The city of Arezzo has priceless works of art. From the frescoes Leggenda della Vera Croce by Piero della Francesca kept at the Basilica di San Francesco (Basilica of St. Francis) to the collection of Etruscan jewelry found in the necropolis of Poggio del Sole and now on display at the Museo Archeologico Gaio Cilnio Mecenate (Gaius Cilnius Maecenas Archeological Museum). Discovering these treasure chests of art is the best way to travel through time and learn about the city's history.
Starting from the lower part of Arezzo, a must-see is the Gaius Cilnius Maecenas Archeological Museum and Roman Amphitheater. Set up in the former monastero di S. Bernardo (monastery of St. Bernard) and built on the remains of the 2nd-century Roman amphitheater, it displays extraordinary collections in its 26 rooms. In fact, the most precious traces of the Etruscan and Roman city are collected here: statues, pottery, jewelry, and remnants of architecture.
Continuing toward the historic town center, a monument well worth visiting is the Basilica of St. Francis, which keeps one of the undisputed masterpieces of all Renaissance painting: the fresco cycle of the "Leggenda della Vera Croce," painted by Piero della Francesca between 1452 and 1466. The Leggenda della Vera Croce tells the story of the piece of wood from which the Cross of Jesus was built: grown from the branch that God placed in the mouth of dead Adam, the tree was to be used to build King Solomon's Temple but rebelled by shortening and lengthening as needed. Thrown into a river, it was used as a "bridge" until the Queen of Sheba prophesied its use. Solomon then had it buried, but the Israelites found it again and turned it into the cross of Christ. The frescoes are placed on three levels on the side walls and at the back of the Basilica's main chapel.
Twelve scenes in which Piero della Francesca does not respect the chronological progression of the story but develops symmetry between the various events he painted: at the top are outdoor scenes, in the center are court scenes, and at the bottom are battle scenes. Inside the Basilica, an Annunciation attributed to Luca Signorelli and a wooden Crucifix painted by a contemporary of Cimabue are worth seeing.
An important figure in the art world and beyond is certainly Giorgio Vasari, whose home tells the story of his thought and art. In the richly frescoed rooms of Casa Vasari you can admire a precious collection of paintings of Mannerism, the highest expression of Italian artistic civilization in the 16th century.
Finally, another stop on your itinerary to discover Arezzo's treasure chests of art is definitely the National Museum of Medieval and Modern Art, located in the historic Palazzo Bruni Ciocchi, Arezzo's most beautiful Renaissance palace. Treasures from the medieval and Renaissance periods are kept here. A precious treasure chest of paintings, majolica and glass objects from the medieval and Renaissance periods. Works by Giorgio Vasari, Spinello Aretino, Luca Signorelli, and Andrea della Robbia are preserved here. Free admission until 31 March 2023.
You can purchase tickets for individual museums and the single ticket for the Arezzo museum circuit (Basilica of St. Francis, Museo Statale di Casa Vasari (Casa Vasari State Museum) and Gaius Cilnius Maecenas Archeological Museum) at discoverarezzo.com