Following the footsteps of Giorgio Vasari

Arezzo is the birthplace of Giorgio Vasari. He was Architect, painter, scenographer and historian and one of the most versatile artists of all time. In the city Casa Vasari is an extraordinary place which still tells of him and preserves his legacy.

Also the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, Piazza Grande and the Palace of the Fraternita dei Laici tell us about him. If we can listen to them they will reveal all the secrets of the genius from Arezzo.

Who is Giorgio Vasari?

Vasari was a cultured man, a highly sought-after and prolific artist; he is considered one of the great protagonists of the culture of the sixteenth century. He is best known for having collected the biographies of the artists in his book le Vite (The lives) of the most excellent painters, sculptors and architects, a real best seller of the time. 

In the second edition of his volume, Vasari enriches the narrative of the stories and careers of many

  1. of his illustrious colleagues – from Cimabue to his contemporaries – with a singular autobiography.

Author of le Vite, intellectual at the Medici court, founder of the Accademia delle Arti del Disegno, Vasari worked in Venice, Rome and Florence. Thanks to the works made in Florence, Vasari is famous all over the world: the design of the Uffizi and the cycle of frescoes in the Salone dei Cinquecento of Palazzo Vecchio earned him immortal glory.

It is in Arezzo, where Giorgio Vasari was born and lived (when the assignments did not take him out of the city) that his “legacy” is preserved, in the house which he wanted to build in via XX Settembre and where today the Museo Casa Vasari is located.

The dream house of Giorgio Vasari, an exceptional museum for his city

When “Giorgino d’Arezzo painter” – as he signed the letters – bought it, the property was only at the beginning of its construction. Three floors, a garden and the desire to transform the building into a kind of temple of art: Casa Vasari is an amazing residence in the heart of Arezzo.

Painted walls and ceilings and artwork at every corner. At the Museo Casa Vasari in Arezzo you pleasantly lose your sense of time: room after room you travel in a sort of Chinese art box inside the art.

Everywhere there are fascinating symbols to decipher. As in a refined game, the visitor is invited to discover the secrets of Casa Vasari.

For example: on the wooden ceiling in the Hall of Triumph of Virtue an octagon contains three allegories. The image has as its protagonists Envy, Fortune and Virtue and its interpretation changes depending on the point from which you observe it. This is how Giorgio Vasari designed it and the optical effect conquers everyone. Try to decipher it.

Casa Vasari ceiling
Everywhere there are fascinating symbols to decipher

To the discovery of the Vasarian Arezzo

The National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art in Arezzo is just a few steps from Casa Vasari. 

Here on display are several works by the artist from Arezzo. One above all, the banquet at the wedding of Esther and Ahasuerus, a theatrical and grandiose banquet.

Take the time you need to study the details of this huge panel painting, which is one of the largest of the 16th century. A gem to note: the figure of the abbot, who commissioned the work to Vasari, is reflected on the mirrored surface of a vase. And then the author’s signature, elegantly inserted on a stool.

Not far from here, make a short visit to the Church of the Santissima Annunziata for the Deposition from the Cross, another example of painting by Giorgio Vasari.

The Badia of the Saints Flora e Lucilla is an example of the contribution by the architect Vasari to the beauty of Aezzo. The church, already existing at the time of Vasari, was radically modified precisely on his project from the second half of the sixteenth century.

The trait of the versatile Arezzo master is unmistakable on the altarpiece which adorns the main altar of the Badia. Do you know the scenes which Giorgio Vasari represented? Let yourself be seduced by the cultured and curious personality who shines through his works. Read and devour with your eyes the treasures which this great character has scattered in Arezzo.

Badia delle Sante Flora e Lucilla
The Badia of the Saints Flora e Lucilla is an example of the contribution by the architect Vasari to the beauty of Aezzo

Piazza Grande e The Palace of Fraternita show off the Vasari Brand

In the old city centre of Arezzo, there are wonders that you cannot miss if you want to retrace the steps of Giorgio Vasari. Like a precious necklace, the Logge of Piazza Grande – also known as Piazza Vasari – make this point of the city shine. How fortunate that the tenant of Casa Vasari has passed this way.

Cosimo I de’ Medici entrusted to Vasari, who was his courtier and trusted architect, the task of renovating in a Renaissance way the highlight of Arezzo. The design of the Vasari Loggie dates back to 1572. Under the gallery once there were the doors of the artisan workshops. Today, in their place, you will meet the tables of renowned restaurants and one of the tourist offices of Arezzo.

Now turn your gaze to the Palace of the Fraternita dei Laici, on the upper side of Piazza Grande. Everywhere Arezzo leaves you speechless and Vasari is like a recurring motif. Guess who designed the bell tower and the left part of the building? Exactly, Giorgio Vasari.

Logge Vasari by night
Today, under the Logge, you will meet the tables of renowned restaurants and one of the tourist offices of Arezzo

An Artist’s Casentino: the Monastery of Camaldoli

How to end your tour in the footsteps of Giorgio Vasari? Leave the old city centre of Arezzo for a “transfer” in Casentino, where you can admire the church of the Monastery of Camaldoli.

Here there are five plates signed by the Arezzo master. Their arrangement inside the religious building changed over time, but they all date back to the beginning of Giorgio Vasari’s career. In the Chapel of the Infirmary, instead, you can see a painting on wood which depicts Christ in the olive garden on which the artist of Arezzo worked in mature age.

Now, Giorgio Vasari and his works have no secrets from you. Fall in love with Arezzo for celebrating again his genius: he would like it for sure.

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Arezzo City of Vasari