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Returning from Castel Focognano to Rassina and travelling once again on the road towards the north, you arrive at Bibbiena, a township which also belonged to the powerful Tarlati family in the Middle Ages and which, after various ownership changes, eventually passed to the dominion of Florence. You can see the 16th-century Palazzo of the Dovizi family into which Cardinal Bernardo Dovizi was born. A distinguished man of letters, he was known as “il Bibbiena”, and became the secretary to the Medici Pope Leo X and friend to the artist Raphael. Opposite this noble residence stands the 15th-century Chiesa di San Lorenzo which was restored during the second decade of the 20th century. The most important of the valuable works of art are terracottas by Andrea and Giovanni della Robbbia, as well as a small but beautiful cloister. Also worth looking at is the Chiesa dei Santi Ippolito e Donato, in ancient times the chapel of the Tarlati citadel. It dates back to the 12th century but was reconstructed in later years, above all in the 14th and 15th centuries.
With a single nave and trussed ceiling, the church possesses a 1435 Triptych on the high altar by Bicci di Lorenzo, a Madonna with Child and Angels by Arcangelo di Cola da Camerino, and a 14th-century painted Cross ascribed to the Maestro di San Polo in Rosso. In the environs of Bibbiena stands the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso, one of the loveliest examples of Renaissance architecture in the Casentino. Tradition has it that the Blessed Virgin appeared on a massive rock here, on a number of occasions, and subsequently a church was built on this rock. It was reconstructed between 1468 and 1507 by Giuliano da Maiano. Worth looking at is the Shrine with a della Robbia-style frieze, in which there is a fresco of the Madonna and Child with Two Angels by Bicci di Lorenzo, and a Nativity of the Blessed Virgin with Saints by Jacopo Ligozzi, signed and dated 1607. In the richly-decorated crypt, you can see a Madonna and Child between St Bartholomew and St Matthew from around 1536, by Giovann’Antonio Lappoli, one of Arezzo’s most important artists of the 16th century.

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