The itinerary unwinds from north to south through two valleys: the Valdarno and the town of San Giovanni and the Valdichiana as far as Cortona.
What these two places share is the fact that they are both sites of the artistic activity of a great Renaissance Florentine painter, the Dominican “Beato Angelico” (Guido di Pietro Tosini, Vicchio di Mugello 1387/1400-Rome 1455).
In the Museum of Santa Maria delle Grazie in San Giovanni Valdarno we can admire a panel painting of the Annunciation, one of the artist’s most delicate works. Executed between 1430-32, the work originates from the Franciscan convent of Montecarlo, just a few kilometres from the town of San Giovanni Valdarno.
Having left San Giovanni Valdarno, we continue along the Provincial Road no. 69 as far as Arezzo. From here we take the Regional Road no. 71 to reach Cortona.
This city of very ancient origins conserves impressive stretches of its wall circle from the Etruscan period, datable around the fifth century BC. From the Mediaeval period we can still see the churches of San Francesco and San Domenico and mansions such as the Palazzo Comunale and Palazzo Casali.
In this town the presence of the Florentine artist can be found in the Museo Diocesano. Displayed in the main hall, originally the baptistery of the former church of Gesù, are two panel paintings by Beato Angelico: an Annunciation and a Madonna and Child with Four Saints, both painted for the church of San Domenico. These two paintings, as well as a fresco which the artist painted for the lunette of the entrance door of the church, were executed between 1434-38, a few years later than the San Giovanni painting, during the artist’s sojourn in the Dominican convent of Cortona (Beato Angelico stayed here up to 1438).
While in the earlier Annunciation the artist appears more closely linked to Masolino, the Cortona Annunciation reveals the teaching of Masaccio.