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A relaxed Autumn Sunday in Sansepolcro with the Best Picture in the World and a stroll through the old town to discover a good lunch spot


An Autumn Sunday in Sansepolcro

(October 2003, with a return visit in November 2007)


Sansepolcro is a small, flat, walled town at the foot of the Apennines in the far East of Tuscany (east of Arezzo), and the centre of the Upper Tiber valley.  There is lots of free parking near to various parts of the wall, and the entire town is easily and pleasantly walkable.  In the nine hundreds two pilgrim pillager / entrepreneur / souvenir hunters arrived here with relics of the Holy Sepulchre (Santo Sepolcro) - hence the name - but it's mainly known for its most famous son


Piero della Francesca (c1416 - 1492 (76))


who was born and died here, and in between went to Florence, Urbino and the other great Renaissance centres and became a master painter - especially of perspective, intellectual concepts and symbolism, and beautiful Madonnas.  Sadly it seems that he spent the last decade or more of his life blind.


Link to Aldous Huxley's Essay: "The Best Picture in the World"





A beautifully produced little themed Tuscan travel guide, including an essay by Aldous Huxley who travelled over the mountains from Urbino to Sansepolcro in a bus in the 1920s to see "the best picture in the world"


 Buy from Amazon USA

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Link to Aldous Huxley's  essay "The Best Picture in the World"





The Piero della Francesca Trail


Revisiting Sansepolcro, Monterchi and Arezzo - November 2007


 An Autumn Sunday in Sansepolcro - October 2003 (with restaurants) (this page)


Chronology Entry


Sunset and other photos of  the Palazzo Ducale, Urbino



The Franciscan Church opposite Piero's house



Piero's house, seen from the park behind the Franciscan church

Looking up and down the via Matteotti, the main "civic drag" of Sansepolcro.  On the left is the old town hall (now the Pinacotecca Communale).  The steps on the left lead to a large window looking down into the main meeting room and across to Piero's masterwork - The Reserruction (1468) - and the good citizens could therefore stroll past at any stage to inspect their investment (that was apart from the time that someone covered it with a thick layer of plaster)........


The Resurrection (Sansepolcro - Pinacotecca Comunale)

"The Best Picture in the World"


Apart from the deliberately distorted perspective effects, note the symbolism of the fact that the landscape on the viewer's left is desolate, and that on the right is teeming with life and greenery.  This will be clearer when and if the restorers get hold of the fresco and undo the effect of previous egg based restoration work.  The sleeping hatless soldier with Mr Universe body, facing the viewer on the left, is probably a self portrait of Piero.


Above: Two Piero frescoed saints - San Ludovico da Tolosa (painted c1460) on the left and Guiliano (Saint Julian) on the right.  Both larger than life Frescos were previously in churches in Sansepolcro.


Left:  A magnificent ceramic Nativity over ten feet high produced by the della Robbia workshops for a Sansepolcro church.


All three works are in the Pinacotecca Communale, Sansepolcro.


Link to more of Piero's works


The Madonna of Mercy (Madonna di Misericordia) Poliptych, also over ten feet high - Piero's "first picture" (1445-62), and before he had broken free of the symbolism of the previous century.


The Sansepolcro Duomo (di San Giovanni Evengelista) was built in the twelve hundreds as a development of a Benedictine Abbey built two hundred years earlier between 1012 and 1049.  In a side chapel ("Volto Santo") you will find this very unusual larger than life figure - origin unknown but almost certainly from the middle east and made a lot earlier.






(with thanks to William Russell for providing some helpful suggestions)





Ristorante il Convivio


Via Trasversari is more or less across the road from the Piero viewing platform outside the Pinacotecca.  The il Convivio is in vaulted cellars a short way down the street (next to the Oratorio della Compagnia del Crocifisso).  It offers elegant surroundings and excellent stylishly served Tuscan food.


Tel: 0575 736543  Closed Tuesdays



Ristorante Fiorentino


The Pinacotecca Communale closes for lunch at one, the town's streets are deserted, but the Ristorante Fiorentino is packed out with Italians enjoying winter Sunday Lunch.  The restaurant is a short walk down the other main drag - the via XX Settembre from the Piazza Torre di Berta (which used to stand proudly in the middle of the Piazza, but sadly became a casualty of WW II) towards the Porta Fiorentina.  It has belonged to the same family for over fifty years, and has a very friendly atmosphere (and good food of course).  The dolci trolley (unusually for our team) proved irresistible - especially a light tiramisu which sort of slid into all the right taste spots.  The service is reportedly a bit frayed sometimes and there are often a lot of tourists in the warmer months. 


via Luca Pacioli, 60 / via XX Settembre

0575 742 033







Trattoria Taverna Toscana


The Taverna Toscana is a popular Italian working lunch trat just down the road (above) at number 50A.  Large servings, carafe of OK red, lots of bustle, no English spoken, good fun and very good value.



Da Beppino


Da Beppino is the Pizzeria and Ristorante of the Albergo Orfeo in Via A.Diaz (just beyond the Porta Fiorentina).  A popular place, lots of Italians, large outdoor area spills into the (closed) street in summer, great pizzas, magnificent antipasto and "the best panna cotta in town" - all server by "georgeous and efficient waitresses".


0575 742287   Closed Mondays



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