Anghiari’s walls are one of its special characteristics, together with the “Croce”, the straight road that divides the valley into two. The walls that can be seen today are the result of a number of renovations in the 15th and 16th century, which were carried out to adapt the town's defences to the use of gunpowder: the walls were made larger at the base and featured bastions designed for enfilade or flanking fire, such as the Bastione del Vicario. There are three access gates to the fortified town: Porta San Martino and Porta Nuova, both of which had drawbridges, and Porta Sant’Angelo.
Il Bastione del Vicario
This was the last part of Anghiari’s walls to be built. Completed by the Vicario Filippo Spina in 1571, its name comes from the fact that the access to the town was inside the Palazzo del Vicario, today Palazzo Pretorio. According to historical chronicles, this bastion was designed by Girolamo Magi, an engineer from Anghiari who worked with the Venetians in Cyprus on the fortifications of Nicosia and Famagusta, where he was then imprisoned by the Turks. He died in prison in Constantinople in 1572. Inside the rampart it is still possible to see the old embrasures.
The gate of the "catorcio" – Porta San Martino
Today this gateway overlooks an elevated street, but in the past it featured a drawbridge to pass the moat. This is why it is also called Porta del Fosso (“moat gate”). In a space on one side of the gateway, which in the past would have been used as a urinal, there is an arrow slit from the old walls. There is also the bell used to announce the beginning and the end of the market, which has taken place every Wednesday in Piazza Baldaccio since 1388. The tower dominating this access gate contributed to the defences of the town. On the 29th of June 1450, during the annual fair of Saints Peter and Paul (or Palio della Vittoria), some people from Borgo San Sepolcro stole the lock (“catorcio”) from this gate. The lock is now exhibited in the Anghiari historical Museum, “Palazzo della Battaglia”.
Porta di sotto – Porta Nuova
This gate, which bears an incomplete coat of arms of the Medici, was the last to be built in the fortified walls of Anghiari. Dating back to 1460, this gate was erected by re-using stones from the castle of Valialle. Thanks to this gate the quarter called Borghetto could have an easier access to the three main squares of Anghiari, i.e. Piazza del Popolo, Piazza Mameli and Piazza Baldaccio. When the gateway lost its military function its side columns were modified, as were the others in the town, in order to facilitate the transit of carts.
The inner of the two gateways is the earliest surviving part of the older fortifications, while the outer one is a 15th-16th century extension, the period in which the whole defence system of Anghiari’s walls was reinforced. The picturesque group of houses beyond the outer gate is a 15th century extension, too.
Via di Ronda - the old walkway along the walls
This is the old walkway, a part of which was covered when the church of Sant’Agostino was expanded in the 15th century by the building of a tower apse, which is a prominent feature of the town walls. Also visible are the corner stones of the 13th century church dedicated to St Anthony the Abbot, upon which the church dedicated to St Augustine was later built. A bell tower was added in 1464. Almost halfway along the covered passageway the old town well can be seen, the principle access to which is up in what is now called Piazza Mameli.
This imposing building seems to have been the earliest fortress of the fortified medieval town of Anghiari. After the town came under the control of the Republic of Florence in 1385, the original defensive function gradually became obsolete and the fortress was turned into a monastery. Traces of its transformation can be seen in the present Sala Audiovisivi, which once was the oratory of the convent of San Martino. Recent restoration work has brought to light important new evidence about the origins of Anghiari.