Sansepolcro birthplace of  Piero della Francesca

Sansepolcro in the Arezzo province of Tuscany is home to medieval pageants and archery festivals, and Pierro della Francesca, born in the 15th century,  whose works are visible in many of the churches and the town's museum, Museo Civico, and the home to Luca Pacioli an Italian mathematician. It is also the most important town in the Tuscan Upper Tiber River Valley .

Famous Paintings in Sansepolcro

Madonna della Misericordia The Resurrection

Sansepolcro is not a place where people generally flock, as it is not considered a great tourist attraction, but this little walled town has a wealth of history, and numerous artworks, especially Piero della Francesca's Madonna della Misericordia and The Resurrection . Both these paintings can be viewed in the Museo Civico on Via Niccola Aggiunti.

Piero della Francesca was a great painter who is recognized as being the first to apply the techniques of perspective to his paintings. You can also visit his home here in Sancepolcro. There are many of his paintings throughout Tuscany and other parts of Italy, known as the Francesca Trail .

There are two churches of note to visit. The first is the large cathedral or Duomo in a Romanesque-Gothic style. This church is of personal significance to us, because it was here that the seller went to prayer before signing the papers that would allow us to purchase her farm. We had been in negotiations for months with her and then finally we thought we had the sale all tied up.

However, in out trip to the agents in Sansepolcro we came across the owner's husband quietly puffing on a cigarett outside of the Duomo. On further enquiry we found that his wife was in the catherdral saying a prayer and looking for a sign that would finally clinche the deal. We were never told what sign was given by the heavenly powers that be, but she finally signed off on the deal!

Go inside the Duomo and you will see a wonderful window that is glazed with thin panels of alabaster, as are the other windows, giving the interior of the church a pleasant warm light. Here are some famous artworks by Perugino as well as a tenth century
Volto Santo ("HolyFace").

The other church in Sansepolcro that is my favourite out of the two, with some magnificent artwork is the church of San Lorenzo. My only complaint is that this church is very gloomy and dark and so it is not easy to see the wondeful artwork inside at certain times of the day. You will find the church on Via Sante Croce, and look out for the main altarpiece called the  
Deposizione ,  - (Christ being take down from the Cross) by Rosso Fiorentino.

Museums in Sancepolcro

There are several museums in this walled town, there is a lace museum  Museo del Merletto , and an antique glass museum called the Museo della Vetrata Antica.

There is also a very interesting herbal museum called the
Aboca Museum which you can tour and buy herbal skin and health products from their shop on site.

The main place where everyone heads is the Museo Civico for the artwork just discussed. The museum, housed in the 14th century Palazzio Communale holds not just art by famous artists like Piero del Francesca and Andrea della Robbia but there are some modern artists housed here too.

However, September is the month where Sansepolcro, with its contests, becomes the Rennaisance setting of one of the most successful historical reconstructions in Italy in the form of the annual crossbow competition, or Palio of Archers, in Italian known as the
Il Palio della Balestra di Sansepolcro .

Festivals in Sansepolcro

The Crossbow Competition in SansepolcroPalio of Archers Sansepolcro

The crossbow competition called the Palio della Balestra takes place on the second Sunday of September between Sansepolcro and Gubbio has been documented as taking place since the beginning of the sixteenth century, but there are historical sources that confirm that this competition has been going long before that, given that the crossbow was introduced to Sansepolcro when it was called Borgo Santo Sepolcro way back in the fourteenth century.

However, when it originated is not important when you visit to see this Medieval pageant and get carried away with the festivities that take place in the lovely setting of the Piazza Torre di Berta.

Here the herald, sitting on horseback, reads the call to battle in the morning to the rivals from Gubbio, Umbria. This usually takes place at bout 11:30 a.m.

In the afternoon, at about 4:30 p.m after the blessing, the historical procession takes place to mark the opening of the ceremony.

Then, at 7:00 p.m. the crossbowmen enter the square to the sound of beating drums and cheers from the crowds. Flagbearers into the spirit of the occasion by throwing the standards into the air with the colors of the various neighbourhoods of Sansepolcro.

Finally, the crossbowmen take their places, the crowds hushed, and each contestant takes his place at the shooting range and does his best to aim true with his arrows and hit the target of the cherry tree.

In the following May, the Palio of Archers competition is then hosted in the town of Gubbio.

Sansepolcro Itay for the Crossbow Competition - Settembre Biturgense

September is the festival month in Sansepolcro. It is here that the Palio or Crossbow Competition takes place but it is also the month where there is a time of dancing and feasting as well as an historical recreation of a Renaissance village throughout the streets with ancient crafts,flag games, processions of ladies and knights, a Renaissance Banquet and Dance, jugglers and musicians which all starts during the first week of the month in the Cloister of Santa Chiara.

Sansepolcro Italy for the Mid-Lent Fair - Mezza Quaresima

This is an historical fair, called the Mid-Lent Fair that runs from Thursday to Sunday in the fourth week of Lent. Also, on the Saturday, there is a traditional cattle fair. During the Mid-Lent Fair there are 300 stalls of exhibitors from local artisan products, food and wine and a popular market. Buy food and taste food of the region, also see architectural machinery, and cars.

You can also find artists displaying handmade jewellery, and picture frames. You can also find traditional foods as well as figs, roast pork, bread and other traditional food items from the area.

Markets in Sansepolcro

Every Tuesday and Saturday a general market is held where you can buy fresh fruits and vegetables, local produce, clothes, shoes, flowers, household items and much more.

There is also a market called
Mercatale that includes a number of other towns such as Arezzo and Bibbiena. In Sansepolcro the market takes place in Piazza Torre di Berta on the 3rd Saturday of every month.

The main aim of this market is to improve the knowledge of local food and to have a show case of local producers, artisan products and associations. Here you will find porcini, truffles, bread, salami, olive oil, homemade cheeses, herbs, vegetables, honey and flowers.

The Convent of Montecasale

The convent of Montecasale in Sansepolcro

The Convent of Montecasale is a good place to visit if you are in the area. Tucked away in the green hills overlooking Sancepolcro the only way to get there is a 10 minutes drive out of the town. This building was dates from 1192, and built on the ruins of a fortress, and there have been several modifications since then. It was built to accommodate traveling pilgrims and to offer them a hospice if they were ill.

Capuchin Franciscan friars now live here and are happy to give you a guided tour of the complex consisting of chapels, cloisters, a library, a dining room, kitchen and monk cells. It is open to guided tours during the day from 9:30 a.m. - 12:00 and then again from 3:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.

One can also stay at the convent for a retreat. However, you do have to contact the friars first to make sure that there is availability and you need to supply your own bedding and food. In addition there is a nominal daily fee for your stay.

Here is a map showing you the location of where the Convent Montecasale is located.

Location map for convent montecasale in Sansepolcro

Directions to Convent Montecasale:

Take the Strada Statale 73 out of Sansepolcro that intersects with Via dei Molini. Head south on the 73 until you come to Strada Comunale della Montagna. The road will split, take the road on the right and keep going. You will come to avenues of pine trees. Carry on until you get to the convent.

Where to Eat and Stay in Sansepolcro

This is one of the few Tuscan towns that is fairly flat and easy to get around, but compeltely walled giving a sense of age-old security. It also has one of my favorite Italian restaurants within these walls that also has rooms, inclusive of a wonderful breakfast and that is the Ristorante Fiorentino and Laconda del Giglio . Run by a father and daughter team, Alessio and Alessia Uccellini this restaurant has been in the family for more than 50 years.

The architecture inside this Sancepolro Renaissance building is coffered ceilings, chandeliers, silver and starched white linen and the food is truly out of this world, and very reasonable, as are their rooms that are well appointed and quiet. Everytime we go to Sansepolcro we pop in to say hello and have yet another superb meal.

In fact, the Ristorante Fiorentino has become more than just another restaurant but a place of special milestones.

It was where we stayed when we signed the deeds to our farm in Valle Bona, and held a celebratory lunch with the agents, past owners and geometras of both parties. It was also where we stayed on our numerous visits back and forth when we checked up on the restoration of the farmhouse, as well as celebrating our eldest son's 21st birthday. We thoroughly recommend the Ristorante Fiorentino in Sansepolcro. We have never had a bad meal ever - and we have eaten here more times than I care to remember.

If you are looking for a wonderful selection of Tuscan products to take home with you, or perhaps to try while you are there, visit the Enogastronomia on Via Piccioli here you will find a treasure trove of truffles, porcini, cheeses and wines.

See our page on
Tuscany food recommending restaurants in Sansepolcro. These restaurants have been sanctioned by the Vetrina Toscana body as serving traditional food using traditional ingredients of high quality.

Map of the Sansepolcro Area

A regional map showing Sansepolcro
A map showing you where Sansepolcro is in relation to other towns. From Arezzo it takes about an 1hr to get Sansepolcro.

Weather Sansepolcro

An up-to-date weather for Sansepolcro

Getting to Sansepolcro

By Train:
Railway line: Rome-Milan stop in Arezzo and connecting bus to Sansepolcro.

By Car: Motorway A1 (Milan-Naples): exit Arezzo, locality Battifolle.
From SR 73 to continue Tiberina Arezzo to Sansepolcro.

From Rome: E 45 exit Sansepolcro Da Rimini: A 14 to Cesena, and 45 exit Sansepolcro

From Citta di Castello: E 45 exit Sansepolcro

From Urbino: SR 73 bis to Sansepolcro

By Air:
Airport "Galileo Galilei" - about 167 km from Arezzo

Airport "Amerigo Vespucci" - about 77 km from Arezzo

See our other pages on Italian Festivals