AREZZO. We can glimpse Arezzo on arriving in the evening, seeing it in greater detail on the following day.
Arezzo was an Etruscan city but in the 4th century BC prudently allied with Rome, avoiding the destruction of its fellow-cities.
It enjoyed a considerable artistic lowering during the turbulent Middle Ages and during the Renaissance.
Among others, Francesco Petrarca and Giorgio Vasari were born here.
The first thing to see is the attractive but oddly shaped Piazza Grande with monuments of various periods: the picturesque little palace of the Fraternita dei Laici, Palazzo Colton with its battlemented turret, the high tower of Palazzo Lappoli, the fine apse and galleries of the Pieve (parish church) of Santa Maria (11th century, altered in the 13th century).
From the apse one arrives at the marvelous Romanesque facade, whose portico is surmounted by three orders of loggias of different sizes. The central porch has a fine sculptured frieze of the Months: inside, among many other works of art, an Altarpiece by Pietro Lorenzetti (1320) on High Altar. Along Corso Italia one reaches Palazzo del Preform, with its stone coats-of-arms and then the simple Casa del Petrarca (Petrarch’s house) and the Cathedral, a noble mass of dark stone in Gothic-Romanesque style, begun in 1278: in the interior the magnificent soaring windows by Guglielmo di Marcillat (14th cent.) and the monumental Tomb of Bishop Tarlati (1330).
After a look at the 14th century Palazzo Comunale we arrive at the neighbour ing Church of San Domenico (1275) with remarkable frescoes by Spinello Aretino. From this point one can easily reach the Casa del Vasari (Vasari’s house) in Via XX Settembre, frescoed by the artist who was its owner. On the corner of Via San Lorentino and Via Garibaldi are the Museum and Picture Gallery with collections of majolica and paintings, among which the important St. Francis by Margaritone d’Arezzo, one of the first signed works in Italian painting, a Madonna and Saintsby Luca Signorelli and the powerful Ascent to Calvary by Rosso Fiorentino. Via Cavour is close at hand and this takes us to San Francesco, a basilica of severe Franciscan form (1322), famous throughout the world for the cycle inspired by the Legend of the Cross painted there by Piero della Francesco (1452-1466) (See: The Ten Capitals of Italian Painting).
Going from Corso Italia through Via Crispi we arrive at the Roman Amphitheatre, near which there is an Archaeological Museum, with Etruscan and Roman pottery and fine Etruscan bronzes. Now going along Viale Mecenate, one can reach the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (1.5 km.-1 mi.) with its charming Portal by Benedetto da Maiano.
The afternoon should be devoted to a trip to Borgo Sansepolcro (38 km. – 23 3/4 mi.) to complete ones acquaintance with Piero della Francesco (who was born here) with two important paintings: the Madonna della Misericordia and the impressive Resurrection in the little Municipal Picture Gallery. Leaving Arezzo, one climbs to the Face di Scopetone (526 m.-1725 ft.); there is a fine view and an even better one of the Upper Tiber Valley, before beginning the descent to Sansepolcro where one can eat before returning to Arezzo for the night.
Where to stay in Arezzo
There are numerous high quality hotels, villas, apartments and agriturismi (Farm stays) available in Arezzo, check them out and make a reservation here.