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The Genius of Arezzo

“Arezzo would be enough to make the glory of Italy”. The phrase attributed to the poet Giosuè Carducci, referring to the impressive number of illustrious men born in Arezzo and its four valleys who have distinguished themselves over the centuries in the arts, sciences, politics and religion, is proudly flaunted by the people of Arezzo.
Most of these personalities are portrayed in the “Sala dei Grandi” (Hall of the Greats) in the Palazzo della Provincia di Arezzo, in Adolfo De Carolis’ mammoth fresco of 1923-24. Some of them are the protagonists of monuments and plaques that celebrate them, but what is most important is the mark left by them that is still reflected today in the various fields in which they excelled.
Discovering the land of Arezzo through the lives and exploits of its most famous sons is an original and enjoyable way to learn about and explore an astonishing territory unforgettable to those who visit it.

Gaius Cilnius Mecenas

Arezzo, 68 B.C. – Arezzo 8 B.C.

Born into an ancient Etruscan family, he was emperor Augustus’ advisor, ally and friend. He gave life to a circle of intellectuals and poets (including Horace, Virgil and Propertius) whom he protected, encouraged and supported with extreme generosity in their artistic production. Many of the works created thanks to Maecenas’ support contributed to build a better image of Rome.

Guido Monaco

circa 991-992 – after 1033

Also known as Guido d’Arezzo, was a music theorist and Christian monk. He is considered the father of modern musical notation, a language that would revolutionise the way music was taught, composed and handed down. His treatise Micrologus was one of the most popular music texts of the Middle Ages.

Francesco Petrarca

Arezzo, 1304 – Arquà, 1374
A poet, writer and philosopher from Arezzo, he is one of the fathers of Italian literature thanks to his most famous work the Canzoniere. A modern man and citizen of the world, he is considered the trailblazer of Humanism for having dedicated his life to the rediscovery of ancient poetics and philosophy and for reviving the studia humanitatis from an anthropocentric perspective.

Piero della Francesca

Borgo Sansepolcro 1416/1417 circa – 1492
Painter and mathematician, he is among the most emblematic personalities of the Italian Renaissance. He renewed the figurative language of his time, managing to harmonise, in his life as much as in his works, the intellectual and spiritual values of the time, mediating between tradition and modernity, between religiosity and the new affirmations of Humanism, between rationality and aesthetics.

Michelangelo Buonarroti

Caprese, 1475 – Rome, 1564
Sculptor, painter, architect and poet is one of the great protagonists of the Italian Renaissance, recognised – even by his contemporaries – as one of the greatest artists of all time. As brilliant as he was restless, his name is linked to a series of works considered to be unparalleled achievements of creative genius that have given him immortal fame.

Giorgio Vasari

Arezzo, 1511 – Florence, 1574
A painter linked to the ‘Mannerist’ current and an esteemed architect, Vasari was above all an excellent historiographer to the point of being considered the first ‘art historian’: his bibliographical work Le vite de’ più eccellenti pittori, scultori e architettori (The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects) offers a series of biographies covering the entire artistic canon between the XIV and XVI centuries.


San Giovanni Valdarno, 1401 – Rome, 1428
A forerunner of the great Florentine Renaissance period, he was one of the first painters to radically transform the figurative language of his time. Taking Giotto’s lesson as his own, his style of painting was a new departure from the then dominant international Gothic style, favouring a rigorous vision that rejected all decorative excess and artificiality.

Pietro Aretino

Arezzo, 1492 – Venice, 1556
Poet, writer and playwright, he was an original Renaissance intellectual. Known mainly for some writings with licentious content such as the Sonetti lussuriosi, Pietro Aretino was also the author of Dubbi amorosi and other works with religious content through which he made a name for himself in cardinal circles. Free and unrestrained, for his apparent ‘incoherence’ he was as much loved as he was controversial.