The Basilica of San Francesco, located in the heart of the historic center of Arezzo in the homonymous square, owes its fame not only to the beauty and charm that emanates, but above all to the fact that it is the guardian of the pictorial cycle of Piero della Francesca admired by all the world: “The Legend of the True Cross” (1452_1466) inspired by the Golden Legend of Jacopo da Varazze on behalf of the Bacci family.
At the end of the thirteenth century the Franciscan friars obtained permission to move to the center, decreed the construction of a project by Fra Giovanni da Pistoia; The works continued until 1322 even if its facade is still unfinished, as can be deduced from the fourteenth-century cladding only present in the base.
During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the Basilica were added baroque altars and works of great importance such as the Ecstasy of St. Francis by Bernardino Santini (1634) in the Muratori Chapel.
In 1863, the artist Pasquale Romanelli dedicated a monument to Vittorio Fossombroni, today placed beside the façade of the Basilica.
The very large interior consists of a single nave surrounded by chapels and niches from the 13th century; the floor is in tombstones, the wooden trussed ceiling, and in the middle of the high altar there is a work of the artist known as Maestro di San Francesco, contemporary of Cimabue, or the Crucifix representing Saint Francis bent to kiss the foot of Christ, brought by the Franciscan friars themselves.
Many works of great value present in the Basilica
Inside of the façade:
- The Savior, a Saint and the Supper in the house of the Pharisee works attributed to Giovanni d’Agnolo Balduccio or Parri di Spinello;
- Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine of the 15th century by an anonymous artist;
- San Sebastiano dating back to the 300th of an unknown author;
- Madonna enthroned with a son probably of Domenico Pecori;
- Stained glass window by Guglielmo de Marcillat dating back to 1524 in which Saint Francis is portrayed who gives roses to Pope Honorius III.
- Cenotaph of Antonio Roselli in the Roselli Chapel by Michele da Firenze;
- Canvas with the Virgin in glory and Saint Francis in the Chapel of Bernardino Santini;
- Table designed by Rosso Fiorentino by Antonio Lappoli;
- Chapel of the ‘400;
- Fresco attributed to Spinello depicting the descent of the Holy Spirit;
- Chapel in honor of St. Anthony of Padua; various frescoes by Lorentino d’Andrea;
- Chapel in memory of the fallen World War I, in the 15th century painted pillars.
- Madonna della Misericordia, Stories of San Bernardino da Siena in the Carbonati Chapel;
- Madonna and Child, St. John the Baptist, St. Bernardine, St. Francis and St. Anthony of Niccolò Soggi;
- Chapel with a statue of St. Francis; parts of Crucifixion of unknown Arezzo;
- two Saints warriors of the school of A. del Castagno;
- Crucifix of the ‘300 in the Sinigardi Chapel;
- remains of an Assumption by Giovanni da Ponte;
- Madonna and Child with the story of the four saints crowned in the Parri di Spinello stone chapel;
- San Donnino and San Niccolò by an unknown artist;
- sarcophagus of Blessed Benedict Sinigardi and Crucifix of the ‘600 in the Gozzari Chapel;
- Francis receiving the stigmata and St. Michael the Archangel of Iacopo Landino;
- Baptism of Jesus, St. Catherine and the Annunciation of Spinello.
- Frescos by Spinello Aretino in the Guasconi Chapel;
- Madonna of the cloak by Niccolò di Pietro Gerini;
- Legend of the True Cross by Piero della Francesca in the Cappella Maggiore;
- Annunciation and Santi Girolamo and Francesco di Neri di Bicci;
- Annunciation by Luca Signorelli;
- Ciborium in marble;
- Crucifixion of Spinello Aretino.