In 1944, as the war front moved through the Tuscan Valtiberina, many would have tragic stories to tell: the retreating Germans, the displaced, entire stations of Carabinieri blown into the air, an internment camp. There was one exception, not perceived at the time, but discovered years later, heartened by the deep natural empathy for historical records that belongs to all humanity. An ally captain, Anthony Clarke, received orders to bomb the city of Sansepolcro, but he didn't. Why? An old essay he had read years back came up to his mind: the town holds a masterpiece of world art! Aldous Huxley wrote that "the greatest picture in the world" resides in Sansepolcro: The Resurrection by Piero della Francesca.
Piero della Francesca, a great painter, supreme theorist and Sansepolcro citizen and archer perhaps during the height of the city’s culture, was not a solitary genius. Renaissance Sansepolcro was a rich land with an educated bourgeoisie like that found in the most renowned capitals and therefore spent to decorate, enhance and beautify everything: churches, palaces, altars, bells and household furniture. This is the great wealth of Sansepolcro, a city with an incredible heritage, a living testimony of the Renaissance Arts.
The Renaissance is in the social fabric, where some events embody ancient atmospheres. The height is the Palio della Balestra, an archery competition with formidable crossbows held each year between the citizens of Biturgensi (Sansepolcro) and the people of Gubbio. Sansepolcro owes these riches to its impressive location, which, at the heart of many transit routes, including one alone the Tiber, was once defended by warriors citizens armed with crossbow. For thousands of years, this route along the Tiber was a privileged communication link with Rome. Is this why so many of Sansepolcro’s artists found it profitable to work there?
Time and time again, the Saint of Assisi went through what is today the Tuscan Valtiberina. These stories are not legends. In the Eremo di Montecasale, just above the town, he showed his spiritual qualities in welcoming the next. In Sansepolcro, he is remembered passing by mule. The veneration of the saint is deep in the city, which he passed to reach his beloved mountain "Auvergne", the Verna.