When someone asks what’s my Arezzo’s favourite spot, I answer, without dubts, that is the color of the sand stone when it reflects the late afternoon sunlight. Definetly Arezzo claim such incredible views (like Piero della Francesca’s frescoes in San Francesco Basilica or Piazza Grande…) but the ancient flavour of that stone, its softness and solidness as the same, are for me representatives of Arezzo’s true soul.
If you leave your car in via Giuseppe Pietri’s parkings and climb up to the city by the escalators, the first image you can see is exactly the sand stone facade of the Cathedral. The construction dates back to the thirteenth century but the facade, you cannot say, was completed only at the beginning of last century. The interior is the typical one of a gothic cathedral, as you can see many of those in Italy, but once you are in your attention is immediatly captured by the white marble light in the altar area, almost like a reverberation of divine light.
The square by the Cathedral hosts the Town Hall Building, restored in medieval stile, and the neoclassical Province one.
Turn before reaching Prato area and get off Corso Italia to discover the real medieval side of the city. You will see the Palazzo del Podestà, that in medieval times hosted the mayor, and now is the main library of the city. Stop by the magnificent Pieve di Santa Maria, with its bare walls it is often location for classical music or chants concerts. This church is almost two centuries older than the main Cathedral and has a crypt inside that hosts the head of the first martyr in Arezzo, the patron San Donato.
Passing along the Pieve di Santa Maria, you can step in Piazza Grande, Arezzo’s most famous image. In this square, twice a year it takes place a medieval tournament called “Giostra del Saracino” and once a month it is filled with antiques fair’s stalls. The square is framed in the north side with a loggia designed by Giorgio Vasari, the famous painter and architect who spent his life working by Medici’s family and that had Arezzo as his hometown.
Come back to Corso Italia and continue descending until you reach Via Cavour, it will lead you to Piazza San Francesco. Take a coffe break in Caffè dei Costanti, before entering in San Francesco’s Basilica (you need reservation!). If you think you are just a less of an art lover, you can’t miss the visit to Piero della Francesca’s frescoes: artists from all over the world come here, at Cappella Bacci, as “pilgrims” to learn something from Piero. These frescoes are a milestone in art, as Giotto was in Padova and Michelangelo in the Vatican. Ask to Vittorio Sgarbi, a famous italian art critic, that many times has remarked how important is for italians to know Arezzo, important as knowing pizza!
These are just the highlights of a short walk in Arezzo, that can become a bodied visit if you add some other city treasures as Cimabue’s crucifix in San Domenico, the pretty Casa Vasari, the curious Casa Bruschi and many more. If you are not bored by this description we can continue talking about that, as soon as you come to visit us at La Lisa!