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Arezzo & Cortona

As you enter this region, you will quickly notice the hills of central Tuscany, which give the area a distinctly alpine feel. This part of Italy is home to the mountains that run through the centre of Tuscany.

Just on the other side of the mountains lies Casentino National Park in the province of Arezzo, it’s an area of outstanding natural beauty that’s ideal for all kinds of outdoor adventures such as cycling and hiking. Be sure to make your way up one of the peaks to watch the sunrise and take in stunning 360 degree views of the surrounding area.

In terms of city and towns, Arezzo is an inland city that’s not to be missed. It has a monthly antique market that attracts antique dealers from all around Italy, and is famous for its jewellery production. Although the city is flat, it is engulfed by the hills and mountains, which makes for a beautiful backdrop.

Cortona also lies within central Tuscany, it’s a really lovely town that’s known its impressive Duomo Cathedral and for being the setting of the book and film ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’.

Arezzo & Cortona

Arezzo

Situated mid-way between Florence and Perugia, Arezzo has not sold its soul to tourism. The city abounds in monuments but tourism is mostly muted in this underrated city. In a real sense, Arezzo is a hidden gem as it has built its fortune on jewellery. Arezzo was a major town in the Etruscan federation, thanks to its strategic position on a hill at the meeting point of three valleys. Today, it’s one of Tuscany’s wealthiest cities, as witnessed by the proliferation of jewellers, goldsmiths and an¬tique shops. The lopsided main square is a magnet for celebrations and strolls, as is the neighbouring Corso Italia. Culturally, the city belongs to Piero della Francecsa, the artist who has most left his mark on Arezzo. Medieval monuments cluster together in the northern part of Arezzo, including the Duomo, sheltered by the encircling walls of the 16th-century Fortezza, now a park with fine views.

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Cortona

Cortona’s appeal lies in its lofty setting, splendid views and medieval mood. Set close to the Umbrian border, 30 km south of Arezzo, Cortona is one of the most delightful hill towns in Tuscany. It was founded by the Etruscans, colonised by the Romans, and, after its sale to the Florentines in 1409, thrived under the Grand Duchy of Tuscany. Cortona is perched majestically on a ridge of Monte Sant’Egidio, dominating the Val di Chiana. The approach road winds through terraced olive groves and vineyards, past villas, farms and monasteries.

Cortona is a tourism hotspot so its over-popularity is a given. The city’s slow burn was accelerated after the town found fame in Under the Tuscan Sun, a book which led to a film and a summer festival. Even so, once beyond the main squares, the crowds thin out. Luckily, there are enough quaint inns to restore any grumpy spirits.

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Montevarchi

Montevarchi is one of the biggest commercial centres of the Valdarno valley. It's a large town which is made up of mostly modern buildings however has a lovely medieval, central square. It's wealth of amenities and location on the edge of the Chianti makes it perfect to service the needs of tourists as they head into the Chianti hills.

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Cavriglia

Cavriglia is located on the top of a hill above the valdarno, on the edge of the Chianti. It's a quiet town, unknown to tourists but offers a good selection of services  and activities. Cavriglia has origins in the Etruscan times, but it was largely developed in the Roman era. This can be seen by the Pieve di San Giovanni Battista. It was an important point along the roman road that connected the Valdarno valley to the valley of Greve in Chianti. During the medieval period the Montaio Castello was the main stronghold of the area. It got completely destroyed during the fights between the Guelfi and Ghibellini in 1252, but was rebuilt and used as a defence point of the Florence area. In the early 1800s the various, small hamlets that make up the area around Cavriglia were united to create the Cavriglia municipality.

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