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Vibrant, beautifully Tuscan and only an hour by train from Florence, Arezzo is nonetheless half-forgotten. Oft overlooked in favour of Tuscany's big name beauties, this provincial capital is known mostly to lovers of the joyful works of Renaissance artist Piero della Francesca. But this town's art, architecture and beautiful old centre is definitely worth that hour on the train. And it's the closest city to the Casentino Valley, a region of medieval castles and Romanesque churches. For the best places to stay in Arezzo, we recommend properties just outside, where you get the best of both worlds: Tuscan countryside and culture on your doorstep.
Arezzo doesn't sit on the top of a hill like so many Tuscan towns, it runs across the side of a hill, so don't think you've escaped the steep climbs. Palazzos and churches - medieval and Renaissance - radiate out of several squares, so be prepared to do a bit of exploring.
The Duomo, with its fine artwork, looks a little stranded, opposite the ruins of a Medici fortress, and a great municipal park - it's not the centre point you'd expect it to be.
Anyway, Arezzo's most famous attraction is probably the Legend of the True Cross, a set of frescos in the Basilica di San Francesco.
The second best know attraction is probably the Casa di Vasari, or the house where local-boy-turned-well-known-artist and architect, and author of Lives of the Artists, lived. He did the wonderfully inventive frescoes himself, even coming up with the wonderfully allegoric titles and themes.
The local archaeological museum, which overlooks the remains of 10,000 seat Roman amphitheatre, is also worth a look in.
The Piazza Grande is probably the main square. This is where everyone flocks to on the first weekend of every month, when there's a huge market and antiques fair - there about about 500 stalls. The locals have a reputation for knowing how to shop, and as well as the regular markets, Arezzo has some excellent boutiques, the highest end of which can be found on the Corso Italia.
Corso Italia is also the main route between Arezzo's prosperous, modern block and its atmospheric historic centre.
- Villa i Bossi is a gorgeous Tuscan estate just outside of Arezzo. Surrounded by its own lush gardens, vineyards and olive groves, this is a romantic place to stay, and an excellent choice for foodies.
A country escape
- If you're looking for a base from which to explore eastern Tuscany, beautiful old farmhouse, Relais San Pietro, might be perfect. Quiet and traditional, with a lovely pool and terrace, this is also a great country escape, with plenty to do on and around the property.
- With just nine rooms, Fontelunga Hotel & Villas is the perfect luxury guesthouse. Quintessentially red brick and Tuscan on the outside, this villa is contemporary and comfortable on the inside. It's also one of the best places to stay in Arezzo if you've got a big group or special occasion - exclusive use is easily arrangeable.
Best Hotels in Arezzo
Casa Mia Suite 4 rooms from $80Arezzo
A charming guest house with contemporary bedrooms and peaceful garden. Just a short walk from the Piazza Grande and bicycles provided, this is a great spot for local exploring. Close to many local restaurants serving delicious Tuscan cuisine.Value chic - Fantastic value with rooms starting from just €70 per night including breakfast.Local exploring - Situated in the heart of Arezzo, this is an ideal base for exploring the cityGreat walks - Explore charming local walking routesLocal markets - Explore the daily market nearby
Cortona Resort & Spa 23 rooms from $155Arezzo
This 18th century spa and wellness resort consists of several villas. All rooms are decorated in a contemporary style with accent colours and modern bathrooms. There is a spa with sauna, pool, steam room and hammam offering a wide range of treatments, plus expansive gardens to get lost in!Local markets - Visit the nearby villages of the Val di Chiana for a quintessentially Italian experience.Sights nearby - The historic Medici fortress is located in the town of CortonaGreat walks - Walk to the Franciscan Hermitage of Celle.Designer - Uniquely designed interiors.
Villa i Bossi 10 rooms from $154Arezzo, Tuscany
Gorgeous Tuscan estate, home to luscious gardens, vineyards and olive groves. Very romantic rooms, some sleep up to four, in creams with four poster beds and lovely valley views. Fantastic local food and friendly hosts. Relaxing, romantic, and very family friendly.FoodiesFamiliesSights nearby - Private museum located on the ground floor of the villaSwimming Pool - There are two pools - the "quiet" one is adults only.Recommended by - Sawdays
Graziella Patio Hotel 13 rooms from $166Arezzo
A spectacular historic townhouse with beautiful contemporary classic interiors. Rooms and suites have elegant furnishings, some with private hot tubs, and all the mod cons. Specialist thermo beauty treatments and massages. A romantic spot for couples that want to be pampered head to toe.City StyleLuxurySights nearby - Basilica of San Francesco, Cathedral of Arezzo, Vasari's House.Local markets - Good for local colour.
Relais San Pietro 10 rooms from $171Castiglion Fiorentino, Tuscany
A beautiful old farmhouse with spectacular views and very romantic terraces. Complete relaxation and calm inspired by surrounding woodland and olive groves below. Traditional rooms, lovely pool, and fabulous terrace restaurant.HoneymoonsRomantic BreakSights nearby - Great base for exploring Cortona, Assisi and ArezzoGreat walks - Plenty of trails leaving directly from the RelaisRecommended by - I Escape
Il Borro 22 rooms from $257Arezzo (San Giustino)
700 hectares of medieval Tuscan estate rich in history. Whether apartments in the farmhouse or suites in the villa, Il Borro's magic is its ability to transport you back centuries while having all the hallmarks of a luxury hotel, as reflected in authentically rustic rooms and unrivalled amenities.Historic - The home of various Italian dynasties, including the Medici family, and also at an important geographical juncture in TuscanyGarden - Over 100 acres of vineyards, olive groves and verdant hillsViews - Views of the beautiful Tuscan countryside from all over the estateSwimming Pool - Outdoor poolRecommended by - Tablet, Relais & Chateaux