Sansepolcro. And you know what? It ended up being a delicious, scenic, surprise.
Sansepolcro traces its history back to right around the year 1000, when two fellas named Arcano and Egidio came back from a pilgrimage to the holy land with a fragment of Christ’s tomb and thought this area was the right spot (I can understand it, too, because it is lovely, just on the Tuscany side of the upper Tiber valley) to stop and build a shrine to hold the relic. Important relics draw people, naturally, like good restaurants (maybe even more fanatically), so the town soon grew, and grew into more than just the shrine as its position near the Tuscan, Umbrian, and Le Marche borders, and on the route between Florence and Rome and between the Adriatic and the Mediterranean, made it a hot trading spot. It also was a key place for the plant “woad,” used to create dyes, specifically a shade of blue beloved by Renaissance fashionistas. As Sansepolcro is just over the border into Tuscany, none of our Umbrian guidebooks had any info on the town, so we just wandered into the old town. Funny enough (considering Sansepolcro’s history with plants—at least with woad) our first random stop was the Aboca Museum, which may be the only herb museum in the world. Situated in an old palace of the Bourbon del Montes (you’ll remember them from MSMT), the herb museum is a fragrant treasure trove, with rooms dedicated to mortars, glass, pottery, history, an old apothecary, an old pharmacy, and more, with dried herbs in every corner of every room, including favorites such as mint:
Ristorante Fiorentino (which is in a pretty hotel). It was all a’bustle, packed with a tour bus of about 50, and another large table (more on this table in a sec). They tucked us into a two top though, without a hitch, and soon we were starting with two delicious choices (oh, by the way, we were running low on camera batteries, so had to do duo food pics): Insalata di Arancia con Finocchio e Sedeno and Melagrana (or oranges, fennel, celery, and pomegranate) and Tortino di Riso Nero con Fonduta e Tartufo Nero:
Pietro della Francesca. An artist in the 1400s, Pietro has a number of famous pictures, but perhaps the most famous (the other choice is in Monterchi, a nearby town we haven’t visited yet) is here, The Resurrection. Showing a very in charge Christ being resurrected out of his grave over a couple of knocked out soldiers, the picture is a remarkably imposing work, a figure controlling his destiny as the artist controls his canvas:
Now, during our visit to the museum, we heard some drumming outside. Earlier, we saw some young Sensepulcro-an gentlemen walking around in brightly-colored (think pink and grey, silver and orange) tights and Renaissance-y outfits. Figuring the drumming had something to do with these medieval new-wavers, we slipped out of the attic area of the museum onto a deck, where we had a view of the colorful lads playing trumpets and drums and doing flag gymnastics in big: