One of the biggest Etruscan cities and a strategic Roman one
Arezzo is situated on a hilltop in eastern Tuscany. As is shown by the architecture of the town, it has a history stretching back to ancient times, being first one of the major Etruscan settlements and later a strategic centre for the Romans.
The highest part of the town retains its distinctive mediaeval aspect, dominated by the Cathedral and the Medici Fortress. The Cathedral, which shows a distinctive Gothic influence, houses some very important works of art, including a depiction of Mary Magdalen by Piero della Francesca and stained-glass windows designed by Guillaume de Marcillat.
The main square, the Piazza Grande, lies at the heart of the town and is composed of a real mixture of different styles. On the penultimate Saturday in June and the first Sunday in September it forms the setting for the Giostra del Saracino, a knightly tournament with mediaeval origins. The same square, together with a large part of the old town, hosts the famous Fiera Antiquaria (Antiques Market) on the first Sunday (and preceding Saturday) of every month.
The Bacci Chapel in the Basilica of San Francesco contains the extraordinary cycle of frescoes by Piero della Francesca depicting the Legend of the True Cross, one of the finest works by this outstanding Italian Renaissance painter. The Church of San Domenico, with its simple design and single nave, is home to a painted cross by Cimabue, one of the artist's early works. Many more churches and grand mansions, with their fine and original style, testify to the historical and cultural importance of Arezzo over the ages.