If you are in Arezzo for a day, we suggest you plan in advance to visit what the city has to offer. The ideal starting point is from the upper old city part. Here, in Piazza San Domenico there is a stone bench waiting for you. Take a seat and let your gaze flow from the fountain to the circumference of the ancient public pit, traced on the red pavement, up to the asymmetrical facade of the church with its sail shaped bell tower.
Entering the Basilica, above you is the ceiling with wooden trusses, on your sides discreet decorations and partly recovered frescoes by Spinello Aretino and other artists of the past. The Crucifix by Cimabue hangs on the altar, an immortal masterpiece of which you can photograph the lines and the colors with your mind.
You will not regret climbing up the hill, on which Arezzo stands, to discover the Cathedral, just a few hundred meters from the Church of San Domenico. The bell tower stands on the Gothic cathedral dedicated to Saints Peter and Donato.
The statue of the Grand Duke of Tuscany Ferdinando I de’ Medici flanks the main facade, which remained unfinished until the twentieth century. After all, it took a couple of centuries to complete the building, built from 1278 to the beginning of the sixteenth century.
Its verticality makes you look up, but every corner of this place deserves your attention. The light from the outside filters through the stained-glass windows, illuminating the fresco of the Magdalen by Piero della Francesca. From the main altar the Ark of Saint Donato honors the memory of the bishop and martyr patron of Arezzo and it guards most of his remains.
As you walk along the left aisle you come across the Chapel of Our Lady of Comfort, protectress of Arezzo; the Virgin appears in a glazed terracotta from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia.
Have you noticed all the different columns supporting the two pulpits of the church? Are you fantasizing about the sounds that the pair of majestic pipe organs make? In its cathedral, Arezzo condenses spirituality, art and centuries of history: it is impossible to remain indifferent.
A jump in the past and beauty
A day is very little time for visiting Arezzo, so remember that this city is famous in Italy and around the world for one of the most extraordinary works by Piero della Francesca. Book your entrance to the Basilica of Saint Francis to be enchanted by the Bacci Chapel.
From Piazza del Duomo you can easily reach it going downhill along Piazza della Libertà and Via Andrea Cesalpino. The church in simple Gothic style preserves the cycle of frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross. Piero dedicates his eyes and heart to the story inspired by the “Golden Legend” written by Jacopo da Varagine.
An unmissable experience in your tour of Arezzo in one day: let yourself be captivated by the artistic narration of the famous Renaissance painter and you will feel like dreaming just like the Emperor Constantine in one of Piero’s scenes.
Reach the portici of Via Roma, continue on Via Francesco Crispi toward the Parco “Sandro Pertini” and on your right the second century B.C. Roman Amphitheatre of Arezzo appears. Able to accommodate over 10,000 sitting spectators on three separate floors, it was the largest public building in ancient Arretium.The land of its arena was trampled during gladiatorial games and hunts. In 1333 the Southern side of the complex was used to build the Monastery of Monte Oliveto, where today there is the National Archaeological Museum Gaio Cilnio Mecenate. Jewels, votive statuettes, earthen vessels sealed by Arezzo and a 500 B.C. Euphronios Crater are just some of the treasures you must absolutely admire here.
A small break…
Who wants a little shopping? The streets of the old city centre of Arezzo are the ideal place for a walk dedicated to shopping and souvenirs. From the Roman Amphitheatre head towards Corso Italia, the street, which from the area of the railway station to the Vasari Logge, crosses the oldest part of the city.
The shop windows of Arezzo will compete for your attention. From clothing to crafts, from food and wine to antiques indulge in the search for the best purchases. Join the “struscio” of passers-by and give yourself a moment of refreshment in one of the many clubs in the city centre, a small routine pleasure of which the Aretinians are fond.
Three naves and the apse that goes up to the rear part of Piazza Grande, its magnificent Romanesque architecture holds in the shade countless beauties: from a polyptych by Pietro Lorenzetti to the Chapel of SS. Sacramento, the baptismal font and much more. Walk at the bottom of the imposing columns of the Pieve without giving up an overall view from the raised presbytery.
The park Il Prato is the perfect place for a rejuvenating walk. In your visit to Arezzo in one day you will find it next to the Cathedral, going up from Corso Italia in via dei Pileati. Citizens of Arezzo come here to do sports and relax, enjoy a bit of coolness in the summer season and participate in major events of the city calendar such as the September edition of the Antique Fair.
A pine circle framing the marble monument in honor of the poet Francesco Petrarca is located between the Cathedral and the entrance to the Medicean Fortress of Arezzo. It has a star-shaped plan and heart-shaped bastions for the defensive structure (temporarily closed to the public) which replaced the ancient formwork in the Sixteenth century, according to the design of the architects Giuliano and Antonio da Sangallo the Elder.
In one day in Arezzo you cannot forget to visit a fundamental place: Piazza Grande, a brief few minutes’ walk in the direction of Corso Italia, behind the apse of the Pieve.
The Saracino Joust takes place right here, inside the inclined trapezoid which gathers in a single suggestive picture the pit, the Medieval towers, the Palazzo della Fraternita and the Loggia by Giorgio Vasari. Find the perspective from which you like to look at it, maybe from an outdoor table during the aperitif. Imagine it at sunset, when the sun gives way to the lights of the clubs where you can taste the best of local food and wine.
In front of this show, you will know that if Arezzo in a day is not enough, its beauty will welcome you again whenever you want.
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