Seeing the Piero della Francesca frescoes, the Legend of the True Cross, is a highlight of a visit to the Tuscan town of Arezzo. Piero della Francesca was one of the top Renaissance painters and La Leggenda della Vera Croce (Legend of the True Cross) is considered to be his masterpiece and one of the top Renaissance artworks in Italy.
Legend of the True Cross Viewing Information
Arezzo's unadorned San Francesco Church, Basilica di San Francesco, houses the famous Piero della Francesca frescoes. You'll find the 14th-century church in the lower part of Arezzo, about halfway between the train station and the cathedral. While the facade is simply made of brick and stone, inside are magnificent frescoes by several artists including Piero della Francesca. The Legend of the True Cross fresco cycle is in the Cappella Maggiore at the front of the church. You can see the frescoes from inside the church but to get a close up look you need to buy a ticket.
Go down the stairs to the left of the entrance door to the ticket office (there's a display about the frescoes at the top of the stairway). Visits are for 30 minutes maximum and only 25 visitors are allowed in at one time.
- Hours: Mon - Fri, 9:00 - 18:30, Sat 9:00 - 17:30, Sun and Holidays, 13:00 - 17:30.
- Tickets: at the time of writing 8 euro or 12 euro for a combination ticket that includes Casa Vasari, Medieval Art Museum, and Archeological Museum.
- Reservations (required although you can often just go to the ticket office and reserve for the same day).
- Check the Web site for Piero della Francesca in Basilica San Francesco for current times and prices.
Piero della Francesco Art in Tuscany
Piero della Francesco was born in Sansepolcro around 1420. Sansepolcro's museum (open 9.30–13.00 and 14.30-18.00) houses two of his major artworks, the Madonna della Misericordia and Resurrection of Christ. Another of his frescoes is in the Duomo of Arezzo. In nearby Monterchi, you can see his Madonna del Parto or Madonna in Labor. Florence's Uffizi Gallery also holds one of his paintings.
The hill town of Arezzo is in eastern Tuscany near the Umbria border and can be reached by train - see an online Tuscany rail map. It sees fewer tourists than some of the other Tuscany hill towns but is worth a visit. Its beautiful main square was used in filming the Roberto Begnini movie, Life is Beautiful.
The Casentino Valley wine and culinary trails branch out from Arezzo and can be explored by car.