Yesterday we took our first day trip. The E45 highway runs down the middle of Italy from where we are to Perugia (2hrs) and then on to Rome (4 hrs). Perugia is a trip for another day but before you get there you hit Sansepolcro and from there it is a short hop to Arezzo. These were the destinations yesterday.
Has to be said the E45 is even worse than Polish roads. The toll paid Italian highways are great, the free ones are most definitely not. The E45 is not the easiest road to repair though as at least 70% of it is either tunnels or kilometers long bridges sweeping above the valleys and through the hills. Viewed from the side, as we had the opportunity to do after following a truck full of pigs for a 15km hill climbing diversion, you might actually think twice about using it at all. Pillars of concrete tower above the valley with precariously balanced road sections on the top, the gaps between them looking a little wider than you might like. When not diverted off the highway completely you are faced with never ending roadworks, lane closures and a surface so rough that it verges on dangerous. Stefano says it has been like this for 40 years!
The whole purpose of going to Sansepolcro was to see a painting, fresco to be precise, The Resurrection by Piero della Francesca, painted in 1465 and described by Aldous Huxley in 1925 as “the greatest picture in the world”. It is housed in the Museo Civico, which aside from The Resurrection and the Polyptych of the Misericordia had little else to offer. Oh, there was a temporary exhibition of amazingly ornate locks and keys from the 18th century that held the interest for about ten minutes.
The pictures show The Resurrection and another partly destroyed work, not the polyptych as this was being carefully dismantled by a few guys with axes and screwdrivers at the time.
Having read his essay on the subject, I think Huxley’s opinion was largely formed by the difficulties he had reaching Sansepolcro in the first place, which in 1925 was even more troublesome than the E45, so I’m not in agreement about it being the greatest painting in the world but it is definitely worth seeing if you’re anywhere near.
Just along the street from the Museo Civico is a herb museum that we also visited and would recommend. If you’re into herbs of all kinds, especially used medicinally, this place has a very comprehensive collection.
After a brief wander through the streets we headed off to Arezzo.
This is a much bigger town, population 100,000, and a wealthy regional capital in Tuscany. Getting up from the parking to the Piazza Grande was hard because the main street was full of interesting (for the girls) shops but after a delay to buy Zosia a whole new wardrobe in a shop full of spoiled teenagers we finally got there.
After a walk around we settled at a bar and just watched the dogs play and the world go by, bought a packet of good quality home-made pasta to take back to Poland and then headed home.