Starting from Wednesday 8th December, enjoy this charming tour that begins from the most important church of the Tuscan city, the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donato, where you can admire the majestic central nave with a nativity scene characterized by large statues and, in the chapel of the Madonna del Conforto, the relief depicting the Madonna with Child and the poetic sculpture Mary in adoration of Jesus, both in glazed terracotta by Andrea della Robbia and workshop.
Walking down Corso Italia, surrounded by Christmas lights, you will arrive in front of the Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta, mother of all Arezzo churches, with its almost thousand years of history. Stop for a moment to savour the images that wrap the entire Romanesque facade with elegant columns and then enter. Solemn and austere, it makes you feel serene and peaceful, as wrapped in a mother’s embracing. Right next to the entrance, at the beginning of the left aisle, you will find – enclosed in a small but graceful relief dating back to the first half of the 13th century – the representation of the oldest nativity scene in Arezzo. Then visit the crypt, beneath the ancient altar and admire the beautiful nativity scene in motion.
Continue along Corso Italia and turn right into Via Cavour to reach the square piazza San Francesco : turn left and go ahead along via San Francesco. At the apse of the church, turn right into via Beccheria. In the Sala degli Archi, the first weekend of December, let yourself be amazed by the original nativity scenes displayed here. Unique pieces able to surprise you.
Continue along via Beccheria, turn right into via Guido Monaco up to piazza San Francesco, then turn left into via Cavour and reach piazza della Badia. Enter the magnificent Abbey of Saints Flora and Lucilla, Vasari’s church par excellence. Next to the entrance you will find a magnificent nativity scene in motion, where you can enjoy the alternation of day and night, sun, rain and snow, to enjoy slowly.
Go on with your walk along via Cavour, up to piazza Santissima Annunziata. Turn left, cross the square and enter the refined church of Santissima Annunziata, whose elegant arches take us back to florentine Renaissance. The miraculous statue of the Virgin Mary with Child, a delicate work by Michele da Firenze – one of the greatest Italian sculptors of the first half of the 15th century – is set in the main altar; while in the Ricciardi chapel at the end of the left aisle you will be astonished by the Nativity by Niccolò Soggi, a pupil of Pietro Perugino. Let yourself be captivated by the bright colours, by the elegance of the Renaissance architectures protecting the Holy Family, by the thin trees that stand out against the landscape in the background, by the clear sky and by the Angels who watch over the soft clouds. Take your time.
This itinerary will take you to the places where the true sense of Christmas is stronger than ever and you will be the only one to choose how to travel it: from the Cathedral down to the church SS. Annunziata, or from below towards the Duomo and the upper town. Let yourself be guided by your step and fully enjoy all the wonder.