• Arezzo

The town of Arezzo is extremely ancient, older even than Alexandria. It was one of the major Etruscan Lucumonies and later a Roman city of strategic importance. It was a flourishing business hub with a wealth of precious monuments among which we should mention the amphitheatre of which much remains. Medieval Arezzo was a free city where the interests of the Ghibellines, rivals of nearby Florence, often prevailed. Few other areas in Italy can boast such a rich natural and cultural heritage in such a compact area. Frescoes by Piero della Francesca in the Duomo [cathedral] alone are worth a visit to the town. But even the medieval heart of the old town speaks volumes about Arezzo's epic seasons of art and architecture.  Alongside its medieval towers, stands the imposing Vasari Loggia [porch], the Palace of the Fraternity of Laymen, a fine blend of gothic and renaissance architecture and the apse of the Church of Santa Maria. The cross painted by Cimabue, an early work by the artist, is preserved in the Basilica of San Domenico.  With their haunting beauty and their stylistic originality, many other churches and palaces bear witness to Arezzo's civilization and its importance throughout great historical periods. On the second Saturday of June and the first Sunday in September, Piazza Grande becomes the setting for the Giostra del Saracino, a jousting tournament whose origins date back to medieval times. Every first Sunday of the month and the previous Saturday, this square and much of the old town centre play host to the Antique Fair. Arezzo's Antique stall owners have the art of haggling over prices down to a tee. We can only adapt. The Chianina cattle farms are also unmissable; the animals are enormous with a typical white/black coat and can be seen throughout the countryside around the town.