Painted landscapes and colours flooded with light. A balance of forms and perspectives that is fixed in immortal works. The homeland of the noble art of the crossbow and the flag throwing, Sansepolcro encloses the mythical and sacred dimension of its origins.
A cradle of Renaissance art and place of origin of Piero della Francesca, its territory has become full of universal masterpieces. Located at the crossroads between four regions in the exact centre of Italy, between the Alpe della Luna and Massa Trabaria, the soft hills of Umbria, the mountains of Arezzo and the Alpe di Catenaia, the city is a vast natural amphitheater that opens in Valtiberina.
According to an ancient legend two saintly pilgrims, Archangel and Egidio, settled in this valley on return from the Holy Land, driven by a divine sign. The sacred relics were kept in the little chapel built on the site, around which an old Benedictine abbey, nowadays a cathedral dedicated to St. John, was developed. In memory of this episode, the village that extends into the valley was called the Holy Sepulcher (hence the name Sansepolcro), named by the historians in the municipal annals as "the New Jerusalem."
Sansepolcro between the 14th and 16th centuries enjoyed a golden age under the Visconti, the lords of Milan, the noble Malatesta family in Rimini and Cosimo dei Medici in Florence. The traces of those century-rich trades, art and culture have been preserved in the historic centre, protected by a wall and surrounded by Bernardo Buontalenti's cannons and Giuliano da Sangallo's fortress.
Works of inestimable value, such as the frescoes that adorn the churches flanked by soaring bell towers (Santa Marta, Santa Maria delle Grazie, San Francis, San Rocco and Sant'Antonio Abate) or the carolingian wooden crucifix preserved in the Cathedral.
But the balance of the urban fabric is also given by the alternation of ancient medieval buildings surmounted by towers and elegant Renaissance palaces. Sansepolcro is not only Piero della Francesca, Pietro dal Borgo left his signature on works such as La Risurrezione and the Triptych of Mercy, both kept in the civic museum, but also Raffaellino from the Colle, Cristoforo Gherardi (known as Botine), Remigio and Marcantonio Cantagallina, painters of the Alberti family and Santi di Tito.
The name of "City of the Crossbow" comes from its oldest festival, the Palio della Balestra, (crossbow) celebrated in honour of the holy founder Egidio on the second Sunday of September.
September is the month of great appointments that highlight two important local traditions that combine craftsmanship and art: the Biennial of the Goldsmith's Art and the Biennial of the Lacework. During these days the village is characterised by the suggestive reenactments by the Renaissance association in the village and the Renaissance Convivio, a dinner of ancient dishes served in the cloister of St. Chiara.