Roman Amphitheatre, Arezzo
Amphitheatre in Arezzo
The Roman period plays a significant role in the history of Arezzo, with the most tangible evidence being the remnants of a substantial Roman amphitheatre dating back to the first half of the 2nd century AD. This ancient structure is situated between Via Crispi and Via Margaritone, and its elliptical shape stands as a testament to the strong connection between the Tuscan city and Rome.
Construction of this impressive amphitheatre occurred during the reign of Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD), underscoring Arezzo’s importance in the eyes of the “Eternal City.” Initially serving as a point of refuge from the Etruscans, the city evolved into a strategic waypoint for Roman movements northward, eventually becoming a Roman garrison. Consequently, a substantial Roman population settled in Arezzo, necessitating the construction of facilities tailored to their customs and preferences, with the amphitheatre being one such structure.
The amphitheatre’s dimensions are truly remarkable, with an external measurement of approximately 120 meters along its major axis and nearly 70 meters along the minor one. As the Roman Empire began to decline, the amphitheatre faced a similar fate. The passage of time played a role, but the primary factor in its gradual decay was the systematic plundering of its materials, though fortunately, it did not suffer total destruction. Over the centuries, it served as a convenient quarry for stone and marble, notably contributing to the construction of the St. Bernard Monastery, which was established within the confines of the amphitheatre’s grandstands during the 14th century.
Thanks to restoration efforts carried out in various stages throughout the 20th century, substantial portions of this important Roman structure are now visible, offering insights into its design and purpose. The primary construction materials included sandstone, complemented by the use of marble and bricks. The amphitheatre featured seating areas and a tribune consisting of two tiers. To facilitate access and the movement of spectators, a corridor encircled the central arena, along with two covered passageways beneath the bleachers. Today, only the inner passageway remains intact. Of particular interest are the vaulted entrances to the amphitheatre , four in total: two along the major axis and two along the minor axis. These ancient openings, nearly two millennia old, provide unique vantage points offering views of both the arena and the Monastery of San Bernardo.
From the loggia of the St. Bernard Monastery, which has housed the Archaeological Museum of Arezzo since 1937, visitors can gain a comprehensive view of this archaeological site, which is typically not open to the public. Another captivating perspective of the Roman amphitheatre of Arezzo can be enjoyed from a path that runs alongside a section of its perimeter.
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Visiting Roman Amphitheatre, Arezzo
See National Archaeological Museum Gaius Cilnius Maecenas