Travel Reference
In-Depth Information
1452 and 1466, it relates in 10 episodes the story of the cross on which Christ was cruci-
This medieval legend is as entertaining as it is inconceivable. The illustrations follows
the story of the tree that Seth plants on the grave of his father, Adam, and from which the
True Cross is made. Another scene shows the long-lost cross being rediscovered by
Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine; behind her, the city of Jerusalem is represen-
ted by a medieval view of Arezzo. Other scenes show the victory of Heraclius over the
Persian king Khosrau, who had been accused of stealing the cross; Constantine sleeping in
a tent on the eve of his battle with Maxentius; and Constantine carrying the cross into
Two of the best-loved scenes depict the meeting of the Queen of Sheba and King So-
lomon. In the first half she is kneeling on a bridge over the Siloam River and meeting with
the king; she and her attendants are depicted wearing rich Renaissance-style gowns. In the
second half, King Solomon's palace seems to be modelled on the designs of notable archi-
tect Leon Battista Alberti.
Only 25 people are allowed into the chapel every half-hour (maximum 30-minute visit),
so advance booking is recommended. The ticket office is down the stairs located at the ba-
silica's entrance.
Pieve di Santa Maria
(Corso Italia 7; 8.30am-12.30pm & 3-7pm May-Sep, to noon & 3-6pm Oct-Apr) This 12th-century
church (Arezzo's oldest) has a magnificent Romanesque arcaded facade adorned with
dozens of carved columns, each uniquely decorated. Above the central doorway are 13th-
century carved reliefs known as the Cyclo dei Mesi , which represent the months of the
year. January's figure has two faces: one looks back on the previous year and the other
looks forward.
Inside, the undoubted highlight is Pietro Lorenzetti's polyptych, Madonna and Saints
(1320-24), beneath the semidome of the apse. Below the altar is a 14th-century silver bust
reliquary of the city's patron saint, San Donato. Other treasures include a 13th-century
crucifix by Margarito di Arezzo, which hangs near the door to the sacristy, and a fresco by
Andrea di Nerio (1331-69) on a column behind the alter (left-hand side) of Saints
Francesco and Domenico.
Piazza Grande
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