An Italian Art Trail: Piero della Franscesca

by Maritravel

A unique chance for visitors to the regions of Tuscany, Umbria, Emilio-Romagna and Marche to follow the trail of the masterpieces of 15th century painter, Piero della Franscescaa.

Just outside the ancient walls of the little town of Sansepelcro in Italy is a street named after an Englishman, Captain Anthony Clarke, the man credited with saving Piero della Francesca’s famous painting The Resurrection, during the Second World War. Ordered to begin an assault on the town, Captain Clarke stalled for time. Although he had never seen the painting he remembered its description in a book by Aldous Huxley that he had read many years earlier, a book in which Huxley had described the work as “the greatest painting in the world”. His stalling for time enabled the masterpiece to be saved, an action for which the townspeople were and are eternally grateful..

Beautiful Italian Countryside
Beautiful Italian Countryside
Mari Nicholson

Sansepelcro and Piero della Francesca

Sansepelcro is now to feature in a new art route, the “Terre Di Piero”, which is being introduced by the Emilia-Romagna and the Tuscany Tourist Boards for visitors to the areas of Tuscany, Umbria, Emilia-Romagna and Marche, a route that will showcase the four regions that are home to Piero's greatest works and will pass through the landscapes that inspired the painter.  Sansepelcro was the painter’s birthplace, his remains lie in the Chapel of San Leonardo, and the town is home to the Piero della Francesca Foundation. 

A Village Scene
A Village Scene
Mari Nicholson

The Routes of the Terre di Piero

There are a range of routes for those who want to follow the Terre di Piero, starting in Rimini and the Montefeltro area: these take in Urbino in Marche, Sansepelcro, Monterchi and Arezzo in Tuscany, and Perugia in Umbria.   The Montefeltro area stretches from the Province of Rimini to the borders of Pesaro and Tuscany and here one can still see the landscapes that form the backround in some of della Francesca’s famous paintings, backgrounds that are virtually unchanged since his day.  Seven panoramas depicted in the works have been identified and as an aid to an appreciation of these works and in a stroke of sheer genius, the locations have been fitted out with special balconies containing pictures of the paintings for comparison with the reality in front of the viewer.   

As one follows the delineated art trail through some of Italy’s lovliest towns, the eye is ravished by glorious scenery, dazzled by castles, fortresses, monuments, historical sites and buildings constructed by traditional craftsmen.  And as the soul is fulfilled by the surrounding beauty, so the corporeal is satisfied with the food,specialties of the area, like Tuscan bean soup and the Casciotta di Urbino cheese which, paired with the delightful Chianti and Sangiovese wines of the region, make for a very satisfying meal.

Cheeses from the Region
Cheeses from the Region
Mari Nicholson
Cherries from Emilia-Romagna
Cherries from Emilia-Romagna
Mari Nicholson

Main Paintings Showcased along the way

The paintings showcased along the way are, in Rimini, Piero’s masterpiece in the Malatesta Temple, Praying Before Saint Sigismund; in the Marche National Gallery The Madonna of Senigallia and The Flagellation of Christ; and in Sansepelcro Municipal Museum the four great works The Resurrection, The Polyptych of the Misericordia, Saint Julian and Saint Louis are foundIn Monterchi art lovers can gaze on the Madonna del Parto in the museumm of the same name; in Arezzo the Legend of the True Cross is on display in the Basilico of San Franscisco and his Mary Magdalene is in the Cathedral; and The Polyptych of Saint Anthony is in the Umbria National Gallery in Perugia.

The Madonna del Parto in Monterchi has gained a considerable following over the years and is considered Piero's paean to motherhood.  Expectant mothers can enter the Madonna del Parto Museum free of charge which perhaps has led to the custom of letters and messages being left under the picture from petitioners to the Virgin Madonna.  

A Welcome with Chillies
A Welcome with Chillies
Mari Nicholson
If you hear music, chances are it will be provided by an Accordion
If you hear music, chances are it wil...
Mari Nicholson

2015 Exhibition in Reggio Emilia

From March to June 2015, Reggio Emilia will host an exhibition entitled Piero della Francesca: art and science in drawing in the Palazzo Magnani which will be one of the year’s most important exhibitions in Italy.  This will gather together around 100 works from Italian and international museums and private collections including the Portrait of Piero della Francesca by Santi di Tito and Saint Louis by della Francesca from Sansepelcro. 

To find out more, visit , an excellent website to help visitors to the region get the most out of their visit.  It offers not only videos about the paintings one can see along the way but information about the culture, the folklore, the food and wine and accommodation throughout the region.

Further information: 

[email protected]

Updated: 02/01/2015, Maritravel
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sandyspider on 01/15/2015

I felt like I just traveled there. The art of this country is beautiful.

Maritravel on 12/28/2014

How lucky you were to visit every summer. Do you still make the occasional trip? I love Italy but Emilia Romagna is probably my favourite part - after Sicily.

Digby_Adams on 12/27/2014

My mother's family comes from Finale Emilia. I used to spend part of every summer there. It is a beautiful country filled with art.

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