Sansepolcro near Arezzo, the homeland of Piero della Francesca
Sansepolcro is a very nice town located in the high val Tiberina in province of Arezzo. When we talk about Sansepolcro we should also talk about its most famous son: Piero della Francesca. Piero was one of the greatest masters of the Renaissance and the town preserves some of his art-works. Among these, there is a fresco in Palazzo dei Conservatori that represents the Resurrezione di Cristo (resurrection of Christ). You should know that Sansepolcro in italian means “Holy Sepulchre”.
Now you are probably wondering if there is a connection between this town and the Holy Sepulchre where were stored the remains of Jesus…
Why is it called Sansepolcro?
According to a medieval tradition, the town of Sansepolcro was founded in the 10th century by Arcano and Egidio, two pilgrims returning from the Holy Land. The two would build here an oratory to preserve some Holy relics from the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. This story provides a good explanation about the origin of this unusual name.
We don’t know how much truth there is in this story, however, the documents of the eleventh century speak of an Abbey entitled right to the Holy Sepulchre.
Guide: things to do in Sansepolcro
In the southern area of the city centre, near the train station and some parking lots, there are some interesting churches: the chiesa di San Lorenzo, the former chiesa di Santa Chiara and the Chiesa di Santa Maria dei Servi. Each of these churches preserve some art-work, the most important is the Rosso Fiorentino‘s Deposizione located inside the church of San Lorenzo.
From the church of Santa Maria dei Servi take via della Fraternità to get to the Cathedral. Along the way you will cross the main square: Piazza Torre di Berta. A nice and wide square with some noble mansions and even a medieval tower.
Just beyond the square you’ll arrive in front of the Cathedral. Entitled to San Giovanni Evangelista, it was founded in 11th century and altered on several occasions until the twentieth century, when it were restored to its original form. Inside there are many things that deserve your attention. In a chapel on the left is the Volto Santo (holy face), a wooden sculpture probably of the Carolingian era. On the main altar is located the Niccolò di Segna‘s polittico della Resurrezione (XIV century); finally we mention the Resurrezione di Gesù by Raffaellino del Colle.
Outside the cathedral, stop to admire the surrounding architectures, squares, arches and palaces as the Palazzo delle Laudi, the town hall.
Created in 1975 inside the Palazzo della Residenza, the museum exhibits the art-works of the civic collection formed starting from XIX century and some frescoes coming from the churches of Sansepolcro. Here there are also some archaeological findings, pottery, engravings, prints, jewellery and vestments.
It is a very importante collection, here you can find the works of many artists as Piero della Francesca, Pontormo, Raffaellino del Colle, Andrea della Robbia and many others.
Address: via Niccolò Aggiunti 65
16 September – 9 June: 10.00-13.00 and 14.30-18.00
10 June – 15 September: 10.00-13.30 and 14.30-19.00
Closed on 25 December, 1 January
Tickets: regular 10 euro; reduced 8,50 euro (over 65 years, groups and youngsters 19-25 years); 4,50 euro (11-18 years); free 0-10 years, journalists and militaries
Piazza San Francesco
Close to the museo you can find the pretty piazza San Francesco with the chiesa di San Francesco and the chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie.
From the square take now via Aggiunti to get to other stops on our tour. At the number 71 there is the house of Piero della Francesca. Just beyond the chiesa di San Rocco and the Palazzo Bourbon del Monte that is now the seat of the Aboca Museum. The museum documents and traces the history of herbal medicine and the use of medicinal herbs.
Address: via Niccolò Aggiunti 75
April – September: 10.00-13.00 and 15.00-19.00
October – March: 10.00-13.00 and 14.30-18.00
Tickets: regular 8 euro; reduced (10-14 year, over 65, students) 4 euro; groups 6 euro; free for children under 10 years and tourist guides
The Fortezza Medicea (Medici fortress ) of Sansepolcro was projected by Giuliano da Sangallo and subsequently completed by Alberto Alberti in 1561. It is a military squared building with four angular reinforcements that is the remake of a previous construction of 1318. In the 19th century the fortress was used as a farm and today it is a private property. Sadly, the structure is not in good condition, the hope is that sooner or later it will be restored and made accessible.
Museo della Vetrata antica
Housed inside the deconsecrated church of San Giovanni Battista, the museum collects windows coming from the collection “Giuseppina Bernardini” and from the donation “Luigi Fatti”. They are mostly works of the 19th and 20th centuries. In addition to the windows, the Museum has a section devoted to the art of glass painting exhibiting sketches and engravings in addition to the materials and the tools used in glass making.
Address: via Giovanni Buitoni 9
Tickets: regular 1,50 euro
Things to do in the surroundings
The Val Tiberina has other interesting centers to visit: among these there are Pieve Santo Stefano, also known as the City of the Diary and Anghiari, the city made famous by the battle portrayed in the lost work of Leonardo da Vinci.
How to get to Santosepolcro
By car: from Arezzo (37 km) SS73; from Florence (115 km) or Rome (250 km) A1/E35 till Arezzo, then SS73
By train and bus: by train till Arezzo, from there by bus (lines Etruria Mobilità).