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“Aldous Huxley called it a boring town....i didn't agree with a lot of his views anyway”
Review of Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande
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$215.33*
and up
Full-Day Private Tour to Arezzo and Cortona from Siena
Ranked #1 of 91 things to do in Arezzo
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: The spacious and lovely main square features the Town Hall, which dates back to the 6th century.
Sydney, Australia
Level Contributor
2,492 reviews
1,387 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2,312 helpful votes
“Aldous Huxley called it a boring town....i didn't agree with a lot of his views anyway”
Reviewed April 22, 2014

Arezzo is called an anomaly among hill town which is precisely the the reason for its magnetic draw for this intrepid visitor. It stands above the meeting place of three fertile Tuscan valleys near where the Arno veers north towards Florence.

Fragments of its walls describe its perimeters in Etruscan,Roman and medieval times,but now the city has spilled beyond the boundaries of its medieval core. Streets fan downwards and intersect carving concentric rings about the slope. The ochre and honey colours of the buildings have a cool,gritty edge,in keeping with Arezzo's aggressive energy and bustle.

The most famous Etruscan relics found here - the Chimera and the bronze Minerva,now rest in Florence's Archeological Museum,but the local chapter houses a collection of the Aretine vases that were acclaimed by no others then Virgil and Pliny. Decorated with incised patterns portraying banquets,sacrifices and mythological figures,these clay pottery are deep in red colour of coral.

Continual war and political upheaval did not interfere with the city's growth and prosperity under feudal rule of its bishops. Michalangelo was born nearby in Caprese,as well as,the poet Petrach,the playwright Pietro Aretino...... Rattle these names off.... Andre Sansovino lived and worked here as well as, Pierodella Francesca,one of the greatest Renaissance painters.

It was only Aldous Huxley who was not enchanted with it, calling it a boring town, From the outside,the unfinished stone and brick facade of San Francesco Church,gives no clues to the works hung on its walls - the Legend of the True Cross and through to King Solomon.
Though many medieval churches and towered houses remain,their campaniles adorned with crenellations,only one of its Romanesque monuments escaped destruction by Cosimo I ( boo,hiss),the leveller who razed parts of the old town to rebuild his fortress. he spared Santa Maria whose facade of rough sandstone is animated by three tiers of columns,rising one up the other like the graceful 13th century churches of Pisa and Lucca.

From this church,the narrow street leads to the Piazza Grande which opens behind it. Once a year,seven centuries later,in being a civic centre of Arezzo...a spectacle happens in which horsemen wearing medieval costumes ride at full tilt,lances extended,towards the wooden image of an enormous Saracen. One hand of the figure holds a target,the other a mace with spikes and the rider who comes closest to scoring a direct hit,without being knocked off his horse or whacked on the head,takes home a Golden Lance to his neighbourhood quarter.

But once a month,on a Sunday,the piazza comes to life for a Furniture Fair,where people hope to unearth a real Etruscan fragment or a Renaissance treasure among the chairs,candlesticks,chests and clocks,spread out for sale in the market place.

On quieter days,its pleasant to wander about the piazza that slopes from the Vasari's gracefully arcaded Renaissance loggia to the medieval houses at its foot.The space is paved with rosy brick in a herringbone pattern,with insets of travertine triangles and circles. Towers and fine old stone buildings climb one steep side,and at the other becomes,in effect,a condensed history of architecture - from Romanesque apse to an 18th century tribunal.

Beyond the Palazzo Pretorio ,is the fortress whose walls and ramparts are still in place overlooking red-tiled roofs and towers and the vines and silvery olives that cover the slopes beyond the town. To the north are rolling green hills that range as far as the Appenines.
Its a short walk to the duomo,uphill of -course,as there are only two directions possible. The interior soars like a cathedral,is lit by brilliant coloured glass windows. Their rich colours formed by the hand of Guillaume de Marcillat.

For all its historical layers,the present is very much alive in Arezzo,and where armoured knights once clattered over the cobblestones,the foot steps of preoccupied businessmen and the staccado of high heels can now be heard. If this town has little of the romantic charm of the rest of Tuscany,it does have the liveliness,confidance and prosperity of a thriving commercial centre whose streets are full of shops selling the latest creations of successful young Aretines.

Visited October 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank Eli B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Level Contributor
34 reviews
14 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 30 helpful votes
“On antiques market weekend, this piazza (and all of Arrezo!) is a must-do!”
Reviewed April 21, 2014

The antiques market will take you the entire day, and you still won't see all of the stalls, but you can decide ahead what you want to shop for (art? Lace? Clocks? Furniture?) and narrow your focus. A guide is published with the hundreds of antiques sellers all listed and categorized, for ease of use.

And on all the other days of the month, the piazza is just beautiful, surrounded by shops and cafés. Get a gelato and sit in the warm Italian sunshine...

Visited July 2013
Helpful?
1 Thank PLG1956
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lucca
Level Contributor
11 reviews
4 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
“Lovely”
Reviewed March 28, 2014

Most Brit tourists will see the Paglia in Siena, but I think this, though much smaller, is every bit as charming - with the added bonus of being filled with Italians rather than tourists (excepting me, of course!!)

Visited March 2014
Helpful?
Thank Shewhomustbeobeyed1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Sao Paulo, SP
Level Contributor
251 reviews
185 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 151 helpful votes
“Beautiful”
Reviewed March 26, 2014

This Piazza was chosen for a few shots taken for La Vita é Bella, and if you liked the movie you'll love walking around the city and specially by the Piazza. It is really a charming place which will truly make you feel inside the movie.

Visited February 2014
Helpful?
Thank Felipe M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Level Contributor
124 reviews
42 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 73 helpful votes
“Unique”
Reviewed November 24, 2013

One of the most beautiful and unique piazzas in Italy. Outside of the newer part of the city, nothing in Arezzo is flat and this piazza reflects that, it's on a severe grade north to south. The "newest" building on the piazza is the Vasari Loggia, built in the 1500s and most of the others far predate that. All of the buildings are interesting but Santa Maria church on the south west corner is particularly stunning (even tho your looking at the back of the church). We have traveled to Italy at least 25 times and this piazza is one of our favorite spots.

Visited November 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank TJCGrandRapids
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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