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The churches of Arezzo

The churches of Arezzo are custodians of an extraordinary artistic heritage, bearing witness to the city’s importance over the centuries and offering a unique spiritual and artistic experience. A visit to these architectural wonders is a perfect way to immerse oneself in Arezzo’s rich history and culture.

A treasure trove of artistic works from various eras, which can still be admired in its walls and various chapels, the Basilica of St Francis was built as a church of the Franciscan order during the 14th century. It is universally known for the “Legend of the True Cross” by Piero della Francesca, one of the most important fresco cycles of the Renaissance and art history.

A sublime example of Romanesque architecture, the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta was built as an urban baptismal church. Its mighty bell tower and characteristic façade are two of the most recognisable symbols of Arezzo. Among the masterpieces on display are the 13th-century Ciclo dei Mesi (Cycle of the Months) on the outside and Pietro Lorenzetti’s Polyptych and the 14th-century reliquary Bust of St Donatus on the inside.

A majestic Gothic building of the Dominican order, the Basilica of St. Dominic was the ‘gymnasium’ of the Arezzo school of painting throughout the 14th and early 15th centuries. The most famous work housed inside is the magnificent “Crucifix” by Cimabue, an early masterpiece by Giotto’s master, considered the first great innovator of western painting.

Considered one of Arezzo’s Renaissance “temples”, the Church of the Santissima Annunziata  was built as the oratory of the company of the same name during the 14th century. On 26 February 1490, a Marian statue was seen weeping in the nearby Hospital of San Cristoforo. The miraculous episode triggered the cult of the Madonna of Tears and the construction of today’s beautiful church.

A building rich in works of art from various periods, the Abbey of Saints  Flora and Lucilla was initiated in the 13th century as a place of worship for Arezzo’s main Benedictine monastery. During the 16th century, it took on its current interior appearance based on a design by Giorgio Vasari. Among the many masterpieces housed, a fake dome painted by Andrea Pozzo is also worth admiring.

Set in a small square along the ancient Borgo Maestro, the Church of Sts. Michele and Adriano was probably built in the Longobard era, but owes its appearance to Romanesque interventions in the 12th century, Gothic modifications in the 14th century and stylistic restoration in the first half of the last century. The interior houses notable works of art.

A building that characterises the square of the same name with its bulk, the Church of Sant’Agostino was built from the 13th century onwards to house the Augustinian order. Thanks to bequests from the wealthy merchant Mariotto di Cristoforo Cofani, the place of worship was completed between 1469 and the middle of the following century, but the elegant Rococo appearance of the interior is due to 18th-century interventions.

Located along Piaggia di Murello, the Church of Santa Maria in Gradi is the Camaldolese religious building par excellence in Arezzo. Located in the area where, according to tradition, the first Christians of Arezzo hid from persecution, the church was built in the 11th century, but was rebuilt at the end of the 16th century to a design by the great Bartolomeo Ammannati.