What to See and Do
Piero della Francesca is believed to have been born in Sansepolcro into a family who could give him an education and allow him to learn painting with artists taught in Siena.
Together with Domenico Veneziano, he painted the frescoes of the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, and could observe the works of other outstanding artists such as Donatello, Brunelleschi, Masaccio and Fra' Angelico.
He is not considered to have belonged to any particular movement as he had a style of his own characterized by perspective and humanism. Years later he devoted himself to writing instead of painting. Among his masterpieces are the Flagellation, Madonna del Parto, the Resurrection (Picture 1) and The legend of the True Cross. He died in Sansepolcro at the end of the 5th century.
The Museo Civico (www.sansepolcro.net) houses some pieces by Piero della Francesca such as the Resurrezione and the polyptych Madonna della Misericordia. Other works by Luca Signorelli, Pontorno, Raffaelino da Colle and Santi di Tito, whose protector was Piero della Francesca, are also exhibited in the museum. A highlight is Rest During the Flight into Egypt by Santi di Tito which depicts Jesus, Mary and Joseph escaping to Egypt.
On different levels there is an exhibition of frescoes dating back to the 14th and 15th century and on another level there are archaeological artefacts and small Christian decorative objects.
Just off the museum there is another museum the Aboca Museum at Via Aggiunti 75 (tel. 0575 73 35 89) which focuses on pharmaceuticals and herbal medicine in the 17th century. There is a life-size model of how a traditional laboratory would have looked at the time.
The cathedral (Picture 2) has undergone restoration recently and houses a magnificent wooden crucifix carved in the 10th century which is exclusive for being the third one to still be standing in the world. There are also Bartolomeo della Gatta’s frescoes and a Matteo di Giovanni polyptych .
The Museo della Vetrata Antica, located in the 12th century Church of Saint John, displays stained glass and a fabulous Last Supper of 25 panels each a huge 9 x 5m.
The churches of Sansepolcro are without exception worth visiting, especially the Church of Saint Antony housing Luca Signorelli’s painting on an ancient banner.
The tourist information office (tel. 0575 74 05 36; email@example.com) can provide information in many languages.
The Palio della Ballestra (Picture 3) held in September is a celebration in which the archers of Gubbio compete against those from Sansepolcro, of course dressed in typical medieval attire.