Giorgio Vasari was born in Arezzo in 1511, just as the Renaissance was flowering all around him. Though he never achieved the greatness of many of the other artists working around him, Vasari helped define the period—and may have even coined the term “Renaissance” for the creative period that led Europe out of the Dark Ages. An architect as well an artist—he designed the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence—Vasari is best known for Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, a rather juicy account of the great masters, many of whom Vasari knew personally. He settled down here in his hometown in 1540 and set about frescoing the walls and ceilings of his gracious house with classical themes and portraits. Check out his playful fresco “Virtue, Envy, and Fortune” in which each of the three competing figures appears most prominent depending on where you’re standing. In the Room of Celebrities, Vasari painted portraits of Michelangelo, Andrea del Sarto, and other notable contemporaries, surrounding himself with the cultural greats of his day. Vasari’s copious correspondence, including 17 letters from Michelangelo, is sometimes on view. While the original furnishings are no longer in place, part of the beautiful garden remains, and like the rest of the house provides a glimpse of a cultured Renaissance lifestyle.