Arezzo Tourist Attractions
SituationArezzo, capital of the province of the same name, lies in northeastern Tuscany some 80km/50mi southeast of Florence and near the left bank of the Arno.History and artUmbrians and the Etruscans settled on the hill which rises above the surrounding fertile countryside. The Roman military post was founded here by Gaius Maecenas (c. 70-8 B.C.); he was a friend of Augustus and used his influence to promote the poets who came to visit the Emperor's palace. Arezzo was the birthplace of Guido Monaco (Guido of Arezzo, c. 990-1050), who invented our system of musical notation, Francesco Petrarca (1304-74), the great poet and father of humanism and the satirical poet Pietro Aretino (1492-1556).
Behind the church of Santa Maria della Pieve is the picturesque Piazza Grande, scene of the Giastro del Saracino, the medieval joust performed on the first Sunday in September. At the west side of the square stands the beautiful Palazzo della Faternitaå dei Laici (1375-1460), on the north side the Palazzo delle Logge, built in 1573 and named after the loggias which face the piazza.
An exemplary piece of Pisan Romanesque architecture, the Parish Church of St Mary is the Arrezo's oldest remaining church.
Palazzo del Tribunale
A flight of steps, narrowing towards the top, leads to the Palazzo del Tribunale (Law Courts), built in the 17th-18th centuries.
Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici
Immediately adjoining the Palazzo del Tribunale is the Palazzo della Fraternità dei Laici, an elegant building erected in the 14th and 15th centuries by the lay Fraternity of Santa Maria della Misericordia, a charitable body established by the Dominicans in 1262. The striking facade was begun in Gothic style by Baldino di Cino in 1375, continued in Renaissance style by Bernardo Rossellino in 1433 and completed in 1460. The bell-cote was added by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century.
Palace of the Loggias
The Palazzo delle Logge (Palace of the Loggias) closes the northeast side of the Piazza Grande. Built between 1573 and 1581 to the design of Giorgio Vasari, it takes its name from the wide loggias opening on to the square. In front of the palazzo is a reproduction of the Petrone, a pillory in which delinquents were exposed to public infamy.
The Palazzo Pretorio (formerly Palazzo Albergotti) stands just north of the Church of Santa Maria in Arezzo. Originally built in 1322, it was much altered in the 17th century. The facade, with two orders of windows, bears numerous coats of arms belonging to podestà and commissari (Florentine governors) from the 15th century onwards. From 1404 to 1926 the palazzo also served as a prison; it now houses a municipal library.
Casa del Petrarca
In the same block as the Palazzo Pretorio, in Via dell'Orto, is the Casa del Petrarca, said to be the birthplace of the poet (1304-74). In fact the building dates only from the 17th century. The building, largely destroyed during the Second World War but rebuilt in 1948, is now the headquarters of the celebrated Accadémia Petrarca di Léttere, Arti e Scienze.
Nearly 700 hundred years in the making, the Arezzo Cathedral is particularly well known for the stained-glass windows by Fra Guillaume de Marcillat, and the Tomb of Pope Gregory X.
This two-story house in Via XX Settembre was acquired by the painter and architect Giorgio Vasari (1511-74) in 1540, and between that year and 1548 he decorated it with a series of fine frescoes; the so-called Cámera d'Apollo is particularly notable. The house is now occupied by the Museo e Archivo Varsariano.
The Palazzo Bruni-Ciocchi is an elegant building of the Early Renaissance (c. 1450), thought to have been designed by Bernardo Rossellino.
Medioevil and Modern Art Museum
Some 500m/550yd northwest of the cathedral, in the Via Garibaldi, is the Palazzo Bruni-Ciocchi. The palazzo now houses the Galleria e Museo Medievale e Moderna, which contains works by Margaritone d'Arezzo ("St Francis"), Parri di Spinello ("Angels and Saints") Bartolomeo della Gata ("St Roch"), Luca Signorelli ("Adoration"), Andrea della Robbia ("Madonna and Saints") and Rosso Fiorentino ("Madonna"), as well as majolica, sculpture and other works of art of the Middle Ages, the Renaissance and the Baroque period.
The Church of the Santissima Annunziata (the Virgin Annunciate) in Arezzo occupies the site of an earlier oratory (14th century). It was designed by the Renaissance architects Bartolomeo della Gata and Antonio da Sangallo. The facade, which was left unfinished, has three doorways; the right-hand one, together with the fresco depicting the Annunciation by Spinello Aretino (1370) above it, is a relic of the original oratory. The aisled interior is of considerable effect, with elaborately carved capitals on the columns and stained glass by Guillaume de Marcillat.
Chiesa di Badía
A long flight of steps leads up to the Chiesa di Badia (abbey church), originally founded in the 14th century by Benedictines from Monte Cassino. Its present form is the result of a major reconstruction by Giorgio Vasari in the 16th century. The church, dedicated to SS Flora and Lucilla, has lateral aisles separated from the nave by pillars. The nave is roofed by two shallow domes, the second of which has a highly effective architectural painting in trompe-l'Üil perspective by Andrea Pozzo (1703).
The Chiesa di San Francesco contains important frescoes by Piero della Francesca.
The Roman Amphitheater (Anfiteatro Romano) in Arezzo, built in the A.D. second century, bears witness to the importance of the town in Roman times. In later centuries it suffered much dilapidation, being used as a convenient source of building stone for the town walls, the Church of San Bernardo, the seminary and other buildings. The amphitheater (121m/397ft long by 68m/223ft across), could accommodate between 8,000 and 10,000 spectators.
The former Monastery of San Bernardo, built by Olivetan monks in 1547 in the ruins of the amphitheater seating and badly damaged during the Second World War, has since 1934 housed the Museo Archelógico Mecenate. It contains material of the Stone and Bronze Ages and the Etruscan and Roman periods, largely from Arezzo and the surrounding area. Of particular interest are the Etruscan vases and bronzes and the so-called Arretine ware of terra sigillata, the fine decorated pottery which was widely exported from Arezzo during the Imperial period. Other notable items include Etruscan terracotta reliefs, urns, sarcophagi, mirrors, craters, amphorae and Roman mosaics.
Address: Via Margaritone 10, I-52100 Arezzo, Italy
Opening hours: 9am-2pm; Sun: 9am-1pm
Always closed on: New Year's Day (Jan 1), May Day / Labor Day (May 1), Christmas - Christian (Dec 25), Easter - Christian
Entrance fee: FREE
Useful tips: Closed every first and third Monday of each month. Tickets available until half hour before closing time.
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Church of Saint Mary of Grace
The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie lies outside the town to the south. In pagan times this had been the site of a sacred spring. Then in 1428 San Bernardino of Siena came here and caused all traces of heathen worship to be destroyed and a chapel to be built on the spot. In 1449 the building of the present church, dedicated to the Madonna delle Grazie (altar-painting by Parri de Spinello), was begun, and a graceful portico was added in 1478. The altar by Andrea della Robbia, of marble and terracotta, was installed at the end of the 15th century. To the right of the church is an oratory dedicated to San Bernardino.
Joust of the Saracen Festival
The Joust of the Saracen festival takes place on the third Saturday in June and the first Sunday in September. The event is a recreation of a contest between 13th century knights in armor.
Piazza Grande (Antique Fair) is open every first Saturday morning to Sunday evening.
Map of Arezzo Attractions