If you decided to challenge the ill-fated weather forecast and just arrived in Arezzo, perhaps in the very moment you got off the train, the good old Zeus decides to bring thunders, but do not worry, your visit will be rain-proof. Let’s open your umbrellas and prepare yourself for time-travel in unrivalled beauty.
In summary, we could say that there is nothing you cannot see or enjoy in Arezzo under the rain. In practice, we will try to keep you dry, as far as possible, without giving up the art, good food and adventure.
First stop: The National Archeological Museum
Let’s say you have just arrived in Arezzo and a water bomb hits you. The first extraordinary shelter to run towards is the National Archeological Museum Gaio Cilnio Mecenate. It is located next to the Roman Amphitheatre which could only be seen from the museum because it is pouring.
The Archeological Museum Gaio Cilnio Mecenate guards the traces of the Etruscan and Roman Arezzo. A show for the archeological lovers and for those who are travelling with kids. Now it is the moment to put your umbrella up and return under the storm towards Saint Francis Square.
The old city centre and the frescoes by Piero della Francesca
Let’s walk toward the heart of the old city centre of Arezzo, toward the Basilica of Saint Francis and the cycle of frescoes of The Legend of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca. A perspective masterpiece of the Renaissance art.
Spoiler: within these gorgeous paintings you will find the Fifteenth century Arezzo skyline, used by Piero della Francesca for painting his Jerusalem- he must have been in love with Arezzo for comparing it to the holy city – and the Dream of Constantine, the first night painting in all of art history. Rating 10 ( we are biased, we know it. It is up to you and seeing is believing). Via Cesalpino, via Cavour and Corso Italia are full of cafes, bakeries and old grocery stores. This is a good excuse for a sweet or savory break which delights everyone.
Walking between sacred and profane
Full of Energy, we are now ready for a short climb up the Corso Italia. Up and Up we approach Pieve di Santa Maria Assunta in Arezzo, imposing and beautiful with its unique Romanesque style, with our face tilted upward for embracing with our eyes the so called bell tower of one hundred holes.
It is the time to close the umbrellas and enter the magnificent silence of this sacred place. Once across the threshold we will walk in the year one thousand until reaching a Fourteenth century painting masterpiece, the polyptych of the Virgin with child and Saints John the Evangelist, Donato, John the Baptist and Matthew by Pietro Lorenzetti. A mystic experience for everyone.
Once out of the Pieve, we enter the House Museum Ivan Bruschi without even re opening the umbrellas. Only few steps away, we just need to cross Corso Italia for accessing the treasure of the Antique Fair of Arezzo founder, Ivan Bruschi.
This museum guards works of art from every period from the Etruscan until the Twentieth century. Sacred objects, sculptures, paintings, arms, tapestries, coins, musical instruments, pieces of furniture, jewels and ancient books coming from all over the world.It is like the old magic trunk which everyone has always dreamt to find in the attic. Inside a treasure map for going on an adventure of worlds and undiscovered eras. You can be as old as you want but there is no age which can resist this wonder.
Piazza Grande, the queen of Arezzo
It is the moment to re-emerge from this dream in order to dive back to Corso Italia, unfortunately not too metaphorically, and climb up as curious salmon, under the rain, toward the most beautiful square in Arezzo, Piazza Grande.
Yes, we are advising to go to the square under the rain because the Logge del Vasari, the marvelous Renaissance building built by the Aretinian genius for framing the Medieval soul of this square, is there to protect you.
After such a beauty we are hungry. Are you? So let’s sit down calmly because outside it is raining and let’s start tasting the Aretinian recipes in the restaurants and trattorias of Piazza Grande and of the nearby alleys.
The handmade pasta with wild boar sauce, the beef tartare and the Chianina steak, the crostino nero with liver, the stuffed rabbit alla aretina, mushrooms and truffles in many different ways. And when in season even the chestnuts from Caprese Michelangelo, the biggest and sweetest DOP chestnut of Italy. You understand very well, here even the food is an art work. After a pastry, the cantuccis with Vin Santo and a good coffee it is time to restart our tour.
The Dome of Arezzo under the rain
We return again to Corso Italia to go straight up to the Dome of Arezzo. After climbing a white staircase we seek refuge in the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Donato. There will be no sun to cross the extraordinary stained glass windows by Marcillat and to flood the aisles with colors, but the beauty of this place will carry you into a journey of seven hundred years.
For the most dedicated travelers, here you can find some coordinates to orient you in so much art. In the left hand nave, the fresco of the Magdalen by Piero della Francesca and the relics of Blessed Pope Gregory X, on the main altar the imposing marble Ark of Saint Donato, Fourteenth century masterpiece to which very beautiful frescos and chapels along the right nave are matched. The wooden choir and the painting of the Baptism of Christ are Sixteenth century works by Vasari.
In the Dome you have to stop in the chapel of the most venerated and loved Virgin in Arezzo, Our Lady of the Comfort, she saved the city from the earth wake at the end of the Eighteenth century. You have to visit it not for the glazed terracotta plates by Andrea Della Robbia or for the monumental Neoclassic works by Pietro Benvenuti, Luigi Sabatelli and Luigi Ademollo, but for the huge love you can feel in this place which is able to inspire the soul of everyone.
Ready for the joust?
After such an intimate moment we have to hurry toward a thrill of adrenaline. It is time to discover the fierce and combative soul of Arezzo, the Saracino Joust. It is the local festival which animates the city in June and September and brings it back to the Middle-Age. Ladies, knights, drums and flag-throwers in this joust tournament and historic reenactment which inflames the city.
For living the Joust all the year, above all during a rainy day, you can visit the Museum of the Saracino Joust in the Palazzo del Comune. In the interactive and immersive path called “I Colori della Giostra” we find ourselves on horseback wielding our lance against the King of the Indies. In a challenge for the victor to win the most coveted prize of Arezzo: the Lancia d’Oro.
From Cimabue to Vasari
Let’s restart our journey again under the rain by passing from the images of the Joust to the shining gold of the wooden Crucifix by Cimabue, the most beautiful and touching of Medieval art history.
Let’s walk a bit under the rain, we promise, just long enough to reach Piazza San Domenico from Piazza del Comune and enter the Basilica di San Domenico. The Dying Christ will greet us and his divine humanity will be a touching surprise. No tears, the ones coming from the sky are enough.
There will be a lot of other things to do in Arezzo under the rain such as stopping at the pottery, wood or leather craftsmen shops or tasting a selection of Chianti wines in one of the city centre wine shops. Instead, we want you to go and visit the house of Giorgio Vasari, the man who shaped the face of Arezzo more than any other.
Going down from Piazza san Domenico, in a few steps we reach the Museum of Casa Vasari. It is the Aretinian house designed and realized by Vasari himself, it was his shelter from the intrigues of the Roman and Florentine court. It was his happy place, built and painted personally in every corner. Room after room, the images of myths and allegories tell about him, his art and the private and intimate Vasari from the ceilings and walls.
Now, we arrived at the end of our Arezzo under the rain. A surviving guide book (for a sudden or announced cloudburst) spiced up with art, history and culinary granny delights. For us, the only important thing is that Arezzo will be as happy a place for you as for the good Vasari.
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