The town of Sansepolcro is in the province of Arezzo, at the border with the Umbria region. It was the homeland of the famous painter Piero della Francesca, whose house still exists. Sansepolcro has the architectural beauties of the Palazzo delle Laudi, of the Fortezza Medicea and of the Romanesque Cathedral.
The origins of the city, that has a population of about 15000 inhabitants, are lost in the myth. The legend narrates that Saint Arcano and Saint Egidio, two pilgrims on their way from the Holy Land, stopped in this place driven by a prodigious divine sign. Therefore, they built a chapel here, where they put some sacred relics recovered in Jerusalem. According to the tradition, the medieval village developed around the sacred building in the following years.
What partially confirms this, is that many medieval historians cited Sansepolcro with the name of "Novella Gerusalemme". What is certain, instead, is that in the Early Middle Ages the area was a feud of the Camaldolese monks, namely an order founded by St. Romuald around the year 1000. In 1163, yet, Sansepolcro had already become a free city-state starting a centuries-long fight to keep its autonomy against the pressure exercised on it by Arezzo, Perugia and Città di Castello.
The time of the great battles between Guelfs and Ghibellines involved Sansepolcro, too. The abbots of Sansepolcro abandoned the town in the XIII century. They contended for the control of the territory belonging to Pieve Santo Stefano with the Bishopric of Arezzo and with the Guelf parties of Florence and Perugia. During the centuries, numerous aristocratic Ghibelline families followed one another in ruling this town: first, there was the leader Uguccione della Faggiola, then the Tarlati family, who had ties with the curia of Arezzo, and, finally, the Malatesta family.
In the first half of the XV century, the State of the Church established its power in the town, too. Yet, Sansepolcro had already been destined to fall in the hands of Florence. After giving refuge and a safe basis to the Visconti's troops of Niccolò Piccinino, Florence conquered Sansepolcro after its victory in the battle of Anghiari. It was 1441, and from this year on, Sansepolcro linked its history to the Florentine Republic, first, and to the Tuscan Grand Duchy, after.
Sansepolcro, that the Medicean Pope Leone X had raised to the rank of Episcopal see in 1520, reached the acme of its economic splendour in the XVI century. At that time, this town acquired most of its architectural heritage, from the gunner of Buontalenti to the fortress built by Giuliano Sangallo. Going through the same events lived by the Grand Duchy under the Lorrains, Sansepolcro experienced the Napoleonic occupation at the end of the XVIII century, the Restoration of 1815 and, eventually, the Unity of Italy in 1860.