The Upper Tiber Valley, also known as the Valtiberina, occupies the easternmost part of Tuscany, in the province of Arezzo, and also includes the province of Perugia. It is a spectacular area, with rolling hills, oak, beech and chestnut woods, and the Apennine peaks in the background. This is the setting for hermitages that still bear the signs of the passage of Saints Bartholomew and Francis, splendid medieval villages and castles: don't forget that throughout history the Valtiberina has been the subject of fierce disputes involving the Montefeltro, the Lords of Rimini, the Florentines, the Bishops of Arezzo and the Papacy.
Trip to Tuscany
To discover the beauties of the Valtiberina Toscana during the summer of 2021, one cannot but start from the birthplace of Piero della Francesca, Sansepolcro: considered one of the most enchanting villages in Tuscany in Italy, it rises at the foot of the Alpe della Luna and is surrounded by 16th century walls commissioned by the Medici.
The symbol of Sansepolcro is the Palazzo della Residenza, which houses the beautiful polyptych of the Misericordia by Piero della Francesca, consisting of 23 finely painted panels: there are also other works by the same artist, but also by Pontormo and Andrea Della Robbia.
Sansepolcro is also home to the not-to-be-missed Aboca Museum, where visitors will be catapulted into the world of herbalism: the herb room, the glass room with its alembics and ampoules, the mortar room, the ancient 19th-century pharmacy and the Poison Cell are all interesting.
If you want to get to know Sansepolcro at your leisure, you can stay at the Borgo Palace Hotel: this elegant 4-star hotel is located just over 1 km from the centre of the town and offers rooms with every service and comfort, as well as conference rooms equipped for important business meetings.
Just 9 km from Sansepolcro stands Anghiari, a beautiful village surrounded by 13th-century walls from which the view sweeps over the plain where the famous Battle of Anghiari took place in 1440 between the Visconti of Milan and Florence. The Battle Museum in Palazzo del Marzocco is dedicated to this epic battle, with a model reproducing the respective sides and copies of the frescoes on the theme painted by Leonardo da Vinci in the Sala dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, now lost.
Strolling through the cobbled streets of Anghiari, among stone houses with terracotta roofs and picturesque buttresses set between the buildings, you will also come across the Museum of Palazzo Taglieschi: among the most valuable exhibits are the Madonna Annunciata by Jacopo della Quercia and the glazed terracottas by Della Robbia.
Among the villages in Valtiberina worth visiting is Monterchi, founded, according to legend, by the brave Hercules after killing the Hydra of Lerna: the village stands on top of a hill 350 metres above sea level, with a spectacular view over the entire Upper Tiber Valley.
In the Civic Museum of Monterchi there is the real jewel of the village, the Madonna del Parto painted by Piero della Francesca in 1459, one of the things to see in Tuscany: this painting enchants anyone who finds it in front of them, thanks to its perspective, the colours used with mastery and its strong symbolism. It used to be in the Chapel of Santa Maria Momentana and was venerated by pregnant women.
The Museum of Scales in Monterchi, one of the most important of its kind in Europe, is also very interesting, with stadia, weights and, above all, scales of all materials and shapes.
Diversions to the Umbrian Valtiberina
Città di Castello is one of the most beautiful towns in the Valtiberina, even though it is not located in Tuscany but right on the doorstep of Umbria. It is distinguished by its elegant Renaissance style, to which the Vanvitelli family made an important contribution. Strolling through Città di Castello you will come across elegant buildings such as Palazzo Albizzini, dating back to the 15th century and home to a Foundation dedicated to the works of Alberto Burri, the 14th-century Palazzo del Podestà and Palazzo Vanvitelli.
Palazzo Del Podestà
The latter, in particular, stands on the remains of a cannon depot, and on its elegant façade you can admire a splendid graffito designed by Vasari. It houses the Pinacoteca Comunale, where paintings by Signorelli, frescoes by Gherardi and Raphael's beautiful Stendardo della Santissima Trinità are on display.
Also worth a visit is the Museo del Duomo, adjacent to the 15th-century Cathedral of Saints Florido and Amanzio, whose 11th-century cylindrical tower stands out: the Museum houses the very ancient early-Christian Treasure, the Risen Christ by Rosso Fiorentino and the Madonna by Pinturicchio.
Cattedrale dei santi Florido e Amanzio
Before leaving Città di Castello, we recommend a visit to the Tartufi Bianconi company to learn about the history of truffles in the Valtiberina: there is also a small themed museum, whose most precious exhibit is a page dedicated to the truffle, part of a 16th-century herbarium.
On the road to Citerna, there is Lacole Casa Italiana, a reference point for all antique dealers and enthusiasts: the objects, from fountains and mirrors to porcelain and furniture, are set in skilfully reconstructed rooms reminiscent of the oldest homes in Italy.
The final stop on a tour of the Valtiberina is Citerna, a picturesque medieval village that has kept intact its city walls and walkways with views over the entire valley. The village, located at the foot of the Acropolis of Lombard origin, contains many works of art, including Donatello's Madonna and Child in the Church of San Francesco and the Vesperbild, a 14th-century icon depicting the Pietà in the Monastery of Santa Elisabetta. Don't miss a visit to the Church of San Michele Arcangelo to admire the Crucifixion by Pomarancio and the Virgin and Child by Della Robbia.
If you want to get to know Citerna's food and wine heritage, you can stop off at the Azienda Agricola Bistarelli: in a typical 18th-century farmhouse you can sip a glass of Vinsanto, accompanied by typical local sweets called torcoli.