Clarke: the young captain who saved the 'Resurrection'Historical Curiosities
Clarke: the young captain who saved the 'Resurrection'
Today I'm in the mood to tell you a nice story. No ghosts this time! It's such a beautiful story that a movie could be made out of it. The plot would take place at the time of the Second World War and the main character would be a young captain of the British army. The story would also revolve around a book and a painting. And what does Tuscany have to do with all this? Rather a lot actually... In fact, the events take place in Sansepolcro, the delightful village in the province of Arezzo.
Do you want to hear the story? Here it is then. Anthony Clarke, a young captain of the English army, before enlisting had read a book by Aldous Huxley entitled 'Along the Road'. It was a sort of primitive travel guide that had been written in 1925 and that described, among other things, the arduous journey from Arezzo to Sansepolcro. The writer pointed out how the discomfort and fatigue were, however, rewarded by the vision of what Huxley considered 'the world’s most beautiful painting'. He referred to the 'Resurrection' by Piero della Francesca. Young Clarke was so impressed by those words in the book that when he found himself on a mission in Sansepolcro he spent a whole day contemplating the work by Piero della Francesca.
But he did much more than that for that painting, he even risked his own life and that of his companions. He lied to his superiors and declared that there were neither German troops nor important targets to go after in Sansepolcro and so there was no need to open fire. In reality, the retreating Germans were armed to the teeth and could have wreaked havoc. Why did not he tell his superiors about this? He simply did not want to damage the wonderful painting by Piero della Francesca. Had he not acted in this way, the 'Resurrection' would probably have been lost forever in the rubble.
It is thanks to the retrieval of Clarke's journals in 2015 that this story has come to light. After years of unconfirmed speculations, Sansepolcro has now proof of its English guardian angel and has even named a road to him. What a beautiful story! If you want to hear some more, book one of the tours in our 'unusual Florence' section: our guides will tell you many other stories: on past times, love ... but also fear!
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