Arezzo & Cortona
The town lies in the foothills of the Apennines fanning out into the broad fertile river valleys of the Arno, Tiber, Casentino, and Valdichiana. The city is exceptionally "old", older than Alessandria of Egypt. One of the major Etruscan Locumonies (city-state) and later Roman garrison of strategic importance. In 1384 it falls under the Florentine dominion, joining the rest of Tuscany in the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Few other territories in Italy can offer such a vast naturalistic and cultural heritage in such a small area. The works of Piero della Francesca in the Duomo are, alone, worth the visit of the city. The heart of the Medieval hamlet also witnesses the grandeur of Aretine art and architecture. Next to the medieval towers you can find the Loggiato Vasariano, the Palazzo della Fraternita dei Laici, synthesis of gothic and renaissance architecture and the apse of the Pieve di Santa Maria. The Basilica of San Domenico holds the painted cross by Cimabue.
Set in a panoramic and strategic position between Rome, Florence Siena and Perugia, it was in turn an Etruscan city, a Roman town and an important medieval commune. In 1411 it was annexed by the Florentines. Fra Angelico worked here (his famous Annunciation is displayed in the Diocesan Museum), while Luca Signorelli, Pietro da Cortona, and the futurist painter Gino Severini were all born here. The town as a whole, maintains a decidedly medieval atmosphere, in the buildings, the walls, urban tissue and picturesque names of the alleys. To see: Museum of the Accademia Etrusca - this small and unusual museum groups together Etruscan exhibits of extraordinary interest, Egyptian antiquities, coins, Trecento and Tuscan Renaissance items. The Diocesan Museum, the Church of the Madonna del Calcinaio, the Church of San Francesco (the first Franciscan church to be built outside of Assisi).