Sansepolcro in the Arezzo province of
Tuscany is home to medieval pageants and archery festivals, and Pierro
Francesca, born in the 15th century, whose works are visible
many of the churches and the
town's museum, Museo Civico, and the home to Luca Pacioli an Italian
It is also the most important town in the Tuscan Upper
Famous Paintings in Sansepolcro
Misericordia The Resurrection
Sansepolcro is not a place where people generally flock, as it is not
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
Both these paintings can be viewed in the Museo Civico on Via
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
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,
down from the Cross) by Rosso Fiorentino.
Museums in Sancepolcro
There are several museums in this walled town, there is a lace
del Merletto, and an antique glass museum called the Museo della
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.
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
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
della Balestra di Sansepolcro.
Festivals in Sansepolcro
The Crossbow Competition in Sansepolcro
The crossbow competition called the Palio
Balestra takes place on the second Sunday of
between Sansepolcro and
Gubbio has been documented as taking place since the beginning of the
sixteenth century, but there are historical sources that
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
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
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
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
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 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.
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
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 map showing you where
Sansepolcro is in relation to other towns. From Arezzo it takes about
an 1hr to get Sansepolcro.