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Arezzo, city of art

Visitare Arezzo 1 - Arte e Cultura

Arezzo is a city of Etruscan origin and is located about 5km (3mi) from the Borgo Frosini. Starting from the IV century b.C., it gradually became an important trade and military Etruscan town, one of the most important towns among the twelve centres that together formed the strong alliance of powerful city-states of Etruria.

There are many remains showing the role the lucumònia, the status of city-state, played in the Etruscan history by Arezzo: some parts of the city walls made of stone have been preserved, and even the shape and street configuration of the city itself is Etruscan.

Later on, Arezzo would host a Roman military settlement, and a trace of that period is visible in the Roman amphitheatre, still today located in the very middle of the city.

Many more are the parts of the town that provide its visitors with endless fascinating landscapes and angles telling us about its history in the Middle Ages and in the Renaissance, and let us enjoy its astounding architectonic highlights.

The Romanesque church of Santa Maria della Pieve has been built between the XII and XIII century and features a striking façade with columns all differing one from the other and a beautiful bell tower. The inside, divided into three aisles, anticipates the Gothic style and is dominated by the polyptych of Virgin with Child and Saints by Pietro Lorenzetti (1320).

In the Tuscan-Gothic Basilica of San Francesco the visitors can admire frescoes by Piero Della Francesca. These paintings, now perfectly restored, portray the History of the True Cross cycle and were accomplished between 1453 and 1464 approximately. The frescoes are one of the major works of Italian Renaissance art and one of the absolute art masterpieces worldwide.

Also the Piazza Grande, the “big square”, should not be neglected: monumental and very scenic, it hosts prominent cafés and is surrounded by valuable mediaeval and Renaissance palaces. The atmosphere on the square is tranquil and very animated when one of the two big events in town take place. The first one is the antiques fair, the Fiera dell’antiquariato (first Sunday and antecedent Saturday of each month LINK SHOPPING), that takes place on the square itself and in the surrounding alleys, and attracts many collectors and people interested in hunting for interesting antique pieces. The second big event is the Giostra del Saracino, the “Saracen Joust”. The citizens of Arezzo passionately bring this mediaeval festival into being. Some of them dress up as knights and, riding their horse and holding a lance, compete in accurately charging at a target held by the turning statue of a Saracen king. The historical parade preceding the tournament goes around town and virtually all citizens cheer their own team and dress up in historical costumes.

The Gothic Cathedral, or Duomo, dominates over the whole of Arezzo from the top of the hill. There are several interesting art pieces inside it, such as the Maddalena fresco, also by Piero della Francesca, and the luminous and coloured stained glass, made by Guillaume de Marcillat.

The church of San Domenico hosts the Crucifix, a young work by Cimabue (1260-65) and masterpiece of 13th century art, as it shows the turn from Bizantine, iconographic and abstract art representing Christ towards the then emerging more introspective works of Italian painting.

There are also other churches in Arezzo that are worth a visit: among the many, SS. Annunziata, S. Maria in Gradi, the Badia and S. Maria delle Grazie deserve to be mentioned.

 

 

 

Museums in Arezzo

 

There are several museums in Arezzo that are worth being explored. Among them, the archaeological Museo Mecenate LINK, the Galleria and Museo Medievale e Moderno LINK, and the remarkable Casa Vasari LINK: Giorgio Vasari has lived there and decorated it with frescoes he made himself, giving us a wonderful example of works made in the style of Tuscan mannerism.

 

 

 

The surroundings

 

The city of Arezzo is situated in a strategic viability spot and from here most locations in Central or Southern Tuscany, in Umbria and in the Marche region can easily be reached.

 

The province of Arezzo is famous for its many small towns and villages with plenty of art masterpieces to discover, gastronomic delicacies to enjoy, natural landscapes to explore, protected park areas to visit – examples of the latter are the forests of the Casentino valley and places dear to pilgrims such as La Verna and Le Celle, where Saint Francis of Assisi resided, or the Benedictine abbey at Camaldoli.

 

The list of the towns and the locations worth a visit could be much longer than the one here below. However, here are some examples of places our guests may be interested in exploring (in brackets, the driving distance from our borgo).

 

CORTONA

(33km or 20mi) Cortona is worldwide renowned because of its Etruscan origins and remains, its mediaeval charm, its artistic highlights and the breath-taking landscapes.

 

SANSEPOLCRO

41km (25mi) far, this town gave birth to Piero della Francesca and has a museum preserving some of his works, including the famous Resurrection.

 

POPPI

A 38km (23mi) drive into the beautiful Casentino valley, this small town has a very well preserved mediaeval castle. In the area, it is also possible to visit the Pieve in Romena, one among the many Romanic churches scattered around the territory. The best known and fascinating among them is the Pieve in Gropina.

 

THE CHIANTI

Another 35km (22mi) drive will give our guests the chance of visiting the Chianti, with its beautiful hills and vineyards, and the many quaint borgos.

 

THE TRASIMENO LAKE

Less than 40km (24mi) far from Arezzo, the Trasimeno lake, with its picturesque lakeside towns like Passignano and Castiglion del Lago, is also definitely worth a visit.

 

MONTEPULCIANO

30km (31mi) far, and worldwide famous for its wine cellars and wine routes.

 

PIENZA

61km (38mi) far, it is the beautiful Renaissance town built by and for Pope Pio II°.

 

MONTALCINO

A 79km (49mi) drive, it is the birthplace of the Brunello vineyards and wines.

 

THE TIBER VALLEY

 

Where our guests can visit Caprese Michelangelo - the birthplace of the great artist is less than 24km / 15mi) distant from our borgo – and Anghiari, 25km (15mi) far, that is situated in a panoramic position overlooking the valley.

 

Other cities of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio can easily be reached from Arezzo, for instance:

 

Siena (60 Km or 37mi) and the neighbouring San Gimignano;

 

Firenze (80km or 50mi) by motorway, can also easily be reached by train (35 minute trip);

 

Perugia (80 Km or 50mi), and the towns of Assisi and Spello nearby;

 

Orvieto (106 Km or 66mi), renowned for its splendid cathedral;

 

Urbino (105 Km or 65mi), Renaissance town, splendid under the rule of duke Federico da Montefeltro, where Raffaello Sanzio was born.

 

Further major cities, distant between 150 and 200 km from us, could also be worth a visit:

 

Pisa (170 Km or 105mi) with its Leaning Tower and the Cathedral square, and Lucca, not far from Pisa.

 

Ravenna (150 Km or 93mi), the last capital of the Roman Empire, featuring ancient basilicas covered with Roman and Byzantine mosaic decorations.

 

Rome, incidentally, is barely 200 Km far (125mi) and can be reached by high-speed train (trip duration: 1 hour and 15 minutes).

 

 

   

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