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Basilica di San Francesco – Piero della Francesca frescoes

  • Basilica di San Francesco – Piero della Francesca frescoes

    For art-lovers, Arezzo’s star attraction is Piero della Francesca’s painstakingly restored fresco cycle in the barnlike Basilica of San Francesco. These virtuoso works of art have survived an earthquake, lightening and an attack by Napoleonic troops.  These well-preserved frescoes illustrate the Legend of the True Cross (1452–66), a complex story presented in the local artist’s haunting style. The most compelling scene in Anthony Minghella’s The English Patient was filmed here. This church is often considered the start of a spiritual trail in Piero della Francesca’s footsteps that also leads back to the artist’s home town of Sansepolcro.

    One of the country’s greatest treasures is on display in the Cappella Bacci inside this cavernous church. The beguiling fresco cycle weaves together a complex story in which the wood of the Tree of Knowledge (from which Adam and Eve ate the apple) becomes the wood of the cross on which Christ died. Legend has it that it was later discovered by the Empress Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine the Great, who converted to Christianity and made it the state religion of the Roman Empire in 313 AD. What matters more than the story is the spirituality that suffuses Piero della Francesca’s art. His frescoes have a transcendent quality that elevates his work beyond the mere mastery of perspective and space. Look for his graceful figures dressed in Renaissance gowns and framed by idealised depictions of Arezzo and Sansepolcro. (Entry is via timed-entry tickets, with the option of an audio-guide, and available as combined tickets with the Casa Vasari, Vasari’s House).

    Address: Piazza San Francesco, Arezzo
    Web: www.pierodellafrancesca-ticketoffice.it

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