Arezzo, Anghiari, Monterchi – Dolly Travels

Published Date Author: , November 10th, 2017



Yesterday, we had the pleasure of finding some new towns in Tuscany, thanks to our friends, Massimo and Magda Carli. These people, as most of you know, are our Italian landlords and good friends for the past 16 years.

Massimo and Magda live in Viareggio, but they came to Florence, and took us on a driving tour to the more southeastern heart of Tuscany, to places where I had not traveled before.

First, we drove to Arezzo, which is a charming old town, but clean and most of the buildings were in good repair. The city itself dates back to Etruscan times, so it was first settled before 500 B.C.

We started our tour, guided by Massimo, to the Basilica of San Francesco. This church is dedicated to Saint Frances of Assisi, and he apparently traveled throughout this region, for one of his first followers and companions, is sealed in a sarcophagus with a glass lid, so visitors can view him. The primary attraction in this church are the restored frescoes of Piero della Francesca, a local boy, other well-known frescoes in churches throughout Tuscany. Michelangelo was also from this region.

The construction of this basilica was begun in the last half of the 13th century and finished in the early 14th century.


Inside the church, looking toward the Bacci chapel, with its fabulous frescoes, depicting scenes of Christ and the legend of the “True Cross”. I will leave that to you to research and understand the meaning, and why it is so important to Christians.

When we left the church, we walked through the town, up to the Piazza Grande. There were tourists, to be sure, but most of the tourists were like us: couples or small groups; none of the big tour groups we have encountered in Rome and Florence.

Another famous citizen of Arezzo is Robert Begnini, the director and star of the Italian film, “Life is Beautiful”. Some of the scenes of that movie were shot in this piazza.

We had lunch, then wandered around a bit. I don’t know why these oxen were in the Piazza Grande, but they were, with a wooden cart sitting nearby that they were to pull, I believe.

We got back into the car, and Massimo drove us to another hill town, much smaller than Arezzo, but such a lovely town. I started looking at real estate ads.

The buildings and the atmosphere of this small village reminded me of Montepulciano. I love these hill towns.

We did not want to walk up the steep hill to the church, so we left Anghiari and drove another half hour or so, through the lovely Tuscan countryside, where we saw people harvesting tobacco, which is the primary agricultural crop in this area. That was surprising to me, for I thought tobacco grew in warmer climates.

Finally, we reached the hamlet of Monterchi, which is further into the mountains, and further east. For in that small town was a museum that housed an important frescoe from Piero della Francesca, called “Madonna del Parto”, depicting Mary about to give birth, but in a setting attended by two angels. I am sorry that I could not get a picture of it, for it is well protected in a special room, and the attendants were watching the visitors very carefully. Do look it up on the internet, for it is a very lovely frescoe.

So there ended our tour of the three villages in Tuscany, none of which I had seen before. I was very pleased to see all the art work and amazed at the history of these villages.

We traveled back to Florence and the four of us enjoyed a late dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, Ristorante di Mimmo, which was close enough for us to walk, after Massimo parked the car, for finding a parking place in Florence on a Saturday night is no easy task. Ciao for now,


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