Arezzo. ...for us

For those who have finished with Florence, and want to explore the rest of Tuscany, the classic traveller's route runs either due south – to the vineyards of Chianti, the towers and Palio of Siena and San Gimignano, the hill towns between Montalcino and Montepulciano – or west to Pisa, Lucca and the coast. Aside from Cortona – a lovely town popularised, and in high season very nearly ruined, by Frances Mayes's well-meaning memoir Under the Tuscan Sun – eastern Tuscany gets far less attention.

That is a huge bonus for those who do make it to the region's vibrant little capital, Arezzo, just an hour by train from Florence. They come to this half-forgotten corner, in steady but never excessive numbers, drawn mostly by the joyful frescoes of the Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca, and discover a city rich in art and architecture but mostly free of crowds.

As well as being an attraction in its own right, Arezzo is also the jumping-off point for the Casentino valley, an area dotted with Romanesque chapels, medieval castles – one of which hosted Dante – and good restaurants. Two important Franciscan sites, the monasteries of La Verna and Camaldoli, lie high in the wooded mountains that ring the valley.

Tempted? Here is how to make the most of the city and its region.

Arezzo

Where art and tradition converge 

The town lies in the foothills of the Appenines fanning out into the broad fertile river valleys of the Arno, Tiber, Casentino, and Valdichiana. Arezzo is the administrative and economic capital of the large province of the same name, whose economy over the last fifty years has grown rapidly, shifting from agriculture to industry. It is now a majorgoldsmith center while tourism is the town’s other major employer. Arezzo's ability to combine its cultural heritage with a modern entrepreneurial identity makes it an important centre for the whole of eastern Tuscany.
STRUCTURE
Eight defensive walls have been constructed around the the hill on which the ancient town was built, each larger than the previous one. The most recent wall, built in the 16th century, effectively curbed urban expansion until modern times. Each time the town's boundaries expanded a 'new' Arezzo emerged, blending with the pre-existing town. This is the key to Arezzo's historical identity: the sum of very different parts - medieval Arezzo, the town of the grand-dukes, the Medici and the rule of Lorraine. This fundamental aspect of the town’s character helps us understand how the 'new' town, inspired by late 19th-century town-planning principles, could so readily connect to the 'old' town
HIGHLIGHTS
At the top of the hill, the Piazza Grande is at the heart of the town. As in the earlier walled Etruscan settlement (6th–5th century BC), the forum of the Roman city was in or near this square, perched between the hills of San Pietro (where the cathedral now stands) and San Donato (today occupied by the Fortress). Arezzo used to be as major a center for farming and industryas Romeand Capua in ancient times. It was famous for itsspelt wheat, bronze statues and terracotta. The works that have survived (including the bronze Chimera, now in Florence) show the high level of technical and aesthetic sophistication achieved. In Augustan times, items made of 'sealed Arezzo earth' (ceramics) were much sought-after.The walls built in 1194, along what is now Via Garibaldi, enclosed a town of 20,000 inhabitants. The town was organized into the four quarters that compete in the Saracen Tournament to this day. The Studio Generale or university (the successor to the episcopal school whose illustrious pupils included Guido Monaco) added cultural importance. Arezzo produced such geniuses as Guittone and the eclectic Ristoro. "Alas! Now is the season of great woe”, sang the great 13th-century poet Guittone d’Arezzo. The defeat of Arezzo by the Guelphs of Florence at Campaldino in 1289 was a severe blow to the rich and powerful Ghibelline commune, which had adorned its 'acropolis' with churches and public buildings.
 
AREZZO’S GOLDEN AGE
Between the 13th and the 14th centuries the town expanded fan-wise as can still be seen on modern town maps, with main thoroughfares leading toward the Chiana riverand Florence. Before Florentine expansion overwhelmed Arezzo’s independence, the town enjoyed one further period of progress under the pro-imperial bishop Guido Tarlati(1319-27). Tarlati helped to bring about economic and cultural developments: art and architecture flourished, and work began on the new walls that were to form the largest defence system the town had ever known. When Guido died his brother Pier Saccone was unable to continue the work and in 1384, the town of Arezzo and the surrounding territory, were incorporated into the Florentine state.DECLINE AND RECOVERY
The 15th century brought both decline (in the population and social life) and some economic recovery. The town’s main architects were Florentines (Bernardo Rossellino, Benedetto and Giuliano da Maiano, Antonio da Sangallo the Elder and his brother Giuliano) but it was the work of Piero della Francesca, that was fundamental to early Renaissance art: the "Legend of the True Cross" fresco on the apse walls of the church of St. Francis. The town lost its most cherished landmarkswhen the Florentine Grand Duke Cosimo I demolished the towers, churches (including the old cathedral built by Pionta) and other private buildings that smacked of political autonomy. In their place appeared new walls (1538) and a star-shaped fortress.
 


MODERN TIMES

Arezzo began to take its present form in the second half of the 18th century, but it was not until a century later, with the arrival of the railroad (1866), that urban redevelopment really began. The 'new town' grew up around Arezzo’s ancient core, without impinging upon it. The town that greets visitors today is remarkable in the sheer abundance of its art and architecture, and its culture and local traditions: a rich heritage, ranging from awe-inspiring monuments to smaller treasures, offering interesting insights into a town and civilization.

Today Arezzo, situated within striking distance of Firenze, Perugia, Siena, and numerous small hill towns like Cortona, is the provincial capitol of Toscana.  Arezzo is different from many towns in Toscana: no sweeping views, no fresco colored villas with red tile roofs as far as the eye can see. It’s not on a river, however both the Arno and the Tiber originate north of Arezzo in the hills and pass through the area. It sits on a low hill in the Clanis valley.  It’s not famous for leather goods, food, wine, famous museums and great restaurants but it has all of these things. 

Arezzo today is home to hard working people who take great pride in their history and the artists and writers who lived and worked in Arezzo. Those artists include della Francesca, Signorelli, Cimabue, Angelico and others. Arezzo was the birthplace of Petrarch and Giorgio Vasari. Despite the difficulties of funding public works, the city is restoring the Teatro Petrarca. The Vasari home is now a beautiful museum with splendid painted walls and ceilings. They are also hard at work excavating the Roman amphitheater and renovating the adjacent Archaeology Museum.

Arezzo does not live for tourists; it welcomes them and you see groups wandering around the sites every day.  Arezzo does live for antiques.  It has a regional antique show once a month and a really big one once a year.  There are antique shops everywhere you look within the historic center. 

If this isn’t enough, there is great shopping and great prices on via d’Italia and via Cavour! We each treated ourselves to a new something: Ken a dynamite sports jacket and brilliant scarf, and for moi, a dazzling sweater with lace down the back and peeking out around the bottom of the sweater. Arezzo really is a marvelous place to stay and experience authentic Italian life.

Pietro L'Aretino

" In art, immorality cannot exist.

Art is always sacred"
- August Rodin

To render Aretino’s Sonneti lussuriosi into English (or, for that matter, into almost any other language) with anything approaching literalness would be to achieve a work of unredeemed pornography; and while pornography undoubtedly has its value in this republic, it is not the end sought here, which is to gve as accurate as possible an idea of Aretino’s work. Such a procedure on the part of the translator would, accordingly, be an unfaithfulness to his author; it would be, as translators too often do, to betray the latter by a false faithfulness. For the Italian, in portraying the nuances and delicate shadings of debauchery, possesses certain advantages which are not to be found outside the Latin dialects. Take the Seven Freudian Sins and set them to music and the effect is rather different from that attained by our harsh nordic gutturals. Even the Germans, whom we may sometimes take to have been the inventors of sensual expression in paint and words, have found this to be true. Upon reading over my own version, I am convinced it is nearer the spirit of the original than any of the alleged literal renderings I have seen. In view of the invincible pruderies (“retincenes is the college professor’s word) of our English speech, it is as faithful as it feasibly could be. Incidentally, it is better poetry.


 

Gold Fair Arezzo 18/21 April 2015

18- 21 April 2015 

Oroarezzo is the international exhibition of gold, silver and jewelry. It represents a point of reference for all business operators, wholesalers and importers of jewelry, both from both traditional and emerging markets.

On display are a wide range of jewelry that highlights the trends of the jewelry made ​​in Italy, skillfully combine innovation, research and design.

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