Would it be surprising to know that Arezzo has the same age of Nineveh or Assur? That it is actually much older than Uxmal, Tenochtitlan and even Alexandria?
The history of Arezzo, so ancient and full of events, is of course affected by its geographical position. Arezzo, therefore, was a crucial crossroad for any kind of trades between the North and the South of Italy, as well as for any exchange between the Tyrrhenian Sea and the Adriatic one.
In the area there are many evidences of the human presence starting from the Prehistoric times.
Arezzo was probably founded by the Villanovans. Later it became an Etruscan city and part of the Dodecapoli (the political league composed by the twelve most important Etruscan urban centers). The city preserved its relevance also during the Roman time, thanks to its strategic position. Therefore it was an important defensive point in case that some hostile population tried to attack Rome. Under the Roman domination, the city had a big social and cultural development. In this period, many public buildings were built, the Amphitheatre, the theatre and the thermae. As it regards the economy, Arezzo was a specialized center in the production of ceramics. Among the most famous products, we can mention the "aretini" vases, also named "corallini" (because of the red color that was used to paint them).
In the XI century, Arezzo was governed by a bishop and only later in time, the civil power came abreast to the religious one. In 1089 the city became an independent commune and started approving independent laws. Other communes in the nearby started showing interest in the area, trying to affirm their superiority and dominance in the area. This rivalry had its apex in 1289 during the Campaldino battle. In this battle the commune of Florence defeated Arezzo, showing its superior military power.
After this defeat, the government of Arezzo became weaker and more instable. In 1384 it totally lost its independence and was incorporated by Florence. The new domination, Medici family first and Lorena afterward, brought important reforms and ameliorations especially as it regards the drainage of the territory.
In 1798 the Napoleonic troops invaded Arezzo, annexing the area to the "Granducato of Tuscany". With the reunification of Italy, in 1860, Arezzo became part of the Kingdom of Italy. This new administrative situation, together with the construction of the new railway that connected Arezzo to Rome and to Florence, generated a huge economic development of the area. The city kept developing in the following century, thanks to the great demographical growth and to the abandonment of the rural areas.
With the Second World War, the social and economic growth came to a standstill. Almost 60% of the buildings were bombed and destroyed, and the artistic patrimony was heavily damaged too. The local population was particularly active in the Partisan movement against Nazis and Fascists. This had a huge price in terms of victims. Many massacres took place in Arezzo and in the countryside near the city and a high number of civilians lost their lives.
When the conflict ended, the reconstruction took place in a very dynamic way and the city was given a new modern urban look.