Arezzo is a large town situated in the middle of the Tiber Valley in eastern Tuscany. The town still overlooks the important lines of communication which since ancient times have been the main reason for the development of the town's economic activities.
Most visits will start in the Piazza Grande, the large central square in Arezzo, with many of the most important buildings around the square and surrounding streets. We explore some of the highlights of the town:
Church of San Francesco
Among the religious buildings we should first mention the Church of San Francesco, built in Gothic style, then remodeled in the 14th century and again at the beginning of the 20th century.
Inside, the church has a single nave and a cycle of frescoes of the "Legend of the Cross" by Piero della Francesca (1417-1492), who was inspired by the Golden legend of Jacobus de Voragine (1230-1298).
The decoration of the Bacci Chapel was initiated by Bicci di Lorenzo (1373-1452), and then concluded by Piero della Francesca in the middle of the 15th century.
The Cathedral in Arezzo has three aisles with stained glass windows by Guillaume de Marcilatt (1470-1529). The sanctuary houses a marble altarpiece called the Ark of San Donato, within which lie the relics of Bishop Donato from Arezzo.
Near the main altar there is the "Maddalena" by Piero della Francesca, near the cenotaph of Bishop Guido Tarlati and depicting scenes from the life of the bishop.
If you visit the Diocesan Museum you can see works from the cathedral and other churches in the Diocese.
These include a 13th century polychrome wooden Crucifix, some frescoes by Spinello Aretino (1350-1410), the Annunciation by Bernardo Rossellino (1409-1464), the Announcement of death of the Virgin by Andrea di Nerio (1350-1387) and some paintings by Luca Signorelli (1445-1523) and Vasari.
From here you can climb the so-called "Prato" to the Medici fortress, dating from the 16th century and a pentagonal bastioned fortification, which according to Vasari was impregnable.
The Medici fortress and walls were preserved almost in their entirety until the year 1800, when the French occuped Arezzo and the fortress and destroyed part of the walls.
More Arco religious monuments
Also remarkable here is the Church of Saint Dominic, in Gothic style and with a Romanesque portal. In the interior of the church, at the center of the apse, is a Crucifix by Cimabue (1240-1302), while the Santa Maria in Gradi keeps an altarpiece by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525).
Also worth seeing is the 14th century Abbey of Holy Flora and Lucilla, where Vasari also worked. (In fact Vasari was a native of Arezzo and you can visit the house where he was born). It was vasari who built the altar on which stands a false dome by Andrea Pozzo (1642-1709). On the right wall of the nave is the Crucifix by Segna di Bonaventura (active from 1298 to 1331).
The Church of Santa Maria is interesting, and popularly known as the Chiesa delle cento buche” [the Church of a hundred hollows], because of its 40 windows. The interior of the church is divided into three naves with a raised presbytery above the crypt in which lies the reliquary of San Donato. On the main altar there is a polyptych by Pietro Lorenzetti (1285-1348), dated 1320.
Nearby the church of St. Michael and Adrian, whose facade was rebuilt after the last war, is the former monastery of Olivetan monks, which houses the Archaeological Museum which collects Etruscan, Roman and medieval finds of Arezzo.
Highlights close to Arezzo
Just outside Arezzo town is the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in the mid-15th century by Saint Bernardine of Siena (1380-1444). The church has a nice porch built by Benedetto da Majano (1442-1497), and in the interior on the altar a remarkable work by Andrea della Robbia stands out.
Finally we recommend that nature lovers visit the countryside and surroundings of Arezzo for its natural beauty, such as the Nature Reserve of Buriano Bridge which stretches between Arezzo and Civitella in Val di Chiana and Laterina. The territory is characterized by a varied vegetation consisting mainly of oak, holm oak and cultivated areas.
See also history of Arezzo.
* See artist notes at historical Italian artists
Map of Arezzo & places to visit
Selected places to visit near Arezzo
See the Tuscany guide for more travel ideas...