Cappella Bacci

sights / Religious

Cappella Bacci information

Arezzo , Italy
Piazza San Francesco
+390 575 35 27 27
More information
adult/reduced €8/5
Opening hours
9am-6.30pm Mon-Fri, to 5.30pm Sat & 1-5.30pm Sun May-Aug; 9am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, to 5pm Sat & 1-5pm Sun Sep-Apr
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Gracing the apse of the 14th-century Basilica di San Francesco is the Capella Bacci, a chapel housing one of the greatest works of Italian art, Piero della Francesca's fresco cycle of the Legend of the True Cross . Painted between 1452 and 1466, it relates in 10 episodes the story of the cross on which Christ was crucified.

This medieval legend is as entertaining as it is inconceivable. The illustrations follows the story of the tree that Seth plants on the grave of his father, Adam, and from which the True Cross is made. Another scene shows the long-lost cross being rediscovered by Helena, mother of the emperor Constantine; behind her, the city of Jerusalem is represented by a medieval view of Arezzo. Other scenes show the victory of Heraclius over the Persian king Khosrau, who had been accused of stealing the cross; Constantine sleeping in a tent on the eve of his battle with Maxentius (note Piero's masterful depiction of the nocturnal light); and Constantine carrying the cross into battle.

Two of the best-loved scenes depicts the meeting of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon. In the first half she is kneeling on a bridge over the Siloam River and meeting with the king; she and her attendants are depicted wearing rich Renaissance-style gowns. In the second half, King Solomon's palace seems to be modelled on the designs of notable architect Leon Battista Alberti.

Only 25 people are allowed into the chapel every half-hour (maximum 30-minute visit), so advance booking is recommended. The ticket office is down the stairs located at the basilica's entrance.