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An article from the 1911 Encyclopaedia Britannica, now in the public domain.
Any color photos are mine, © William P. Thayer.

Vol. II

Arezzo (anc. Arretium), a town and episcopal see of Tuscany, Italy, the capital of the province of Arezzo, 54 m. SE of Florence rail. Pop. (1901) town, 16,780; commune, 46,926. It is an attractive town, situated on the slope of a hill 840 to 970 ft. above sea-level, in a fertile district. The walls by which it is surrounded were erected in 1320 by Guido Tarlati di Pietramala, its warlike bishop, who died in 1327, and is buried in the cathedral; they were reconstructed by Cosimo I de' Medici between 1541 and 1568, on which occasion the bronze statues of Pallas and the Chimaera, now at Florence, were discovered. The town itself is L-shaped, the streets, which contain some fine old houses with projecting eaves and many towers, radiating from the citadel (Fortezza), which was constructed in 1502, and dismantled by the French in 1800. The cathedral, close by, is a fine specimen of Italian Gothic begun in 1277, but not completed internally until 1511, while the façade was not begun until 1880. The interior is spacious and contains some fine 14th‑century sculptures, those of the high altar, which contains the tomb of St. Donatus, the patron saint of Arezzo, being the best; very good stained-glass windows of the beginning of the 16th century by Guillaume de Marcillat, and some terra-cotta reliefs by Andrea della Robbia. Another old church is S. Maria della Pieve, having a campanile and a façade of 1216, the latter with three open colonnades running for the whole length above the doors. The interior was restored to its original style in 1863‑1865. The Romanesque choir and apse belong to the 11th century, the rest of the interior is contemporary with the façade. In the square behind the church is a colonnade designed by Vasari. In the cloisters of S. Bernardo, on the site of the ancient amphitheatre, is a remarkable view of medieval Rome. S. Francesco contains famous frescoes by Piero de' Franceschi, representing scenes from the legend of the Holy Cross, and others by Spinello Aretino, a pupil of Giotto. There are several other frescoes by the latter in S. Domenico. Among Renaissance buildings the churches of S. Maria delle Grazie and the Santissima Annunziata may be noted. The collection of majolica in the municipal museum is very fine, and so is that of the Funghini family. In the middle ages Arezzo was generally on the Ghibelline side; it succumbed to Florence in 1289 at the battle of Campaldino, but at the end of the century recovered its strength under the Tarlati family. In 1336 it became subject to Florence for six years, and after intestine struggles, finally came under her rule in 1384. Among the natives of Arezzo the most famous are the Benedictine monk Guido of Arezzo, the inventor  p457 of the modern system of musical notation (died c. 105); the poet Petrarch; Pietro Aretino, the satirist (1492‑1556); and Vasari, famous for his lives of Italian painters. The town never possessed a distinct school of artists.

(See C. Signorini, Arezzo, Città eº Provincia, Guida illustrata (Arezzo, 1904).

[T. As.]

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Page updated: 18 Nov 17