Dwight Peck's personal Web site

Tuscany in the off-season

Arezzo and the neighborhood in February and early March, 2015


You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Arezzo was at the top of our list when we based ourselves in Lucca a few months ago, but we never made it this far south. So here we are now, based in Arezzo this time, with lots to see roundabout.

Last views of Arezzo (or Arezzo quinquies)

A bright day, 6 March, our last day in Arezzo, and we're scurrying out to tie up any touristy loose ends.

Once again, the back of the Romanesque Church of Santa Maria della Pieve in the Piazza Grande

The 18th century law courts and the Palazzo Fraternita dei Laici, or Lay Fraternity

Santa Maria della Pieve

The sloping Piazza Grande

The Corso Italia high street

Back for a last look into the Pieve di Santa Maria

A memorable church

A look back at the "tower of a hundred holes" on the Pieve di Santa Maria as we march briskly downtown

A benign police presence

Surprise, a church we haven't seen yet

The Chiesa di Sant'Agostino, built by the Augustinian order in 1257 against what was then the city wall; it was rebuilt in 1341, and the belltower completed in 1491. Transformations in the mid-18th century are said to have destroyed a lot of valuable frescoes by Spinello, Luca Signorelli, and Bartolomeo della Gatta. It's closed today anyway.

From the church, the Piazza di Sant'Agostino. Martin Luther may have stayed in the attached convent here on his trip to Rome in 1510.

Arezzo street scene, the Via Francesco Crispi, outside the pedestrian zone

The Roman Amphitheatre and the archaeological museum in the former monastery of San Bernardo from the 14th century

Not much left of it; it was built around the end of the 1st century AD and could hold about 8,000 spectators (some sources say much more), but most of it's been scavenged off for building materials in town.

The archaeological museum was established in the old monastery by the Fraternita dei Laici in 1822, but was acquired by the government in 1973, and the infrastructure and presentation are thoroughly modern now.

The museum is officially the 'Museo Archeologico Nazionale Gaio Cilnio Mecenate', after Maecenas (68-8 BC), who was born in Arezzo and became both a close advisor to the Emperor Augustus and perhaps the most famous patron of poetry and the arts in western history.

An Attic Red-Figure krater from ca. 430 BC

A reconstruction of a Roman party dining room

There is a great mass of Etruscan and Roman ware, some of manufacture in the region from the 6th century BC onward (Aretine coralline ceramics were widely sought around the Roman empire) and much of it imported through Greek and Greco-Etruscan ports around Italy.

Moe, Larry, and Curly

Lots of cute little figurines, presumably Roman lares household gods

One of the famous pieces in the museum, a tiny chrysographic portrait of some sleepy guy done in very thin gold foil and silver and sealed in glass.

Inadequate bicycle security planning

Arezzo sidewalk bookshop

"Great Tastes of America"

Street scene

Trattoria Mazzoni and its little traditional specialties store alongside

Great food, in the restaurant and next door, too, including the fine Calabrian Amaro del Capo.

There was an Etruscan-Roman shrine of Apollo on this site, but when San Bernardino of Siena tried to knock it down in 1425, the neighbors sent him packing. But he was back, of course, and the present Sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie was built between 1435 and1444, about two kilometres south of downtown Arezzo.

The façade and interesting portico were added in 1490. The church and grounds have been administered since 1695, with a few interruptions, by the Order of the Barefoot Carmelites (or 'Discalced Carmelites'), founded by the Spanish Saints Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross in the late 16th century.

-- Knock, knock! Quelqu'un?

The centrepiece of the unassuming interior is this huge altar, with the fresco image by Parri Spinello, ca. 1430, of the Madonna della Misericordia or Our Lady of Mercy . . .

. . . set into a marble altar by Andrea della Robbia himself, in about 1490, with terra cotta figures of the Madonna with two angels in the tympanum, the locally important Saints Lorentino, Pergentino, Donato, and Bernardino flanking the fresco, and a pietà in the base.

A closer look at Parri di Spinello's Madonna della Misericordia, in the traditional pose sheltering all of us little people

Looking towards Aretino city from the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie

This, from the car, is the 'Vasari Aqueduct' entering the city from the northeast, bringing fresh water from the hills, which was constructed between 1593 and 1603 and splashing out into the public well in the Piazza Grande, amongst other destinations in the city. There was also an aqueduct in the Roman era but little evidence of it seems to remain.

The tower of the Duomo from the northside carpark Pietra

The Arezzo Cathedral on a fine afternoon

Our last look at it, in fact

Back to the Piazza Grande, and the Vasari Loggia

The façade again of the Pieve di Santa Maria . . .

. . . and its beautiful porch. And just across the street . . .

The Casa Museo di Ivan Bruschi, built into part of the 13th century Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo and recently restored, sits across the street from the Pieve di Santa Maria.

Mr Bruschi was a world-famous antique dealer and collector who founded the city's monthly Antiques Markets in 1968; in addition to housing his own collections, the Casa di Bruschi is also the HQ of the Ivan Bruschi Foundation which works to carry on his tradition.

The collection is a hodge-podge of historically and artistically importants odds and ends, along with a lot of amusing curiosities, like the Wunderkammer or Cabinets of Wonders in many upper-class Renaissance homes back in the day.

Hodge-podge

Curiosities

The Santa Maria della Pieve across the street

Ivan Bruschi's restorations took place in the 1960s, but more recently the Banca Etruria has thoroughly restored it once again, as above, and supports the Foundation.

More elegant hodge-podge

-- Put me down, Mummy!

Back onto the Corso Italia; it's time to pack up

Arezzo, the city of antiques


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 6 May 2015.


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