Etruscan remnants show that the acropolis of San Cornelio was occupied and fortified in the Etruscan period, other archaeological evidence is represented by some parts of walls, a necropolis called “Hill of the Sun” and the two extraordinary bronzes which were discovered in the 16th century and brought to Florence: the Chimera of Arezzo and the Minerva (5th and 4th century BC). After the Etruscans came the Romans of course, Arretium was conquered by the Roman army in 311 BC and became a military station on the Via Cassia: the city kept on flourishing as Arretium Vetus, the third largest city in Italy of the Augustan era and was known in particular for its widely-exported pottery manufactures, the famous moulded and glazed Arretine ware. In the 3rd and 4th century, the city became an episcopal seat and the Roman city was demolished, partly during the Gothic War and the invasion of the Lombards, partly dismantled in order to use the building elements for the new fortifications; the medieval commune of Arezzo threw off the control of its bishop in 1098 and became an independent city-state until 1384, when it yielded to Florence and followed the destiny of the Grand Duchy of Tuscany.
Should you decide that you would like to visit this beautiful city, the best thing you can do is to choose your favourite Florence car rent and leave. Here below you can find a few tips to help you enjoy the city. The main attraction of Arezzo is certainly the Basilica di San Francesco, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi and renowned for housing in the chancel the Legend of the True Cross, a fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca, the famous painter of the Early Renaissance.
Proceeding along Corso Italia, you can visit Santa Maria della Pieve with a very particular Romanesque façade: a five-arches lower floor surmounted by three loggias, with the number of columns increasing with the elevation. On the façade you can also admire some great medieval sculptures depicting the twelve months. On top of the city stands the Cathedral, founded on the site of a pre-existing Palaeo-Christian church and maybe of the ancient city's acropolis; the Cathedral is famous for its 16th century stained glass windows by Guillaume de Marcillat, a small fresco by Piero della Francesca and some majolicas by Andrea della Robbia. Finally, the most noteworthy medieval square of Arezzo: Piazza Grande, the site of the “Joust of the Saracen” and literally filled with landmarks. The square is also famous for having been a set of Roberto Benigni's movie “Life is Beautiful” (1997).
Other important attractions in Arezzo are: the Roman Amphitheatre and Museum, the Medici Fortress, Casa Vasari, the Vasari Loggia, Casa Petrarca and the Palace of the Lay Fraternity (located in Piazza Grande). The city has much more to offer of course, these are just a couple of suggestions to help you planning one day itinerary in Arezzo, supposing you're organizing a Tuscany tour.
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