Testimonies to the genius of Giorgio Vasari, Piero della Francesca, Beato Angelico, Luca Signorelli, Bartolomeo della Gatta and other artists from the Arezzo and Cortona schools. There’s a gallery spread throughout the heart of the historic center of the city that can be seen, step by step, on a tour that explores the most important places of worship and museums in Arezzo.
This journey into Arezzo’s golden age starts outside the walls, built by the Medici to surround the city. The first stop is the Church of “Santa Maria delle Grazie” which has a portico by Benedetto da Maiano. He was a master of architectural studies on perspective and brought his expertise in geometry and light to this structure, surrounded by green spaces and the peacefulness of a sacred place. The light enters inside Santa Maria delle Grazie and blends with the shining colors of the glazed terracotta pieces by Andrea della Robbia on the high altar.
Inside the walls, there is the Church of SS. Anunziata which was founded on the site of the Miracle of Our Lady of Tears. This church was built in the 16th century based on a project by Bartolomeo della Gatta and houses the Deposition by Giorgio Vasari, the Adoration of the Shepherds by Niccolò Soggi and the Virgin Appearing to Saint Francis by Pietro da Cortona. Its interior is illuminated by twelve stained glass windows by Marcillat.
Don’t miss the two museums that are just a few steps away from the church. These museums are for fans of the Renaissance. The first museum is the Vasari House-Museum which was designed by the master and has his frescoes inside. This museum is considered a small gem of art and architecture. It houses the Vasarian Archives that contain some of Vasari’s correspondences with other great men of his time, including Michelangelo. The second museum is the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art inside the Palazzo Bruni Ciocci building. This museum is also called “La Dogana” and it houses the “Convito” for the Wedding of Ester and Assuero by Vasari, one of the largest wood panel paintings from the 16th century, as well as pieces by Bartolomeo della Gatta and works of art from the Della Robbia workshop.
Heading towards the Piazza della Badia square, you’ll see the Church of Saints Flora and Lucilla. This 13th century church was transformed in the mid 16th century on a project by Giorgio Vasari and today it houses a monumental altar complex which the artist himself created as a family chapel. In this place of silence and mystical reflection, you can take a tour with the sacristan who will show you the treasures of the church including the iconic Vasari yellow of the “Pala Albergotti,” the magical illusion presented by the trompe l’oeil Baroque dome by Andrea Pozzo and the fresco of Saint Lawrence by Bartolomeo della Gatta.
Continue your journey in the footsteps of Piero della Francesca and you come to the Piazza San Francesco square where the Basilica of Saint Francis is located. This church houses the fresco series called the Legend of the True Cross, a masterpiece of the master from Sansepolcro as well as the Annunciation by Luca Signorelli and frescoes completed by his followers and pupils.
As you leave the Basilica of Saint Francis, you’ll take Via Cavour street towards Corso Italia street until you come to Palazzo Redi and Palazzo Guilicchini, two perfect examples of Renaissance architecture. Passing these, you’ll continue the uphill climb of Corso Italia street until you reach Piazza Grande square. Once you enter the square, you’ll notice that everything seems to bear Vasari’s signature, from the Vasari “Logge” to the “Palazzo della Fraternità.” These structures are the architectural jewels of one of the most beautiful squares in the world. But, the tour doesn’t end here. Continue uphill through the historic center of Arezzo towards the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donato. Inside, to the left of the altar there is a delicate Renaissance fresco painted by Piero della Francesca with Saint Mary Magdalene. The stained glass windows are by Marcillat and shine like a rainbow. The Chapel of the Madonna del Conforto has works of art by Della Robbia.
Last but not least is the Medici Fortress, built on the Hills of Saint Donato at the behest of Cosimo I De Medici. This fortress has an unusual history because it was built by the lord of Florence in order to protect himself from the people of Arezzo. Today, the walls and ramparts of this splendid pentagon are all that remain. The Fortress has become the perfect spot for contemporary art exhibitions and events. On the top of its walls, there is a long paved path that runs along the entire perimeter of the Fortress and offers visitors spectacular panoramic views of Arezzo.
- For lovers of the Renaissance
- For art and nature lovers
- For those who love visiting churches and museums
- For all those who are searching for beauty and silence
- For those who love strolling
- Comfortable clothing and shoes
- A guide
- A camera