What to See and Do
The tourist information office
is at Piazza della Repubblica 28 (open 9
am-1pm and 3-7pm Apr-Sep, 10am-1pm and 3-6 pm Mon-Sat, 9am-1pm Sun rest
of the year). If you are travelling on a tight budget at the office
there is a representative from Colori Toscani who organizes accommodation
and tours for free.
The Chiesa di San Francesco
located in Piazza San Francesco
was constructed in the 14th century. Its
magnificent apse was painted by Piero della Francesca
was commissioned to paint a fresco cycle of 10 scenes of
the cross. It is named the Legend of the True Cross
. The pictures show characters related to this medieval legend such
as Helena, Constantine’s mother, and Emperor Khosrow. His creativity in perspective make Piero della Francesca’s frescoes the main feature of the church.
Fortunately the fires, earthquakes and bombing have not been able to prevent us from seeing everything.
However, strangely enough, when the Dream of Constantine
Francesca was under restoration it was discovered that dirt covering it had
made people believe that the artist had painted a night scene when in fact it depicted dawn.
There are two options for viewing the frescoes. You can just
observe them from a distance behind a cord or reserve a visit
with an audio guide (tel. 0575 35 27 27; www.pierodellafrancesca.it;
available from 9am-6.30 Mon-Sat, 1-5pm Sun Apr-Oct, 9-5.30 pm Mon-Sat,
1-5pm Sun Nov-Mar) which lets 25 visitors every 30 minutes.
The ticket office for Piero della Francesca’s
frescoes can be found at
Piazza San Francesco 4. Combined tickets which include visits to the frescoes in the
Chiesa di San Francesco, the Museo Archeologico, Museo Statale d’Arte
Medievale e Moderna and Museo di Casa Vasari can be purchased at any of
the places mentioned.
The Church of Saint Mary
(Pieve di Santa
Maria) (Corso Italia 7; open 8am-1pm and 3-7pm May-Sep, 8-midday and
3-6pm rest of the year) is fronted with a Romanesque porticoed façade,
similar to Pisa’s but smaller and without its marble covering. The central
doorway is capped with reliefs depicting the months. The bell tower
constructed in the 1300s is a landmark for Arezzo, since it is visible from quite a distance.
The interior is covered in monochrome stone which makes the Madonna and Saints
by Pietro Lorenzetti
the highlights inside are San Donato’s reliquary made in
silver in the 14th century, Margherito di Arezzo ‘s 13th century
crucifix and the Adoration of the Magi, a bas-relief of marble.
crossing the street on exiting the church is Casa Museo di Ivan
(tel. 0575 35 41 26; Corso Italia 14, 10am-1pm and 3-7pm except
Mon Apr-Sep, 10am-1pm and 2-6 except Mon rest of the year). It
showcases a collection of artwork and antiques built up by the founder
of Arezzo´s antique fair.
The cobbled Piazza Grande
where the Giostra del Saracino and the monthly antiques fair is held.
The 16th century Palazzo delle Logge Vasariano
and the Palazzo della
Fraternità dei Laici
dominate the square. This palace features a
façade which resembles that of a church and is a patchwork of styles
as its building was started in the Gothic style in the 14th century and
finished in the Renaissance style.
The Casa di Petrarca
Via dei Pileati. A little museum, a library, research centre and the
Accademia Petrarca share the building. Only upon reservation and backed
by real interest visitors are allowed to enter. The tourist information
office can provide further information about it.
del Duomo; open 6.30am-12.30pm and 3-6pm) took 2 centuries, from the 13th to the
15th to be completed. The ornate altar is flanked on the left
by a precious fresco of Mary Magdalene panted by della Francesca and
the tomb of Bishop Guido Tarlati adorned with marble reliefs set on
different levels representing priests and an acolyte.
highlights in the Cappella della Madonna del Conforto
, near the
north aisle, are the glazed terracotta images by della Robbia’s workshop
and Pope Gregory X ‘s tomb.
From the cathedral climb up the hill
towards the Passeggio del Prato
where the Fortezza Medicea
is located (open
7am-8pm Apr-Oct, 7.30am-6pm rest of the year). Here are the best views of the surrounding area and city from above.
Chiesa di San Domenico
on the eponymous piazza (open 8.30am-7pm) is a
worthy visit. It is fronted with an irregular façade. Check out the Crucifixion
by Cimabue inside, one of his first pieces, Spinello
Aretino’s frescoes, kept in very good condition, and a statue of San
Pietro Martire sculpted by the workshop of della Robbia in which Saint
Peter is represented with a sword through his head.
west to Casa di Vasari
(tel. 0575 40 90 40; Via XX Septembre).
to the west the Museo Statale d’Arte Medievale e Moderna
(tel. 0575 40
90 50; Via San Lorentino 8) displays pieces by local artists.
On the ground floor it displays sculptures of Arezzo´s churches. On the
first floor there are paintings from the Middle Ages, among which are
Bartolomeo della Gatta and Domenico Pecori’s pieces, the della Robbia
family’s terracotta and majolica plates. On the second floor are
Signorelli’s and Vasari’s work besides 19th century pieces.
(tel. 0575 2 08 82; Via Margaritone 10) is housed in
what was once a convent. Its collection includes Etruscan and Roman
finds, ceramics and bronzes. Look for the Etruscan Cratere di
Euphronios depicting Hercules, which dataes back to the 6th century BC.
From the museum it is possible to so see the vestiges of the Roman
amphitheatre which could seat 10,000 people.
Arezzo’s antique fair
attracts about 500 stall holders monthly who set up their stalls on Piazza Grande and nearby streets. Arezzo
(www.Arezzowave.com) gathers performers from Italy and the
international music sceme. From time to time celebrated international
artists take the stage in this July festival.
Giostra del Saracino
(Joust of the Saracen)
is another example of the
medieval jousting tournament and celebrations held long ago, in which people dress in
typical costumes making a multicoloured sight and lively competitions are held between the 4
neighbourhoods of Arezzo. After an announcement read by a herald,
there is a parade of people and horses. The bishop then blesses the jousters who will enter the
competition. On Piazza Grande the knights representing each
neighbourhood throw their lances at the buratto, a representation of
the Saracen. The team winning the competition is prized with the Golden
Lance which is the best reward for the neighbourhood represented. This
division into neighbourhoods named after Arezzo’s city gates has
existed for about 10 centuries and still gives its inhabitants a strong
feeling of community and comradeship. Each neighbourhood is
distinguished by its colour. To enjoy this magnificent show make sure you´re in
Arezzo in June or September.