There will be a small hourly fee for each of these lots.
Tours of Arezzo
Here are several tours of Arezzo and nearby places, including wineries and neighboring towns.
Things to Do Near Arezzo
Cortona is a 45-minute drive from Arezzo. This small town has a short list of must-see sights, so it is easy to add on to a visit to Arezzo. Visit Arezzo in the morning and in the early afternoon, drive to and visit Cortona.
Where to Stay in Arezzo
Casa Mirko is a very highly rated bed and breakfast that sits just outside of Arezzo.
Cuprena is a beautiful villa 8 km (5 miles) from Arezzo. Surrounded by gardens and featuring spacious rooms and suites, this is a lovely place to stay for a few days to explore Arezzo and the nearby Tuscan towns.
Casa Torre has several small apartments with a kitchen and washing machine, so it makes a great pick for those traveling long term and or want to stay in the city center of Arezzo. The top terrace of this property has awesome views of Arezzo.
Corso Italia (photo taken next to Tempietto alla Vittoria)
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Arezzo worth visiting?
Arezzo’s main square, Piazza Grande is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy. This small, medieval town is home to numerous churches, art galleries, and historical spots. It also hosts a monthly antique market and twice a year, jousting reenactments are held in the main square. This beautiful Tuscan hill town is well worth the visit.
What is Arezzo famous for?
Arezzo is famous for its monthly antique market, annual jousting reenactments, and for being the residence of Giorgio Vasari, one of the most famous Renaissance artists and painters. The main square, Piazza Grande, is one of the most beautiful squares in Italy.
How much time do you need in Arezzo?
With a half of a day, you can see the highlights of Arezzo, if you move very quickly. A full day is ideal, to get to everything on our list, plus have lunch and/or dinner in Arezzo.
Where Are You Going Next?
Here is more information to help you plan your trip to Tuscany, Florence, and Umbria.
FLORENCE: For a list of things to do, take a look at our Florence Bucket List. We also have information about how to visit the Florence Cathedral, about the best rooftop bars in Florence, and the best viewpoints in Florence. Here are 15 day trips to take from Florence, with practical information on how to plan your day.
TUSCANY: Get started with our guide to the Best Things to Do in Tuscany. Learn how to plan your visit with our Tuscany Itinerary, which has sample itineraries, whether you have 3 days, 5 days, or an entire week in Tuscany.
UMBRIA: In our article Best Things to Do in Assisi, we cover the top experiences to have, plus where to eat and where to stay. In our One Day in Assisi Itinerary, we have a detailed walking tour of the historic city center. And don’t miss our guide to the Best Things to Do in Orvieto.
If you have any questions about the best things to do in Arezzo or how to plan your visit, let us know in the comment section below.
More Information for Your Trip to Italy
BEST OF ITALY: In our guide to the Best Places to Visit in Italy, we list 25 beautiful destinations to consider for your next trip to Italy.
ITALY ITINERARIES: If you are just beginning to plan your Italy itinerary, take a look at our 10 Days in Italy Itinerary for five different ways to spend 10 days in Italy. We also have a detailed 10 day itinerary that includes Rome, Florence, the Cinque Terre, and Venice. For those with more time, check out our 14 day Italy itinerary, which covers the highlights of Italy.
VENICE: We cover the top experiences in Venice in our Venice Bucket List. Learn where to get the best views of Venice in our article 12 Beautiful Views of Venice. And to help you plan your time, take a look at our one day in Venice itinerary and two days in Venice itinerary.
PUGLIA: Read about 15 beautiful places to visit in Puglia and the best things to do in Alberobello. We also have a guide to the best things to do on the Gargano Peninsula and how to spend one day in Vieste.
TRAVEL PHOTOGRAPHY: For more information about the camera gear we carry, check out our Travel Photography Gear Guide.
We have TONS more information about Italy in our Italy Travel Guide, including Rome, Florence, Venice, Tuscany, the Dolomites, the Amalfi Coast, the Cinque Terre, Basilicata, and Puglia.
Note: This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you.
All rights reserved © Earth Trekkers. Republishing this article and/or any of its contents (text, photography, etc.), in whole or in part, is strictly prohibited.