This church at the gates of the ancient city of Arezzo is like a small oasis of peace surrounded by nature. A jewel of Tuscan architecture set in the emerald green meadows. The perfect stop for all those who seek tranquility and beauty in Arezzo, without giving up a dip in the history of art.
In Arezzo, during the Etruscan-Roman times, an ancient, miraculous font that was consecrated to the god Apollo was venerated by many. During the Middle Ages, this font became known as the “Fonte Tecta.” It was believed that the waters from this font had the power to heal diseases, especially those of children. For this reason, the “Fonte Tecta” became a place of worship and pilgrimage for the inhabitants of the town and for visitors.
With the advent of Christianity, however, the pagan cult of water became unacceptable. In 1425, the Church sent Saint Bernardino of Siena to destroy the font but he was driven out of the city. He later returned in 1428 and dismantled the font and had a chapel built in its place. This chapel became the original foundations of the future church. However, the strength of the pagan cult persisted even after the font was destroyed. So, Saint Bernardino transformed the benefits received from the miraculous waters into the graces granted by the Madonna. He then built an oratory a few meters from where the font had stood. This later became the Sanctuary of the “Santa Maria delle Grazie.” Between 1428 and 1431, Parri di Spinello painted a fresco of the “Madonna della Misericordia” or Virgin of Mercy which now is part of the marble altar by Andrea della Robbia.
In 1490, Benedetto da Maiano created a splendid Renaissance loggia on the facade of the church. This feature is similar to the facade of the Hospital of the Innocents by Brunelleschi and makes the church unique among churches in Arezzo. On the long side of the church, there are seven arches with seven medallions on a base with steps.
Here light acts as the master of ceremonies in a game of style and proportions in which the height of the columns and the dosseret is equal to the light of the arches. These come together to provide a show of lights, shadows and unparalleled geometries.
Santa Maria delle Grazie and the ancient spring with its miraculous waters
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