We begin our pilgrimage through Arezzo’s places of worship at the Cathedral of Santi Donato e Pietro, whose construction was approved in 1277 with a decree for a church that would “honour God, the Virgin Mary and the patron saint Donato”. But the official incentive for work to commence was the visit by Pope Gregory X, who in December 1275 stopped in the city on his way back from the Second Council of Lyon and died here on January 10, leaving a sum of 30 fiorinid’oro to the new cathedral. The exterior façade, undecorated for centuries, was completed between 1900 and 1914. The interior has three naves, no transept and five bays divided by striped pillars, as well as a polygonal apse. The seven stained glass windows by Marcillat and his workshop are true masterpieces, painted in two phases between 1516-1517 and 1522-1524. He is also attributed with the biblical stories painted in the vaults of the first three bays of the central nave and the first bay in the left aisle and the design of the staircase that leads into the basilica. It’s also worth noting what is probably the most important work held inside Arezzo’s cathedral, the fresco of Mary Magdalene by Piero della Francesca, painted in the 1460s.
Also in Arezzo, we find the Church of San Francesco, home to frescoes by Bicci di Lorenzo and Piero della Francesca commissioned by the Bacci family, as well as the important crucifixion over the altar – whose features express pain and resignation – attributed to Duccio di Buoninsegna and probably dating to 1289.