Palazzo dei Priori

The Palazzo dei Priori, in Piazza della Libertà, hosts the town hall of Arezzo. It was built around 1333, on top of the hill of San Pietro, to house the supreme magistracy of the free commune and later the main jurisdictional and administrative bodies that have succeeded one another in the city to the present day. The mighty keep, an irreplaceable element of the city skyline, was built from 1337 onwards.

Between 1454 and 1472, the first major renovation of the palace was carried out by Domenico del Fattore and Bartolomeo Serragli. As part of that work, in the 1460s the large clock that was originally located in the bell tower of the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta was moved to the tower.

In 1572, a new renovation of the public building was decided upon. The project was worked on by Alfonso Parigi the Elder, who designed the three-order internal loggia facing south. The work was completed in 1602, when the architect had long since died. In 1650, the façade collapsed completely and destroyed the underlying fifteenth-century external loggia, which was never rebuilt. The frescoes painted by Lorentino d’Andrea on the inner wall were also lost. In the reconstruction, the stone front of the building was set back.

In 1715, a new bell cast by Andrea Moreni was placed on the vault, while in 1800, the clock face was crowned with the “Four Seasons” and the allegories of “Justice” and “Fortitude”, painted by the neoclassical painter Luigi Catani. In rare pictures from the early twentieth century, the paintings, now degraded due to the weather, can still be seen.

The last major intervention at Palazzo dei Priori was carried out in 1930-33 under the aegis of Giuseppe Castellucci and Umberto Tavanti. As part of the neo-medievalisation of the palace, an external loggia was built and Ghibelline merlons, or swallow-tailed merlons, were inserted into the large façade.

The keep, which had been flattened in the second half of the sixteenth century, was slightly raised and modified. Again, the top part was framed by Ghibelline merlons projecting over small brick arches and corbels. Lastly, the stone and brick vaulting was rebuilt to house the “campano”, or civic bell, and the metal cross with the hoisted horse. In the first half of the 20th century, the clock movement and winding mechanism was also rebuilt by the Ligurian company F.lli Terrile Costruttori Meccanici.

The Palazzo dei Priori houses coats of arms from various periods, precious objects and numerous works of art, mostly portraits of great Aretines, in its various rooms.

In the hall of honour on the ground floor, where “I Colori della Giostra” (The Colours of the Joust), a permanent exhibition dedicated to the Joust of the Saracen, is housed, there is a 1649 fresco by Salvi Castellucci depicting “The Saints Donato and Stefano show Arezzo to the Madonna and Child”.

Going up the stairs to the upper floors, some frescoes can be admired, such as the “Madonna Enthroned between St. Donato and Blessed Gregory X” painted in 1483 by Lorentino d’Andrea and “St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata” by Angelo di Lorentino from the early sixteenth century.

In 1931, the sixteenth-century loggia on the first floor was enclosed with stained glass windows. Today, a fourteenth-century stone statue of the “Madonna and Child”, originally placed above the disappeared Porta Santo Spirito, stands here.

In the Sala del Consiglio Comunale (City Council Hall), there is a detached fifteenth-century fresco and related sinopia. It is the work of Parri di Spinello and represents “Christ on the Cross between the Virgin and St John the Evangelist”. Another notable, albeit ruined, work is the 1525 portrait of “Pietro Aretino” by Sebastiano dal Piombo.

The Sala della Giunta Comunale (Council Chamber) contains two canvases painted after 1550 by Giorgio Vasari with portraits of “Benedetto Accolti” and “Pietro Accolti” and twelve “Stories of Roman and Medieval Arezzo” frescoed in 1610 by Teofilo Torri.