Arezzo / Piero della Francesca

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Friday afternoon in Poppi (photo at right taken after a short walk from town yesterday). Classes are finished for the week and we’re off to Arezzo, a bustling town south of Poppi that drips with historical significance. Accompanied by our friend and instructor, Antonio, we left the train station and walked a short distance up hill (in this, the land of hill-top towns) to the Piazza Della Francesca. Located here is the ancient Basilica of San Francesca, in which the Bacci chapel houses the fresco cycle of the Legend of the True Cross, the masterpiece that Piero della Francesca painted for the Franciscan church (c. 1452 – 1466) that features fabulous colors and elegant and geometrically-perfect figures. The ten frescoed panels (taken from the “legend” written by Jacopa da Varazze in the 13th century) reads like a comic strip, and takes the observer through the discovery and adulation of the “true” cross miraculously transported from Calvary to the middle ages in remarkably good condition.

On one of the panels, “The Battle of Constantine and Maxentius,” King Solomon is informed in a dream that prominently displaying the cross in battle would lead to victory In hoc signo vincis (“In this sign you will conquer”).

With no disrespect to the legend or Piero della Francesca, I contemporized an adaptation of the Latin (and its symbolized “sign”) that more closely aligns with the way many people are feeling today:

In Hoc Signo Vincis