Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

From the moment I stepped inside Antonio’s small second-floor apartment, I knew I was going to like Arezzo.

This jovial Italian B&B owner seemed resolved to ensure that I saw everything important in his home town, even with just eighteen hours at my disposal: so after Antonio had shown me my bedroom (complete with a view of cypress trees) he immediately pulled out a paper map of Arezzo and set to work on a walking route for me.

With a coloured pen, he circled the landmark of ‘tre semaforos’ – three traffic lights which would guide me back towards his home – along with various museos, chiesas and piazzas which were all deemed to be unmissable.

And then he essentially shuttled me out of his front door so I could get on with sightseeing.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

So why was I in Arezzo?

Despite being the setting for Roberto Benigni’s classic film, ‘Life is Beautiful’, the little medieval town of Arezzo still isn’t too well known amongst the tourist circuit. Yet because I’d already spent the weekend in Tuscany, when a new Italian friend suggested I spend a day exploring Arezzo it was as easy as catching a train from Siena.

In seemingly no time at all, I was walking through the streets of a quintessential Italian town where everything looked exactly like you’d imagine it.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful
For some reason I never have much time when I visit Italy, and this trip to Arezzo was no different. On the plus side, having a single day to see the town meant I was free to be totally indulgent.

And when in Tuscany, ‘indulgence’ essentially means ‘eat all the food’.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

First up was lunch at a nearby restaurant which Antonio had been insistent I should visit.  “You have the pasta… with the hands,” he’d said, miming the action of kneading and rolling in mid-air.

The waiter who guided me to a table spoke even less English than Antonio, so instead I was graced by the pasta-kneading chef himself to explain their day’s specials.
 I opted for a pile of twisting papardelle, topped with a rich ragu sauce and laden with sprinklings of parmesan. Firm, chewy and al dente – just the way I like it – and even better with a glass of the Chianti which the chef was equally insistent about me ordering.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Back outside in the spring sunshine, I made my way past stone archways and ornate signs towards Arezzo’s main piazza, popping my head inside the ridiculously photogenic shopfronts along the way.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

The further I went, the more elements of Italian history sprung out at me – like a store in the crypt of a pockmarked stone church with handmade chocolate, pasta and cases of red wine spilling out of the doors.

Just as I walked past, the bells began to chime from the tower above (no joke!), and it was easy to imagine the thousands of services which had taken place there over the years.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Old buildings segued to old objects: shop windows were stuffed full with antique collectibles, while bigger items were propped up outside and left to blend in with the crumbling walls.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful
Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Eventually I wound my way up to the highest point in Arezzo, where the Cathedral of San Donato sits above a stunning viewpoint of the city and countryside beyond.

Once I’d found myself a free wooden bench, it was time to sit back amongst the trees and soak up the sun.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Shadows had begun to stretch behind the trees when I headed off again. At a house beside the Duomo I could hear a piano playing, and a few reedy, wavering voices floated through the open window.

Somehow it was evening, and on route to a pizza place for dinner (because, you know, Italy) I passed a few rose sellers walking slowly down Arezzo’s sloping streets. A pensioner hailed one guy down, balancing a long stemmed rose on the roof of his car before helping an equally elderly woman exit the passenger seat.

A little love affair with Arezzo

There’s an undeniable ‘something’ about Italy.

Maybe it was the fresh spring air; the lack of tourists; the wonderful walkability of the narrow streets; or maybe I just really needed a day of wandering around. Regardless, there aren’t many places where I catch myself saying, ‘Oh, how beautiful!’ out loud.

But it is beautiful.
 Spending a sunny Thursday afternoon a few days before Easter wandering through nearly empty streets gave me such a buzz of happiness that it’s no wonder Roberto Benigni decided to film ‘Life is Beautiful’ in Arezzo. Who could resist frolicking around on camera in a place like this?

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Normally I don’t write articles based solely on a place being ‘nice’ — but it really, truly was. Add the fact that Arezzo isn’t that well known and it becomes all the lovelier.

So if you ever find yourself at Antonio’s flat in Arezzo, please tell him the English girl sent you.

And definitely pay attention to his map.

Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

Have you ever visited Arezzo? What other unknown parts of Italy would you suggest? 


About Flora

Flora Baker is the founder and editor of Flora the Explorer, where she writes about her travels around the world, her volunteering exploits and her ongoing attempt to become fluent in Spanish by talking to anyone who'll listen. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus.

, , , , , ,

7 Responses to Why Life in Arezzo Really is Beautiful

  1. Candice Walsh January 6, 2017 at 2:16 am #

    Oh I LOVED that movie! This place is adorable. I didn’t get to hit up any small Italian towns on my trip — saving it for the next one, I suppose

  2. Tonkin Travel Vietnam January 12, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    Wow, some pretty nice shots! Such beautiful architectures. The fifth photo reminds me the wonderful taste of Toscana wines. Love Italy *_*

  3. Gustavo Woltmann January 29, 2017 at 6:13 am #

    You guys have some amazing content! I would love to get more information on how I can submit a guest post to your blog? How would that work out? Can I get a chance or can I contact someone to get more information about it?

  4. kevin Ngoc March 30, 2017 at 9:19 am #

    This place’s so beautiful, :))) Nice photo.

    • Flora April 2, 2017 at 10:38 am #

      It’s such a stunning little place! Glad you enjoyed the photos, Kevin 🙂

  5. Heya May 8, 2017 at 5:17 pm #

    Great post – and love the photo commentary! And perfect timing since I’m planning to be there in july

  6. karenincalabria July 17, 2017 at 8:09 am #

    I visited Arezzo many years ago before Life is Beautiful, but just for an afternoon and the cathedral was closed for reconstruction, so I definitely would like to return in the future. However, I remember being amazed at being in the place I had heard about in undergraduate music history classes. Guido of Arezzo was a medieval music theorist who invented a way of reading music by indicating points on his hand. The Guidonian Hand! It’s funny when you finally put a name with a place, perhaps particularly for Americans as we have such a brief history of our own.
    As for unknown parts of Italy, I’d suggest Calabria down in the toe of the boot. I lived there for 4 years and then wrote a book and blog about it. Arezzo is very, very well known in comparison to the town in Calabria.

Leave a Reply