Pieve di Santa Maria, completely built of sandstone and situated between Corso Italia and the Piazza Grande behind, is one of the largest and most attractive Romanesque "pievi" (parish churches) in Tuscany.
The construction of this majestic building, which is an example of the architecture of the earliest medieval nucleus of Arezzo, is tied to the origins of the Commune.
It was begun in the second half of the 12th century on the remains of a church that went back to the years 1000, traces of which remain in the portal in via di Seteria, but it was not completed until the first decades of the 14th century; alterations and restorations were carried out in the 16th century, 19th century and in our own time.
The Romanesque facade was originally simple, but, with the rise of Pisan influence, a series of blind arches surmounted by three sets of horizontally crowned porticos were added to the lower floor.
There is a wealth of sculptures of various origins: worthy of note are the 13th century composition dedicated to the Madonna in the lunette of the main portal and the basrelief from the same period portraying the passing of the months.
The campanile dalle cento buche (hundred holed belltower, 1330) offers an unusual contrast to the horizontal movement of the facade. It is so called because of the 40 Romanesque double arched mullioned windows, divided into five orders, which, together with the long lateral buttress, accentuate the tower's upward thrust (59 metres).
The interior, whose structure is Romanesque, is divided into a nave and two aisles, which end in one very wide apse, with slightly ogival pre-Gothic colonnades and old presbytery, built above a crypt and arbitrarily redone in recent years; the famous polyptych (Madonna with Child, Annunciation, Assumption), painted in 1320 by Pietro Lorenzetti for bishop Guido Tarlati, the fresco of the Saints Francesco and Domenico by an early 14th century artist of Giotto's school; the Chapel of the Sacrament and the reliquary-bust (1346) of bishop Donato, the town's Christian patron.
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