Monterchi is on the confluence of the Cerfone and Padonchia streams, both tributaries of the Tiber river. The name of the town comes from the latin Mons Herculis, probably referring to an ancient temple dedicated to the god Hercules already present in the area in Etruscan times. A legend narrates the origin of the town, directly founded by Hercules himself after defeating the Hydra.

The municipal territory develops in three different valleys (of the Tiber, of the Cerfone and of the Padonchia). The main town is near the Roman road that connected the ancient Arretium, now Arezzo, and Tifernum Tiberinum, now Città di Castello.

During the 7th century, Monterchi became a strategic outpost at the times of the wars against Byzantium. Around the 1000, the area was under the government of the Marchiones, or Marquises of Mount Santa Maria. In the Middle Ages, the fortified town developed on a hill, point of contention throughout the 3rd century between Arezzo and Città di Castello, then the Tarlati dominated Monterchi until 1440, year of the Battle of Anghiari between Florentines and Milaneses, after which the town was ruled by Florence. New city walls were built by the Florentines from 1560 and 1570.

In 1917, Monterchi was hit by a terrible earthquake that caused many damages to the artistic and the architectural heritages of the town. From 1927 to 1939 the border between Tuscany and Umbria was shifted and Monterchi became part of the latter, returning to Tuscany following some protests by the population.

From the Old gate, there is the entrance to the central Umberto I square, where the Town Hall and the Civic tower are placed; these mediaeval buildings were heavily damaged after the earthquake but they were restored. In the same square there is also Marzocchi palace, built in the 17th century. Next to the Town Hall there is the parish church of st. Simeone, documented since the 13th century, practically rebuilt after the earthquake of 1917. Out of the city centre there is the church of st. Benedetto with its female Benedictine monastery founded in the 10th century by st. Romualdo. The façade of this church was restored according to the neoclassical style in 1840.

Alongside the road that leads to Città di Castello, almost on the border with Umbria, there is the rural church of st. Antimo, then turned into a rural house in 1886. At first, during 5th and 6th century, in the area there was an early christian rural church that ruled over Monterchi, Citerna and Celle; it was then transferred uphill but at the end, Monterchi entered under the diocese of Sansepolcro with Celle and Citerna was placed into the diocese of Città di Castello.

The territory of Monterchi has many secrets to uncover: st. Michele Archaangel in Padonchia is from Langobard times, but it was restored many times, inside it there are many frescoes from the 15th and 16th centuries; also built by Lombards is the church of st. Michel Archangel in Pienezze, with a sculpture of the Piety from the 14th century in glazed terracotta. Through the valley of the Padonchia stream, there are the remains of the Elci Tower and the mysterious monolith called “Tina dell’Omo Salvatico”, maybe part of an ancient pagan altar that the legend links to a local myth.

Alongside the same road, but in the direction of Arezzo the sanctuary of Our Beautiful Lady (santuario della Madonna Bella) in Pocaia and, over it, the church of st. Biagio: the first from the 16th century whereas the second was built in the 13th century. The church of st. Apollinare on the Poggio, is from Byzantine times but it was restored according to the Romanesque style in the 13th century and inside it there is a “Madonna with child” from the church of st. Mary in Scandolaia, both made in the 13th century. This was the main religious building of the locality Le Ville, until the building of the church of Our Lady of Peace (Santa Maria della Pace) in 1967.

Monterchi is famous for the presence of the “Madonna del Parto” (Madonna of Parturition), fresco detached from the Chapel of st. Mary in Momentana, remembered since the 13th century. Masterpiece made by Piero della Francesca, it was painted between 1455 and 1465 honouring his mother who was born in Monterchi. The fresco is kept inside the Municipal Museum of the Madonna del Parto that once was an elementary school. Still, in Monterchi, inside the Massi palace, there is the Scales Museum, one of a kind in Europe.



Madonna del Parto by Piero della Francesca