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In the land of Piero

Arezzo, Monterchi, Sansepolcro

Few works by Piero della Francesca have survived, and all of them are scattered around the world, although most are to be found in Italy. The largest nucleus of his works is found in Arezzo and in Valtiberina. In the capital, one can admire The Legend of the True Cross in the Basilica of St. Francis and Mary Magdalene in the Duomo; in the Valtiberina, in Sansepolcro, Piero’s hometown, visitors can see the Polyptych of Mercy, the Resurrection, St. Julian and St. Louis of Toulouse in the Museo Civico (it is the museum with the most works by Piero in the world: no other museum has more than three); a few kilometres away, in Monterchi, the Madonna del Parto (Madonna of Parturition) is exhibited in the museum dedicated to her.

Piero della Francesca

Piero di Benedetto de’ Franceschi, known as Piero della Francesca, was one of the most important and influential painters and mathematicians of the Italian Renaissance.
Philosophical, theological and political themes converged in his complex paintings. Tradition and modernity, spirituality and new values of humanism, painting and geometry harmonised in a way that still surprises and fascinates anyone who delves into his figure. Piero’s work has been recognised as the ideal hinge between Brunelleschi’s rigorous research into perspective, Masaccio’s plasticity, Beato Angelico’s and Domenico Veneziano’s rendering of light and the descriptive capacity of the Flemish painters.

Tradition and Modernity

The greatest work by Piero della Francesca, one of the most important masterpieces of the Renaissance. This is one of the most refined fresco cycles of the 15th century, with essays of virtuosity, such as the luminism of the Dream of Constantine, among the first nocturnes in the history of Italian art, or the battle scenes described with intense actions and eloquent gestures.

Basilica of St. Francis, Arezzo

Religiousness and Humanism

This is the museum with the most works by Piero in the world; no other museum has more than three. The Polyptych of Mercy is the first work we have documentation of, the commission dates back to 1445. The other paintings are the Resurrection, a wall painting carried out between 1450 and 1463, probably at the same time as the frescoes of the Legend of the True Cross, the Saint Julian and the Saint Louis of Toulouse.
Civic Museum, Sansepolcro

This fresco by Piero della Francesca, datable to around 1455-1465, is kept in the specially arranged museum in Monterchi. The work, whose commissioner is unknown, was painted in the Church of Santa Maria di Momentana or in Silvis, on the slopes of the hill known as Montione (Mons Iunonis), a place known since antiquity and linked to pagan fertility cults.
Madonna del Parto Museum, Monterchi

Between Arezzo, Perugia and Urbino

Starting from Arezzo, from the city’s Cathedral with its painting of Mary Magdalene and a visit to Piero’s frescoes in the Basilica of San Francesco, you can follow an itinerary to discover his most important works through some of the surrounding territories. The first stop is Perugia, where the Polyptych of Saint Anthony is kept in the National Gallery of Umbria. From Perugia, travelling north along the Tiber valley, in Monterchi we find the Madonna del Parto and then on to Sansepolcro at the Civic Museum, where we can admire the Polyptych of Mercy and the Resurrection. From Sansepolcro via Bocca Trabaria we reach Urbino where two fundamental works are on display: the Madonna of Senigallia and above all the Flagellation, both at the National Gallery of the Marches.

Perspective Drawing and Regular Solids

Piero della Francesca was one of the artists most attracted to the mathematical and geometric laws that regulate space, as they were considered fundamental to solving one of the most long-standing issues in painting: the representation of three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional support. To this end he wrote four treatises, including the fundamental De prospectiva pingendi, dedicated to scientific perspective and the De quinque corporibus regolaribus entirely dedicated to the five regular solids.

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Other suggested routes

Valdarno and the Pratomagno massif

The Upper Valdarno is a wide natural basin over which the Arno River flows, closed to the northeast by the Pratomagno massif and bordered to the southwest by the Chianti Mountains. The landscape is very diverse: alpine and solitary on the high slopes of Pratomagno; rugged by picturesque clay erosion in the Balze area, at the foot of the same ridge.

Valdichiana and Etruscans routes

The valley is formed by a fertile plain, born from the reclamation of an ancient marshy area, and by gentle hills that surround it, on which there are splendid towns and ancient villages. Today, these villages, which have remained almost intact, represent a priceless heritage of art, history and beauty.