We arrived in Arezzo at dusk and by the time we walked to the highest elevation of this medieval hill town night had fallen. The interior of San Domenico, a Gothic church, was dimly lit so we slipped a euro in a pay light-box.
Crucifix, Cimabue c 1268-71. San Domenico, Arezzo.
Cimabue’s startling crucifix lit up above us. Here was Jesus is contorted in pain, his body dynamically bending from the cross center. His loin cloth resembled dripping blood. His musculature was…..bizarre.
With this crucifix, Cimabue advanced out of the Byzantine age into a new era of art history. Cimabue has a first rate legacy: he was Duccio’s teacher and then Duccio went on to teach Giotto. (And you know how much I love Giotto, don’t you?).
HOB and I were fortunate enough to visit Arezzo again a year or so later to admire this exquisite crucifix a second time. I’ll always be grateful, though, that my first encounter with Cimabue’s masterpiece was in a silent, dark church, suddenly illuminated by a coin dropped into a light-box.
How we got to Arezzo: train from Siena.
Where we slept: Hotel Piero della Francesca. Price: €77 for a double. Recommended: well, the hotel is great, but we only stayed here because our B&B cancelled on us at the last minute. Try to find a place that’s cheaper and closer to the historical center.