The churches of Arezzo watch over the history and the art of the city. Some of them contain treasures that would be really a sin not to know. We leave for a stroll to discover the most beautiful ones.
The Cathedral, Majestic on the top of the hill
The Cathedral is situated on the upper part of the city and dominates it with its majesty. If you are a lover of the Gothic style, the Cathedral of Arezzo will leave you speechless.
From the outside you will immediately notice two things: its huge size (that is why you can see it even at a great distance from the old city centre) and the bell tower, which the Arezzo citizens call affectionately “Matitone“.
Its base is hexagonal, just like that of pencils and the tower ends in an accentuated tip. If you are down here when the bells ring, a powerful chime will wrap you up like a soft scarf.
The project of the Cathedral of Arezzo is by the Arezzo painter Margaritone. Its construction dates back to the end of the Thirteenth century, but the Arezzo citizenswaited centuries to see the completed work. Did you ever realize the facade was finished in the 20th century?
Inside, the stained glass windows by the master Guillaume de Marcillat color the place and its light. You will feel as tiny as in the belly of a whale while walking under the high vaults and passing by the imposing pillars which separate the aisles.
Three important works in the Cathedral of Arezzo? The Ark of San Donato, the fresco by Piero della Francesca depicting the Magdalen and the Chapel of Our Lady of Comfort, embellished with precious terracotta from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia.
The Basilica of San Domenico and its famous Crucifix
Among all the churches in Arezzo, the Basilica of San Domenico is a real gem. The asymmetrical prospectus with a sail shape bell tower seems to invite you to enter.
The walls are decorated with what was recovered from the ancient frescoes bySpinello Aretino and other authors. Now you move in a unique and evocative space, where elegance is masked by uniform colors and a simplicity which is readily apparent.
The wooden Crucifix by Cimabue is suspended over the presbytery. It is also thanks to this masterpiece if Arezzo is known in the world as a city of art. The curvature loaded with pathos of the body of Jesus seems to reproduce the irregularity of the facade of the Basilica of San Domenico.
The work by Cimabue is of a petrifying splendor, it is made of bright colors and evocative details like the blood of the dying Christ. An artistic genius who will make you want to bow down and say thank you.
The work by Piero in the Basilica of Saint Francis
The tour to discover the churches in Arezzo takes you to another special place: the Basilica of Saint Francis with its imposingGothic style structureof the Thirteenth century, then modified in the following century
Let yourself be hypnotized by the incredible talent of Piero della Francesca. Emotions guaranteed in front of the cycle of frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross, which tells the story of the Sacred Tree and the wood with which Jesus was crucified.
The Bacci chapel will look like a portentous blend of art and storytelling. Under the vaults signed by Piero, enjoy the privilege of looking at something of inestimable value and of immense fame.
Pay attention also to the stained glass windows by Guillaume de Marcillat and to the beautiful crucifix by an unknown artist.
The Pieve of Santa Maria Assunta: the extraordinary style of an inimitable grey
The Pieve of Santa Maria Assunta is a Romanesque surprisebuilt starting from the year 1000;it is the bridge between Corso Italia and Piazza Grande. The Pieve is a prodigy of architecture with the bell tower called “hundred holes” and the facade with columns which are all different.
Inside you will find a concentration of finesse and sobriety and the amazing polyptych with the Virgin and Child with Saints painted in 1320 by the Sienese Pietro Lorenzetti, one of the most noted interpreters of Fourteenth-century painting.
The grey of the stone goes well with the slender naves; in half-light the pearl color stands out even more. Go to the terrace of the presbytery to enjoy this wonder from another perspective
Beneath your feet there is the crypt, made accessible again only in the 19th century. There is a chest-reliquary of Saint Donato, patron saint of Arezzo. A curiosity: it is almost certain that the remains of Giorgio Vasari lie under the floor of this church, which the artist from Arezzo particularly loved.
The big finale with the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie
For the last steady stage of your tour around the churches in Arezzo, get away from the old city centre to get to the Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie. A park at the foot of a hill welcomes this religious complex and houses the Fonte Tecta, whose waters in the Fifteenth century were considered prodigious.
Peace and beauty are the watchwords of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The fresco of the Virgin of Mercy by Parri di Spinello, placed inside the marble altar by Andrea della Robbia, will leave you speechless.
And walking under the loggia designed by Benedetto da Maiano, where emptiness prevails over fullness, takes you into a form of architecture which resembles a miracle.
Visit Arezzo and its churches and let yourself be transported in an extraordinary journey, immersed in sacred art and immortal beauty to the discovery of a timeless enchantment.