Sansepolcro Tourist Attractions
SituationThe industrial and commercial town of Sansepolcro lies in the Upper Tiber Valley, 35km/22mi northeast of Arezzo.HistorySansepolcro (Holy Sepulchre) owes its name to two 10th century pilgrims named Arcano and Egidio who are said to have brought back from the Holy Land certain relics from Christ's tomb. An oratory was built to house the relics, and Camaldolese monks (Camáldoli) who were responsible for the care and service of the shrine built an abbey on the site. In later centuries the town frequently changed masters, but in the mid 15th century finally fell under the control of Florence. Pope Leo X (1513-21) made it the see of a bishop. Sansepolcro was the birthplace of the painter Piero della Francesca (c. 1416-92).
In Sansepolcro's main street, Via Matteotti, is the cathedral, dedicated to St John the Evangelist. It was the church of the Camaldolese Monastery (built between 1012 and 1049) but was subsequently much altered. The Romanesque facade has three doorways and a rose-window (a later addition). The aisled interior reflects the transition of Gothic, particularly in the polygonal apse. The church contains a number of works of art, including an "Ascension" from a drawing by Pérugino (1445-1523) and, in the presbytery, a terracotta tabernacle from the workshop of the della Robbias.
Palazzo delle Laudi
To the left of the cathedral is the Palazzo delle Laudi, built between 1591 and 1609 at the time of transition from Renaissance to Baroque; it has a fine arcaded courtyard and is now used by the municipal administration.
Municipal Art Gallery
Opposite the cathedral, also in Via Matteotti, is the old Palazzo Comunale, which now houses the Pinacoteca Comunale (Municipal Art Gallery), with some notable works of art. Of particular importance are the works by Piero della Francesca (c. 1416-92), one of the leading painters and theorists of the Italian Early Renaissance; note particularly his "Resurrection" and the Altar of the Madonna della Misericordia. The collection also includes paintings of the 14th-16th centuries, including works by Luca Signorelli and Santi di Tito (a native of Sansepolcro), and terracottas from the workshop of the della Robbias. The Pinacoteca also contains a library.
The Church of San Francesco stands in the square of the same name. Of the original 13th century church there remain the facade and the campanile; the rest of the structure was much altered in the Late Baroque period. The church has a Gothic high altar (1304).
This Médici stronghold was built on earlier foundations in the early 16th century, when Sansepolcro had long been Florentine. It may have been designed by Giuliano da Sangallo (1445-1516).