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Pauline

Tuscany The Piero della Francesca Trail

Piero della Francesca was an Early Renaissance painter from Sansepolcro (1415 - 1492). The Piero della Francesca Trail takes you on a driving trip across north-east Tuscany and into Le Marche to see three frescoes and one small painting. This trail lets you see his artwork in the places where they were painted and where he lived.

The trail starts with his best known work, The Legend of the True Cross fresco cycle in Arezzo, and goes on to smaller frescoes in Monterchi (The Pregnant Madonna) and Sansepulcro (The Resurrection), ending with a painting in Urbino (The Flagellation). The first three towns are close together and easily done in one day but it is a bit of a drive to get to the last stop in Urbino.

The novel "Summer's Lease" by John Mortimer (1988), where the main character follows the Piero della Francesca Trail, brought the trail to the attention of Italy lovers. Frances Mayes also writes about it in "Bella Tuscany".

Piero della Francesca was a mathematician and he brings that to his art with his use of geometric forms and perspective. Much of his work is lost or has been moved to larger museums. His double portrait of Federico and his wife Battista Sforza, painted in Urbino, is now in the Uffizi in Florence.

We did this trail in the late 1990s and it was a highlight of our trip.

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The Pregnant Madonna by Piero della Francesca in Monterchi
Photo © Edisonblus


"The villa will appeal in particular to devotees of Italian painting. It makes a perfect center for the study of the Sienese school. More importantly, perhaps, the work of Piero della Francesca can be followed from the frescoes in Arezzo to the pregnant Madonna in the small chapel at Monterchi. Enthusiasts can take the trail to Sansepulcro and on, across the Mountains of the Moon, to see the sublime "Flagellation" in the Ducal Palace at Urbino, undoubtedly the greatest small picture in the world. Those making this journey should ensure that the stopcock is closed and all electrical appliances switched off before departure. The pleasures of art tend to be diminished by returning to a complete absence of hot bath water."
- - Summer's Lease by John Mortimer, 1988 - -
The Piero della Francesca Trail Towns

Arezzo
(Tuscany) - The Legend of the True Cross fresco series in the Bacci Chapel of the Basilica di San Francesco in the town center.
This fresco was hidden from view during much of the 1990s for restoration. The chapel was decorated by Piero della Francesca between 1453 and 1466 for the wealthy Bacci family.
Location: Bacci Chapel in the Basilica di San Francesco, Piazza San Francesco (Via Guido Monaco, 11, 52100)
Hours: Check opening hours on their website. You may have to reserve ahead.
Website: www.pierodellafrancesca-ticketoffice.it/en/
Parking: Arezzo is a larger town and has big parking lots at the edge of the historical center.

Monterchi (Tuscany) - The Pregnant Madonna fresco (Madonna del Parto).
Originally in the town church, it was moved and restored and is displayed in a building on the edge of town.
Location: Museo Madonna del Parto, Via della Reglia 1, on the SS221, west of Monterchi
Hours: Check opening hours on their website.
Website: www.madonnadelparto.it
Parking: Nearby

Sansepolcro (Tuscany) - The Resurrection fresco in the museum in the town center (Museo Civico).
In 1925 Aldous Huxley called it "the greatest picture in the world." Piero della Francesca was from Sansepolcro.
Location: Museo Civico in the town center
Hours: Check opening hours on their website.
Website: www.museocivicosansepolcro.it
Parking: Nearby

Urbino (Le Marche) - The Flagellation, a painting in the museum in the Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale).
Location: National Gallery of Marche (Galleria Nazionale delle Marche) in the Ducal Palace (Palazzo Ducale)
Hours: Check opening hours on their website.
Website: www.palazzoducaleurbino.it
Parking: Park outside the town walls and take the elevator to the town center (or walk up a very steep road)

Map

Photos

sansepolcro-resurrection.jpg

The Resurrection by Piero della Francesca in Sansepolcro
Photo © Piero della Francesca [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


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The Flagellation by Piero della Francesca in Urbino

piero-della-francesca-trail-0047.jpg

The Flagellation by Piero della Francesca in Urbino
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