Palazzo del Governo

The Palazzo del Governo (Government Palace) in Piazza Poggio del Sole is one of the greatest architectural masterpieces built in Arezzo in the first half of the twentieth century.

The building dominates the hill of Poggio del Sole, on the western edge of the historical centre, a place of great archaeological interest, which preserves the remains of an Etruscan necropolis studied by the archaeologist Gian Francesco Gamurrini in the second half of the nineteenth century. Among the various finds are pottery and gold jewellery, such as the famous trunk earrings from the sixth century B.C., now preserved in the “Gaio Cilnio Mecenate” National Archaeological Museum.

Around 1232, the Franciscan friars, who had arrived in Arezzo a few years earlier and initially settled on the Maccagnolo hill, were established at Poggio del Sole, then outside the city walls. They remained there for only a few decades, because in 1290 they received as a donation the land and a dwelling within the city walls where they would build a larger convent and church, which were completed during the following century. The old building was dismantled and the material was used to build the new city walls in the first half of the fourteenth century.

In 1538, Cosimo I de’ Medici promoted work on another wall, with fewer entrances and equipped with defensive bastions. One of these was built at Poggio del Sole, taking advantage of the shape of the hill, which however remained largely unbuilt until the early thirties of the previous century. Historical images tell us that apart from a former hospice of reformed Franciscans and other sporadic buildings, such as the characteristic round tower that can still be seen on Via Cenne della Chitarra, the hill was mainly characterised by cultivation.

In 1936, Giovanni Michelucci was commissioned to design the new Palazzo del Governo for Arezzo. The well-known architect from Pistoia, one of the protagonists of the Modern Movement, presented the project in April of the following year and work began on 10 July 1937. In October 1939, the government complex was inaugurated, immediately imposing itself for its simplicity yet not flowing into the typical rhetoric of the period. The greatest exponent of simplified Neoclassicism Marcello Piacentini described the building as “beautiful and serene”, explaining that it represented a milestone in the evolution of Italian architecture. Opposite the façade, then called Piazza Corsica, was Italo Griselli’s “Monument to the Legionnaire”, which was removed after the war and is now preserved in the Municipal Historical Archives.

The palace was damaged by bombs during World War II, but in 1947, based on the original drawings, the ruined parts were rebuilt or restored and today it still has its three distinct nuclei, the Prefecture, the Police Headquarters and the Reception Hall, which are interconnected but differ in size, shape and materials used.

The Prefecture extends over four floors plus the basement. It has a rectangular plan and a curved façade, marked by four different orders and with brick and travertine cladding. On the ground floor is the wide staircase and the beautiful portico with nine round arches. On the first floor is the balcony, still in travertine, with a loggia where each opening corresponds to a window. On the second floor another terrace is visible, less protruding than the previous one, with nine large windows related to the portico arches. The top floor, slightly set back, has a parapet with eight sculptures in Vicenza stone. The two side fronts are also brick, while the back is plastered.

The staircase leads to the atrium that opens onto the elegant Salone delle Feste, the reception hall, characterised by a bell-shaped floor plan and a double-arched gallery with round arches.

The former Questura, which extends along today’s Via Fra’ Guittone, is coated with painted plaster. The window and door frames are built of travertine. Today it houses various public offices.

The large open space in front, laid out as a garden, has housed since 1975 the “Monument to the Partisan” by Bruno Giorgi, dedicated to the fallen of the Aretine valleys during the Resistance.