blog post by Letícia Ruffo Roberto Daruge
International Relations and Psychology, Take-Five Student
At first glance, Arezzo seems like a peaceful, quiet town in the heart of Tuscany. After a few days here, however, we soon learned that Arezzo is also vibrant, charismatic, and very welcoming. On weekends, the narrow streets and beautiful piazzas of the historic center are filled with people of all ages and places, who come to enjoy the delicious restaurants, interesting museums and churches, multitude of shops, and the lovely landscape of the town. Although we are still exploring the city, I have picked two of our favorite areas in Arezzo – Piazza Grande and Corso Italia – to share with you this week.
- Piazza Grande
Piazza Grande is one of the most important and popular squares in the city. There, you can find restaurants, museums, and shops. Twice a year, the piazza hosts the famous Giostra del Saracino, a biannual joust that dates back to the time of Dante Alighieri. In the Divine Comedy, the great Tuscan writer describes the “clash of tournaments” and “rush of jousts” of Arezzo. Unfortunately, the Giostra del Saracino will take place in June, after our program ends. We can only imagine the beauty of the festival, which fills Piazza Grande with knights, horses, and the flags of the four competing quarters of Arezzo. The owners “Ciao,” one of our favorite restaurants in town, are enthusiastic participants of this event.
On the first Saturday and Sunday of each month, the Antiques Fair of Arezzo takes place at Piazza Grande. Despite its name, this big outdoor market is not only for antiques, it includes clothes, jewelry, china, food, and much more. We were able to visit the Antiques Fair this month and we are undoubtedly coming back in March!
Moreover, the wonderful museum of Fraternita dei Laici is located in the western area of the piazza. Its collection includes paintings, sculptures, books, and other works from various time periods. At the top of the building, there is a sixteenth-century clock that functions to this day. As you can see in the pictures, visitors are allowed to climb the clocktower and enjoy a wonderful view of the city. Our Art History Professor, Alessandra Baroni, worked in this museum for many years and she was able to give us a great tour of the place. In addition to Fraternita dei Laici, Giorgio Vasari’s Palazzo delle Logge and the beautiful Church of Santa Maria della Pieve are also located in Piazza Grande.
2. Corso Italia
Corso Italia, one of the main streets of Arezzo, is the perfect area for shopping, dining, and socializing. From clothing to antique stores, there is a wide range of businesses on the street. On late afternoons, the area is filled with Arentines and travelers taking passegiatas. Two of our favorite cafes – Coffee O’Clock and Caffè Pascucci – are also on this street. Luckily for us, our school is located one minute away from Corso Italia, so we spend most of our study breaks walking in this area. The street begins near the Fortezza Medicea, a military fort built in the sixteenth century, and it ends near the train station. Hence, Corso Italia cuts through the middle of the historic center of Arezzo.
The gelato lovers in our group (all of us) would argue that the best part of Corso Italia is “Cremì.” The store sells great artisanal gelato for reasonable prices, with delicious flavors such as nutella, pistacchio, and fior di latte! “Cremì” definitely ranks among the best gelaterias of Arezzo. If you are not an ice cream fan, that is okay – this store also sells wonderful crepes, pancakes, and waffles!
It would be impossible to talk about Corso Italia and not mention the great restaurants in the area as well. From sitting outside cafés and enjoying a nice aperitivo to going to restaurants for a primo piatto of homemade pasta, the street offers different kinds of dining experience. For the food enthusiasts among you, you do not want to miss our next blog! We will share with you some recipes of Tuscan cuisine and reviews of local restaurants.