A Side Trip to Castiglion Fiorentino

From Sansepolcro, it's a 15km (9-mile) jaunt across the border to Umbria. If you haven't finished with Tuscany, you can head back toward Arezzo, turning south on the SS71 to Castiglion Fiorentino, a fortified medieval town dominated by a pronglike tower, the Torre del Cassero.

The tourist office (tel. 0575-658-278; www.prolococastiglionfiorentino.it is at Piazza Risorgimento 19 next to a parking lot, near the 13th-century Porta Fiorentina.

From here the center of town is a short climb along Corso Italia to the Piazza del Municipio, bordered by the 16th-century Loggiato Vasariano, supposedly remodeled by Giorgio Vasari in the 1560s -- the views across the valley from here are sensational. Just above this at Via del Cassero 6 is the deconsecrated church of Sant'Angelo, now the entrance to the Pinacoteca Comunale, Piazza del Municipio 12 (tel. 0575-657-466; www.museicastiglionfiorentino.it). Its well-labeled collections include some medieval gilded copper crosses, a Taddeo Gaddi Madonna and Child, and an odd Bartolomeo della Gatta St. Francis Receiving the Stigmata. (Tradition holds the other friars nearby weren't awake when Francis was visited by the seraph, but here one clearly is.) The museum is open daily 10:30–1pm and 3:30–7pm (only until 6pm on Mondays and Tuesdays) Just around the corner at Via Tribunale 8 is the Palazzo Pretorio and the Museo Archeologico, a tiny collection of Etruscan remains found in the area (same hours and fees as the Pinacoteca). The palazzo borders the Area Monumental de Cassero (daily 8am-7pm; free admission), the remains of the 14th-century Perugian fortress that contains the Torre del Cassero. You can only climb the tower itself May to September, usually on holidays and the day before holidays from 10am to 1pm and 4 to 7pm.

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Also worth calling on is the somber Collegiata di San Giuliano (daily 8am-6pm; free admission), some 300m (984 ft.) below on Piazza San Giuliano, completed in 1853 on the site of a much older church (the bell tower actually dates from 1930). Inside is a Madonna Enthroned with Saints by Bartolomeo della Gatta on the third altar on the right, Lorenzo di Credi's Adoration of the Child in a chapel to the right of the high altar, and a huge Maestà by Segna di Bonaventura in the left transept. The Museo delle Pieve di San Giuliano next door (with the same hours and fees as Pinacoteca) preserves a Deposition by Signorelli's school.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.