Arezzo is located at the crossroads of four valleys (Valdichiana, Valtiberina, Casentino, Valdarno). It was an important Etruscan and Roman centre. The town's Arcaeological Museum is situated in a former Olivetan Monastery and built partially over the Roman amphitheatre of which it maintains many traces. Around the first half of the XIVth century Guido Tarlati, an Aretinian Bishop, turned Arezzo into a great cultural and artistic centre. In 1304 Francesco Petrarca was born in this town and at the end of the 1300s Arezzo was governed by Florence and then by the Medici family until the middle of the 1700s.
The town offers several masterpieces: the Romanesque church of Santa Maria, the Gothic Cathedral, the medieval churches of San Domenico (where Cimabue left one of his first Crucifixes) and San Francesco (containing the History of the True Cross fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca. This is an early Renaissance masterpiece in which perspective, shapes and colour are skillfully combined by the great artist). Centuries of history and culture are represented by the many medieval buildings such as the Palazzo Comunale, the Palazzo Pretorio, the Palazzo della Fraternita and also by the famous renaissance Vasari Loggia, Casa Vasari, the artist's home now a museum, and the Medici Fortress.
As well as culture, music also has an important position in Arezzo; the "Guido d'Arezzo" International Polyphonic Competition which brings to the town ancient and modern melodies.
Piazza Grande surrounded by tower houses is the perfect location for the oldest and most famous Antiques Fair that takes place on the first Sunday of each month, as well as the perfect setting for The Saracen Joust, a knightly tournament held in June and in September. The other museums in which important works of art can be found are: Museo Statale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna (State Medieval and Modern art Museum), the Ivan Bruschi House and Museum il Museo Diocesano (Diocesian Museum) and the Museo Civico d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea (Municipal Modern and Contemporary Art museum). The main business activites in Arezzo are jewellery and antiques. Local food and wine offer simple yet tasty dishes: crostini neri, minestra di pane, zuppa del Tarlati, gattò (a typical dessert), accompanied by the Colli Aretini wines and an excellent vinsanto. D.o.p. (protected origin) local products, such as the zolfino bean, cetica potato, the prosciutto from Pratomagno and the aretinian "abbucciato" a unique cheese made by the Camaldoli Monks since the XIth century.