Arezzo

  • Arezzo

    the Petrarca city

Welcome to Arezzo

La Giostra del Saracino (Annual Event)

Sights in Arezzo

Piazza Grande

Piazza Grande

The oldest square in the Tuscan city of Arezzo has the appropriate name of Piazza Grande, or Great Square.

Dating back to the Medieval era, the piazza was once the site of the city’s main market. Today, it plays host to the monthly antiques market that is one of the largest in Italy. It’s also where the annual Joust of the Saracen is held.

Notable buildings surrounding the Piazza Grande include the 14th-century Fraternita dei Laici palazzo, a loggia designed by Giogio Vasari, a 13th-century Episcopal Palace, and part of the 13th-century Romanesque Apse of Santa Maria della Pieve.

Museo Archeologico Nazionale 'Gaio Cilnio Mecenate'

Museo Archeologico Nazionale ‘Gaio Cilnio Mecenate’

Overlooking the remains of a Roman amphitheatre that once seated up to 10,000 spectators, this museum in a 14th-century convent building exhibits Etruscan and Roman artefacts. The highlight is the Cratere di Euphronios, a 6th-century-BC Etruscan vase decorated with vivid scenes showing Hercules in battle.

Also of note is an exquisite tiny portrait of a bearded man from the second half of the 3rd century AD, executed in chrysography whereby a fine sheet of gold is engraved then encased between two glass panes.

duomo-di-arezzo

Duomo di Arezzo

Construction started in the 13th century but Arezzo’s cathedral wasn’t completed until the 15th century.

In the northeast corner, left of the intricately carved main altar, is an exquisite fresco of Mary Magdalene (c 1459) by Piero della Francesca. Also notable are five glazed terracottas by Andrea della Robbia and his studio. Behind the cathedral is the pentagonal Fortezza Medicea (1502) atop the crest of one of Arezzo’s two hills – the duomo was built on the crest of the other.

Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pieve

This 12th-century church – Arezzo’s oldest – has an exotic Romanesque arcaded facade adorned with carved columns, each uniquely decorated. Above the central doorway are 13th-century carved reliefs called Cyclo dei Mesi representing each month of the year.

The plain interior’s highlight – removed for restoration work at the time of writing – is Pietro Lorenzetti’s polyptych Madonna and Saints (1320–24), beneath the semidome of the apse. Below the altar is a 14th-century silver bust reliquary of the city’s patron saint, San Donato.

Hours

8am-12.30pm & 3-6.30pm

Location

Corso Italia 7
Arezzo, Italy
Cappella Bacci

Cappella Bacci

This chapel, in the apse of 14th-century Basilica di San Francesco, safeguards one of Italian art’s greatest works: Piero della Francesca’s fresco cycle of the Legend of the True Cross. Painted between 1452 and 1466, it relates the story of the cross on which Christ was crucified.

Only 25 people are allowed in every half-hour, making advance booking (by telephone or email) essential in high season. The ticket office is down the stairs by the basilica’s entrance.

This medieval legend is as entertaining as it is inconceivable. The illustrations follows the story of the tree that Seth plants on the grave of his father, Adam, and from which the True Cross is made. Another scene shows the long-lost cross being rediscovered by Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine; behind her, the city of Jerusalem is represented by a medieval view of Arezzo. Other scenes show the victory of Heraclius over the Persian king Khosrau, who had been accused of stealing the cross; Constantine sleeping in a tent on the eve of his battle with Maxentius (note Piero’s masterful depiction of the nocturnal light); and Constantine carrying the cross into battle.

Two of the best-loved scenes depicts the meeting of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. In the first half she is kneeling on a bridge over the Siloam River and meeting with the king; she and her attendants are depicted wearing rich Renaissance-style gowns. In the second half, King Solomon’s palace seems to be modelled on the designs of notable architect Leon Battista Alberti.

Museo di Casa Vasari

Built and sumptuously decorated by Arezzo-born painter, architect and art historian Giorgio Vasari (1511–74), this museum is where Vasari lived and worked, and where the original manuscript of his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects (1550) – still in print under the title The Lives of the Artists – is kept. End on the bijou, Renaissance-style roof garden with flower beds, box hedges and fountain in its centre. To get in the museum, ring the bell.

The most important room in the Mannerist residence is the Sala della Virtu (Room of Virtue), which he decorated in 1548 while writing Lives. It features episodes in the lives of the most famous painters of antiquity.

Vasari’s contemporaries were celebrated in the Camera della Fama con le Quatttro Arti (Room of Fame and the Four Arts), where the seven portraits include Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto and – in a display of hubris – Vasari himself.

Casa Museo di Ivan Bruschi

Casa Museo di Ivan Bruschi

Ivan Bruschi, a wealthy antiques dealer, restored 13th-century Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo in the 1960s. After his death, the Palazzo became a house-museum showcasing Bruschi’s eclectic personal collection of furniture, art, coins, jewellery, costumes and ceramics dating from the prehistoric, Etruscan, Greek, Roman, medieval and Renaissance periods. Admission costs €1 if you have a ticket for the Cappella Bacci.

Basilica di San Francesco

The Basilica of San Francesco is a late Medieval church in Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy, dedicated to St Francis of Assisi. It is especially renowned for housing in the chancel the fresco cycle Legends of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca.

San Francesco is the second church built by the Franciscans in Arezzo, an earlier church being located outside the city walls and destroyed during the Occupation. The building work on San Francesco was begun around 1290. The decoration of its façade was never realised.

The interior presents as a large church of simple unadorned design with a wide single nave, flanked on the left side by some chapels and, on the right side, by some niches. The tall groin-vaulted chancel is of square plan.

Beneath the church is a smaller Chiesa inferiore or “Lower Church” as at Assisi, with a nave and two aisles, now used as exhibition hall.

At the chancel entrance is suspended a very large painted rood crucifix by one Master of San Francesco, a contemporary of Cimabue. It also contains a Maesta or “Madonna in Majesty” by Guido da Siena.

The walls and particularly the niches on the right have some fresco decoration, which dates in part to the 14th century.

The Cappella Maggiore, (Major Chapel or chancel) houses one of the masterworks of Italian Early Renaissance, a fresco cycle by Piero della Francesca depicting the Legend of the True Cross.

Fortezza Medicea

Up high to the southeast of the cathedral, across the peaceful gardens of the Passeggio del Prato, rears the Fortezza Medicea, completed in 1560 and offering grand views of the town and surrounding countryside.

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Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici

This palazzo, with its churchlike facade, was started in 1375 in the Gothic style and finished after the onset of the Renaissance.

Palazzo delle Logge Vasariane

Cobbled Piazza Grande is overlooked at its upper end by the porticoes of this wonderful palazzo, completed in 1573.

Amazing hotels and hostels

We’ve pre-picked the best hotels, hostels and bed and breakfasts to make your stay as enjoyable as possible.

Booking.com

Food & Drink

Eat & Drink in Tuscany

Osteria dell ‘Acquolina | Tuscan

Trattoria del Leone | Tuscan

La Cantina del Doc | Tuscan

La Bottega di Gnicche |Sandwiches

Antica Osteria Agania | Tuscan

Il Cantuccio | Tuscan

La Torre di Gnicche | Tuscan

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