How to Do a Florence to Arezzo Day Trip by Train (+ Map)
The Tuscan city of Arezzo is the best of Italy wrapped up in a picturesque package. Medieval streets and squares. Churches laden with artistic treasures. There are even the remains of a Roman amphitheatre.
Furthermore, this is an easy day trip from Florence and, with a little forward planning, you can see the highlights of Arezzo in one day like a travel ninja.
Hit the ground running with my guide to doing a Florence to Arezzo day trip. It includes how to get there, the best things to do in Arezzo and a map to help you find your way around.
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Florence to Arezzo Day Trip by Train at a Glance
- Distance from Florence to Arezzo: 38 miles
- Journey time: From 1 hour
- Cost of train ticket: €9 one-way
Is One Day in Arezzo Enough?
An Arezzo day trip is enough time to get a taste of the city’s culture and history and to try the local cuisine. This is ample time to visit the city’s main attractions, including the Basilica of San Francesco.
How to Get from Florence to Arezzo by Train
Arezzo is proof that it is easy to explore Tuscany without a car.
The best way of getting from Florence to Arezzo is by train. Although there is a bus service between the two cities I don’t recommend this as it takes more time and is the same price as the rail fare.
Frequent direct trains leave Florence’s Santa Maria Novella station (Firenze S.M. Novella) bound for Arezzo. The journey time on the faster veloce trains is around an hour and in 2023 a one-way ticket costs €9.
You can check train times here. For planning on the go and to book and download your ticket, grab the Trenitalia app here.
As this is a regional train, there is no advantage in booking your train ticket for Arezzo in advance.
NEED TO KNOW
Make sure that you get off the train at the correct station. Arezzo has three train stations and you need to alight at its main station which is simply called “Arezzo”.
Getting to Florence Santa Maria Novella Train Station
Santa Maria Novella train station is a ten-minute walk from Florence’s Duomo or the Ponte Vecchio.
Getting from Arezzo Santa Lucia Train Station
It’s a 10-15-minute uphill walk from Arezzo train station to Piazza Grande in the centre of town.
An Arezzo day trip from Orvieto
It’s also easy to visit Arezzo for the day from the gorgeous hilltop city of Orvieto in Umbria. The journey time is around 75 minutes.
Getting Around Arezzo
As a relatively small city, Arezzo is very walkable. Exploring it on foot is your best bet.
What to Do on Your Day Trip to Arezzo from Florence
Here are the best places to visit in Arezzo in one day. If you like to map it out, here’s one that I prepared earlier. For an interactive map, simply click here or on the image itself.
To save it to your Google Maps app, click on the star icon.
If you find it helpful, you can use this as an Arezzo self-guided walking tour, which covers a distance of just under two miles.
Best Things to See in Arezzo in One Day
San Francesco Church (Basilica di San Francesco)
For many visitors, Arezzo’s allure lies behind the solid doors of this barn-like Franciscan church. It was in this basilica’s Bacci Chapel that Piero della Francesca created one of the greatest Renaissance fresco cycles, The Legend of the True Cross (1447 – 1466).
Much like Giotto’s frescoes at Santa Croce in Florence, its theme is based on the Golden Legend, a popular 13th Century anthology of the lives of saints by Jacopo da Voragine. This mesmerising masterpiece traces the story of the cross on which Christ was crucified, from its origin as a tree’s seed placed in the mouth of the dying Adam through to the cross’s eventual triumph as a major player in the salvation of man.
But it’s less about the story and more about the sheer beauty of della Francesca’s compositions and his mastery of atmospheric phenomena. Just look at his grimly lifelike rendering of battles.
In the words of Giorgio Vasari, these frescoes were “so well-executed that but for the gift of speech they seemed alive.”
Thanks to recent renovation and the installation of a new lighting system – no need to deposit a euro in a box in this church – you can enjoy the elegance and emotion of this fresco cycle in all of its glory.
VISITING THE BASILICA OF SAN FRANCESCO, AREZZO
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday 9:00 am – 6:00 pm (closed from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for Mass).
Saturday 9:00 am – 5:30 pm (closed from 10:30 am to 11:00 am for Mass).
Sunday 1:00 pm – 5:30 pm
The basilica is closed on Wednesdays.
To visit the basilica and see the frescoes, you need to pre-book a time slot. Only 30 people are admitted every 30 minutes.
You will be charged a €3 booking fee to make a reservation online. There is no booking fee for reservations made at the ticket office, which is adjacent to the church. When I visited on a damp day in May, I was able to get a slot on the spot.
Admission is free and you don’t need to pre-book on the first Sunday of each month.
A combined “Arezzo museum circuit” ticket allows also includes the National Museum of Casa Vasari and the National Archaeological Museum.
For ticket prices and to book online click here.
RECOMMENDED LUNCH STOP!
If you are feeling peckish, grab a bite at La Focacceria Vita Bella opposite Basilica di San Francesco. This simple and friendly serves delicious focacce washed down with local wine.
Even if you only have a passing interest in Renaissance Art, you should make a beeline for the home of Arezzo’s favourite son. The artist, architect and historian Giorgio Vasari was born in the city and you can visit his former home.
Vasari bought this house in 1541 and set to work decorating it with his paintings in 1542, which were completed in 1568 or thereabouts. It’s a wonderful example of artistic expression in 16th Century Italy.
For history and art buffs, the museum also displays Vasari’s correspondence with Michelangelo and Cosimo I de’Medici.
VISITING CASA VASARI, AREZZO
Only 25 people are admitted to Casa Vasari at set timeslots. It is closed on Tuesdays.
For more information head to the website of Casa Vasari
The clue is in the name. Piazza Grande is Arezzo’s enormous main square. Thought to be built on what was the Roman Forum, it is home to a monthly antique market and the bi-annual Giostra del Saracino (Joust of the Saracen) festival.
A magnificent loggia with a series of graceful arches, designed by Vasari, occupies its northern edge. You don’t need to examine it too closely to see similarities between this and Florence’s Uffizi Gallery which was also the work of Vasari.
The square is lined by several medieval buildings, notably the Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici, Palazzo del Tribunale and Pieve di Santa Maria, and has a public fountain dating from the 1500s.
But one of the most striking things about Piazza Grande is its pronounced slope, designed to funnel off the water when it rains. This was doing a good job on the day of my visit.
For one of the best views in town, climb the clock tower of Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici. As tower climbs go it’s not tough and you can capture some terrific panoramas.
DID YOU KNOW?
The Oscar-winning movie Life is Beautiful by director and actor Roberto Benigni was filmed in Piazza Grande.
Santa Maria della Pieve
With its back turned on Piazza Grande, Santa Maria della Pieve is Arezzo’s finest church.
Built in the 11th Century, this is a magnificent example of the Romanesque style of Pisa and Lucca. With its distinctive irregular bell tower and early medieval reliefs under the arch at the front portal, it’s a must-see in Arezzo.
Step inside to take a look at the gilded polyptych of The Virgin and Child flanked by saints by Pietro Lorenzetti (1280 – 1348) in the upper chancel. In the 16th Century, Giorgio Vasari demoted it to an altar at the back of the church in favour of his own family altarpiece where it remained until the late 19th Century.
Arezzo Cathedral (Cattedrale dei Santi Pietro e Donato)
Built from bits and bobs over the centuries, Arezzo’s Gothic Duomo is worth a look inside for its 16th Century stained glass windows by a French master called Guillaume de Marcillat. The tomb of Bishop Guido Tarlati in the cathedral’s north aisle, thought to have been designed by Giotto, has sixteen relief panels recounting his heroic life.
There is also a fresco by Piero della Francesca, Vasari’s Baptism of Christ and terracottas by Andrea della Robbia. The cathedral’s pointy 19th Century campanile is the symbol of Arezzo.
Medicea Park & Fortress
Behind the cathedral is the French-styled Medicea Park. From its lofty viewpoint, there are fine views towards the Casentino Valley and the surrounding vineyards and olive groves.
The Medici Fortress is located at the southern edge of the park. This pentagonal fortress was built by Cosimo I de’Medici from stones quarried from the city’s Roman amphitheatre to beef up Florentine dominance in the city.
Roman Amphitheatre of Arezzo
As its stones were effectively recycled, it’s not a surprise that little remains of Arezzo’s Roman Amphitheatre. Built under the reign of Hadrian in the 2nd Century AD, only part of its grandstand and aisles are visible today.
Occupying a former medieval monastery, the Arezzo Archaeological Museum (Gaio Cilnio Maecenas National Archaeological Museum) is adjacent to the amphitheatre. Although I didn’t have time to visit it, it is home to a sizeable collection of Etruscan and Roman artefacts.
Is Arezzo Worth Visiting?
Rustic Arezzo is a rewarding day trip from Florence. This is a Tuscan city that is off the main tourist trail and is all the better for it.
The birthplace of the artist and historian Giorgio Vasari, it has a strong artistic and cultural legacy and is home to one of the greatest fresco cycles of the Renaissance. Today’s Arezzo has reinvented itself as a centre for the antiques industry and has been the picturesque setting for many movies, including Under the Tuscan Sun and Stealing Beauty.