Arezzo is a treasure chest to be discovered. Piazza Grande, the Basilica of San Francesco and the places where scenes from La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful) were filmed are just some of the reasons why you should visit the city. In fact, even while just walking, you can come across snippets and stories that are only revealed to those who know to listen to them.
In this article, we will take you on a walking itinerary through the city taking in beauties, myths and the secrets of the LGBTQ+ past. We will discover the lives of several artists and the stories that hide in ancient vases, ending our walk in one of the meeting places of the LGBTQ+ community in Arezzo.
We begin our walk from the Vasari House Museum. Giorgio Vasari was born right here in Arezzo and a visit to the house of the Renaissance painter, sculptor and writer will allow you to learn more about life in those years.
The artist was the first biographer of art and thanks to his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, published for the first time in 1550, we are aware of the personal stories of the great artists of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, their works, and the impossible loves between Renaissance artists.
The Giorgio Vasari house Museum hosts over fifty paintings by artists trained by Vasari himself and is the perfect place to start a tour to discover the traces of Vasari in the Terre di Arezzo.
We now arrive at the Roman amphitheatre of Arezzo. Once you have passed the entrance, you will find the restored bust of Gaius Cilnio Mecenate.
Of Arezzo origins, Gaius Cilnio Mecenate was an important Roman figure, advisor to the Emperor Augustus and protector of several poets including Virgil and Horace, thus originating the term mecenate (patron).
In his private life, Mecenate had several loves, the most famous of which was Batillo, a dancer and Roman theatre actor. Their love was known and open enough to have been described by several Latin authors including Lucio Cornuto, Orazio and Seneca.
Even the Emperor was aware of it and referred to the disagreements that used to break out between theatre actors, Tacitus reveals in his Annals that Augustus "to indulge his friend Mecenate loose in love towards Batillo" used not to intervene to punish these acts.
Using the same entrance ticket as the Roman Amphitheatre, you can visit the most important Archaeological Museum in Arezzo, named after Gaius Cilnio Mecenate.
The museum is spread over 26 rooms, each of which houses artefacts such as coins, kraters, a reproduction of the famous Chimera of Arezzo (the original is kept in the National Archaeological Museum of Florence), jewels and many works that are linked to LGBTQ+ stories and myths. In the third room of the museum, for example, you can admire the wonderful Amazon Krater of Euphronios, probably the most famous Athenian ceramics artist and potter. The Attic red-figure krater represents the struggle between Hercules and the Amazons, the mythological people made up of warrior women who have become lesbian icons.
To continue the visit, we recommend you go in search of the works representing Hercules (the bronze statue of Etruscan origin is not to be missed) and reflect on his love stories with the young squire Ila, and his companion in adventure, Iolao.
Now let's move on to the Chimera Arcobaleno: this is the name of the association that has been active in the area since 2009, created to give a voice to gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people in the province of Arezzo.
The Chimera Arcobaleno association often organizes meetings and evenings, such as the famous Why Not, and is a great place to meet new people in the city.
The last stop on this walk is Parco Pertini, the largest public park in Arezzo. Also called Parco Giotto because of the Viale Giotto it overlooks, it's the perfect place to relax after this itinerary, enjoy a refreshing drink and maybe participate in one of the many events that usually take place here, such as the Pride of Arezzo 2021.