When you think of Arezzo, the first thing that probably pops into your mind is art. What many people don’t realize is that, in addition to its masterpieces from the Renaissance and medieval period, Arezzo also has many beautiful examples of Baroque art and architecture. The historic center is the best starting point on a tour that showcases all of 17th century Arezzo.
The tour starts at the Church of Saint Ignatius, located between Via Carducci and Via della Fiorai. This church is one of the best examples of sacred Baroque architecture in Arezzo. The austere simplicity of the brick facade was commissioned by the Jesuits in the 17th century and it contrasts with the rich interior decorated in lavish gold and stucco. The church was deconsecrated and transformed into a space for contemporary art exhibitions.
The next church on the itinerary is the small, lesser-known Church of Saint Joseph nestled in the small streets of the historic center. This church has a simple facade from the 18th century and its interior is filled with a rich array of stucco decorations created by Passardo Passardi.
The Church of “Santa Maria in Gradi” is just a few steps down the road. This church was built from a design by the great architect Bartolomeo Ammannati and inside there is a fresco series depicting the Apostles and an intriguing 18th century wooden ceiling. One of the chapels of the church houses the most significant art work preserved here, the paintings by Bernardino Santini and Salvi Castellucci who were the best pupils of Pietro da Cortona.
Just down the hill, you’ll come to the Piazza della Badia square and see the Church of Saints Flora and Lucilla. This church is full of Renaissance masterpieces by Vasari and Bartolomeo della Gatta but its Baroque features also shine through. The most spectacular feature is the trompe l’oeil painting by Andrea Dal Pozzo. This capable artist painted a canvas that creates an illusion of an actual dome within the space, located just above Giorgio Vasari’s altar.
Heading up Via Cesalpino street, you’ll encounter the Church of “San Pier Piccolo.” This is a wonderful example of art and architecture with works of art and reconstructions in the Renaissance and Baroque styles. In the interior space, there are gold and white stuccos from the 18th century, created by Carlo Sproni. This combines well with the 17th century canvases depicting the Stories of the Saints by Salvi Castellucci and the frescoes with the Samaritan at the Well of the Miracle with the Bread by San Filippo Benizi. The frescoes with the Madonna and Child Between Saints Jerome and John the Evangelist are all that remain of this church’s 15th century past. They are attributed to a religious follower from that time. There is one more treasure in the sacristy of the church. It’s a panel of the Blessed Giacomo Filippo Bertoni, the work of the Renaissance genius Bartolomeo della Gatta.
Going uphill on the Corso Italia street, you’ll come across the monumental Palazzo Lambardi building. This historic building now houses the Sugar Concept Store whose owners have managed to keep the architectural and artistic elements of the building intact while merging them with the contemporary art and architecture. This successful transformation of Palazzo Lambardi has created a unique visionary temple of fashion and style in Arezzo.
When you get to the Piazza Grande square, you’ll see that the Middle Ages and Renaissance styles dominate the area. It’s clear that Vasari has also left his mark everywhere, from the Vasari “Logge” to the “Palazzo of the Fraternità.” However, this building’s late 17th century Baroque facade is unexpected.
Going uphill once again, you come to the “Palazzo dei Priori.” This building is the seat of the Municipality of Arezzo and the “Palazzo del Trecento” which, over the centuries, was subject to Renaissance upgrades. Inside this building, there are 17th century frescoes by Salvi Castellucci depicting the Madonna and Saint Donald with the city of Arezzo as the background.
Heading out of the city walls through the “Porta San Lorentino” you come to the Church of Saints Lorentino and Pergentino. The original structure dates back to the 14th century but the interior is from the 18th century and is an example of full Baroque style. The stylistic contrast between these two periods is clearly visible and creates a rare intensity.
A tour that’s full of beauty and the sense of peace that accompanies sacred spaces. This is where silence merges with the magnificence of art in all its nuances. You’ll see churches and palaces worthy of kings and queens, find wonders that have been forgotten in time and discover a new path that begs to be taken at just the right pace. Give yourself this chance to contemplate Arezzo’s golden past.
- For art and history lovers
- For those who love hidden treasures
- For those who seek beauty in the little things of the past
- For those who love to walk, even uphill
- For those who love a bit of silence
- For those looking for the charm of the past
- For lovers of Baroque
- Comfortable shoes
- A camera to capture the perfect detail