Month: January 2016

Saint Sulpice – Paris

While in Paris last year, we revisited the church of St Sulpice, where you can see the gnomon that appears in Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code. The gnomon is like a very specialised sundial which shows the elevation of the sun at about noon each day. In the novel, the line across the floor of the church was placed there to help reveal the secret location of the Holy Grail.

St Sulpice Gnomon


Luca Pacioli – Sansepolcro

Luca Pacioli, another famous mathematician and writer, was also born in Sansepolcro. He was a friend of Piero della Francesca, and used some of Piero’s ideas in a geometry book that he wrote called De Divina Proportione. Another friend, the famous Leonardo da Vinci, illustrated the book.

Luca Pacioli is most famous for his book of arithmetic and geometry that he wrote for students in schools in northern Italy. The book  contains the first published account of double entry bookkeeping as used by Venetian merchants in the 15th century, which led Pacioli to be known as the Father of Accounting.

Luca Pacioli was born in Sansepolcro in 1447 and died there in 1517. The town remembers him with a statue, erected for the 500th anniversary of his birth.

Luca Pacioli San Sepolcro

Piero della Francesca – Sansepolcro

Sansepolcro is a smallish town hidden away in the southeast corner of Tuscany. The easiest way to visit this interesting place is by train from Perugia, although there is also a bus from Arezzo.

Piero della Francesca (see previous post) was born and died in Sansepolcro and some of his paintings are on display in the civic museum. The town is also the birthplace of Matteo Cioni, who translated into Latin Piero della Francesca’s treatise on perspective.

In Sansepolcro there is a small park named after Piero della Francesca and a larger than life statue of him at the entrance.

Piero della Francesca San Sepolcro

Piero della Francesca – Arezzo

In his book, “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, Giorgio Vasari (see previous post) mentions the work of Piero della Francesca. A painter of the early Renaissance period, Piero della Francesca was also an accomplished mathematician, publishing several texts on geometry and perspective. His most famous work of art is a cycle of frescoes titled “The History of the True Cross” in the church of San Francesco in Arezzo.

Piero della Francesca Arezzo

Giorgio Vasari – Arezzo

Born in Arezzo in 1511, Giorgio Vasari, like his friend Michelangelo, was a true Renaissance man. He was an accomplished artist and also an important architect, designing the Uffizi Palace in Florence, and the Vasari Corrido which connects it to the Pitti Palace on the other side of the Arno.

But Vasari’s main claim to fame is as a writer. His book, “The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, was published in 1550 and is still in print today. Vasari was the first to use the term “Renaissance” to describe the changes in art, politics and science which began in 14th century Florence, and he is sometimes now called “the first art historian”.

The Casa Vasari in Arezzo, where Vasari lived from 1540, is now an interesting museum. The mediaeval abbey (Badia) church of Saints Flora and Lucia in Arezzo was rebuilt from 1565 to a design by Vasari.

Badia Arezzo


Guido d’Arezzo – Talla

The tiny Italian town of Talla claims to be the birthplace of Guido d’Arezzo, the 11th century musical scholar who invented modern musical notation. That’s despite the fact that most experts have his birthplace as near Paris or in Arezzo.

According to ancient tradition and Talla residents, Guido was born in a building next to the church which is on a hillside overlooking the village. A museum of music – Il Museo della Musica “Guido d’Arezzo” has been established in the building.

Talla can be reached by bus from Rassina which is a stop on the private railway (LFI) connecting Arezzo with towns to the north.

Talla View