With its origins dating back to the Paleolithic era, Etruscan Arretium was founded around the 9th-century BC, and quickly became one of the most important cities in Tuscany, playing an important role over the centuries due to its strategic position along the Via Cassia. Arezzo's most powerful period came during the Middle Ages, before the town was taken over by Florence, and even though much of the centre was destroyed during World War II, Arezzo is today a vibrant wealthy city with many exquisite monuments, churches and museums remaining, allowing visitors a unique opportunity to step back into the city's rich and colourful history. The city's greatest artistic treasure however, is Piero della Francesca's fresco cycle The Legend of the True Cross, located in the Basilica of San Francesco. Started in 1452, this early Renaissance masterpiece tells the story of the 'True Cross', considered to be Piero della Francesca’s greatest masterpiece and narrates a medieval story about the cross on which Jesus was crucified. The story tells the legend of the cross used to crucify Christ, from sprig to Tree of Knowledge, to its use a bridge during the reign of Solomon, and ultimately its discovery by Helena, mother of Constantine, the first Christian emperor.
Piero della Fransesca's fresco of the Legend of the True Cross
Closeup of the 'Annunciation'
The Dream of Constantine, one of the earliest nocturnal scenes in Western art
Triptych beside the Legend of the True Cross
A Friar lights candles on the altar in preparation for a special service
After viewing the fresco cycle, the church stopped admitting visitors as a special mass
started to get underway
As the mass started, each member of the clergy stood and began to sing in harmony
Once the service became more intense and the devout began to pray, we left the church quietly and made our across the piazza for lunch
One of the more picturesque places to eat in Arezzo, is under the beautiful sun bathed Loggia designed by Giorgio Vasari. One of the prettier restaurants nestled under the vaulted colonnade is Trattori Lancia D'Oro, which serves traditional Tuscan and Arezzo cuisine with delicious homemade pasta and an admirable wine list of local wines — the ideal spot to enjoy a wonderful lunch, a bottle of wine and wait out the stormy weather out on the piazza.
With a little rain and a wee bit of thunder, we found a lovely outdoor trattoria in the Vasari Loggia
The outdoor loggia of La Lancia D'Oro
The menu features typical Arezzo cuisine
Warm homemade foccacia with roasted tomato and zucchini
An amuse bouche of hot tomato and bread soup
A local Chianti
A glass of lovely red wine to enjoy with our lunch
Rocca di Castagnoli Le Pergoline, a Tuscan white wine
A light crisp white wine, perfect for a sunny and stormy afternoon
Lasagna Verde with béchamel and bolognese sauce
Pici al Ragu di Chinghiale