“Old World Charm” aptly describes Sansepolcro, located in the fertile plains of the upper Tiber Valley of Italy’s romantic Tuscany region. The town was supposedly founded in the 10th century by two pilgrims who returned from the Holy Land with a small piece of the Holy Sepulcre. They built an Oratory to house the relic, making Sansepolcro a spiritual site. The “Porto della Pieve” is the only remaining portion of the town walls that were constructed in 1500. Although the birthplace of famous Italian artists Piero della Francesca and Raffaelino del Colle is primarily renowned for its art works and historic architecture, visitors are equally enthralled by Sansepolcro’s captivating ambience and welcoming people.

Casa Buitoni, Sansepolcro, Tuscany, ItalyThe Civic Museum of Sansepolcro houses the work of many Italian artists, highlighting four of Piero della Francesca’s most important works, including, “Resurrection,” which English author Aldous Huxley called the “greatest painting in the world.” The museum itself is an extremely interesting 14th-century building.

The Cathedral of Sansepolcro (the Duomo) has been reconstructed to appear as it did in the 1300s. It features three naves supported by Romanesque columns which provide the perfect showcase for its many exquisite works of art, including a beautifully restored wooden Crucifix created from a single log of the walnut trees that dot the surrounding countryside. Other architecturally interesting historical buildings include a 14th-century fortress, the bishop’s palace, and an old Butoni pasta factory. Italy’s first pasta factory was built in Sansepolcro in 1827 when Giula Buitoni founded Butoni Pasta.

Two other sites of interest are the Aboca Museum that highlight man’s relationship with herbs and the ancient tradition of medicinal herbs, and a fully restored 200-year-old farmhouse that sits in the hills above Sensepolcro. The farmhouse boasts pianelle floors, a working stone fireplace, beamed ceilings, inviting terraces, a private chapel and a functioning walk-in bread/pizza oven. It is adjacent to a shrine once visited by St. Thomas of Assassi.

On the second Sunday of September Sansepolcro hosts the historical crossbow tournament, “Palio della Balestra.” The competition between crossbow archers from Sansepolcro and the neighboring town of Gubbio dates back to 1619 and is one of the town’s most cherished traditions. Residents dress in medieval costumes inspired by those seen in the Renaissance paintings of Piero della Francesca. The tournament religiously adheres to the event’s ancient customs, beginning with the Herald’s proclamation of the challenge against the opponents, followed by a flag-throwing exercise, blessing of the crossbows, and a parade into the main square where the archers have the opportunity to show off the crossbow skills they have been honing all year.

Sansepolcro offers a variety of accommodations that exceed expectations for a town with a population of only 16,198. There are several top-rated hotels as well as numerous B&Bs noted for their hospitality and charm. In addition, the town has about 15 restaurants featuring the excellent local cuisine and visitors will enjoy shopping in the market for local arts/crafts such as the exquisite embroidery work Tuscany is famous for.


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