Arezzo was one of the twelve most important Etruscan cities. It is considered to have been one of the most important among them. The acropolis of San Cornelio, one of the hills of Arezzo, was fortified by the Etruscans. Etruscan walls, the Poggio del Sole necropolis, and the “Minerva” and the “Chimera of Arezzo”, now in Florence, testify the Etruscan past of Arezzo. Trades with Greece allowed for fine Greek pottery, finer than the Etruscan, to be imported.
A piece of pottery from Roman-times Arezzo was found in India at Arikamedu. This is evidence that Arezzo vested an important exporting role during Roman times with was then called Persia.
The Romans conquered the Etruscan Arezzo in 311 BC. Named Arretium in Latin, the city became an important military station on the Cassia road. The Cassia road was the way to expansion of Rome into the Po river valley. During the Roman civil war Arretium was half demolished after the victory of Sulla. In the Augustan period Arretium continued to flourish as Arretium Vetus (The Old Arezzo) and was the third largest city in Italy. This period saw Arezzo getting famous for its pottery manufactures, the well-known red, and black Bucchero clay vases and pottery.
The 3rd and 4th centuries saw Arezzo became throned by the Roman church bishops. These bishops used to be feudal lords of the city during the Middle Ages.
Unfortunately the Roman Arretium was demolished during the barbaric invasions and parly by the people of the city itself to reuse the stones to fortify the city. The only construction that still stands is the Amphitheater.
Between 1098 until 1384 Arezzo kept its status of independent city-state. The affiliation with Siena’s Ghibelline made Arezzo an opposer of Guelph Florence. The year 1252 saw the university of Arezzo, the Studium, being founded. In 1289 the fortunes of the city started to decrease as in 1384 the city became a Guelph city, making of the city an appendix of Florence, inheriting its politics, history and culture with a consequent loss of identity. The Medicean family ruled over Arezzo. However, it was during this period of Medicean art patronage that Piero della Francesca created his beautiful frescoes in the church of San Francesco di Arezzo. The frescoes have been recently restored and represent Arezzo’s most representative works; soon afterwards Arezzo began a cultural and economical decline, which somehow helped preserving the medieval center of the city.
In the 18th century the Val di Chiana was drained helping the elimination of malaria. The end of the century meant the French invasion of Arezzo. The Napoleonic troups conquered the city. However the Viva Maria resistance movement turned the city into a base against the invaders. Thanks to this movement and the importance it vested Arezzo became the capital of its province. When in 1860 Italy was unified, Arezzo became part of the new Kingdom of Italy. The city kept its status during WW one and two, however suffering heavy damages.
The Map of Arezzo
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