Anghiari, the village of the famous battle painted by Leonardo da Vinci
Anghiari is a delightful medieval village located in the upper Tuscan Tiber Valley about 25 kilometers from Arezzo. This hilltop hamlet is one of the most beautiful in the whole region as certified by the Bandiera Arancione of the Italian Touring Club and by inclusion in the list of the Borghi più belli d’Italia (most beautiful villages in Italy).
Anghiari owes a good portion of his fame to the battle that in 1440 saw the armies of Florence and Milan clash. The battle was won by the Florentines who, to celebrate the triumph, commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to immortalize the battle with a large fresco in the Salone dei Cinquecento in Palazzo Vecchio. Unfortunately Leonardo’s great work suffered damage and was replaced with a fresco by Vasari; of the original fresco there are only a few sketches and reproductions made by some artists such as Rubens who were lucky enough to be able to see it.
The village was born as a castle in the Lombard period even if the first written documentation dates back to 1048. In the 11th century Anghiari passed under the Camaldolese who built the Badia di San Bartolomeo there. After various vicissitudes, the village was conquered by the Florentines in 1440 following the famous Battle of Anghiari. Even today the plain where the battle took place is called “Piana della Battaglia”.
The tour. Things to do in Anghiari
- Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie
- Palazzo Pretorio
- Badia di San Bartolomeo
- Museo di Palazzo Taglieschi
- Museo della Battaglia di Anghiari
- Chiesa di Sant’Agostino
- Chiesa della Croce
- Chiesa di Santo Stefano
Chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie
Coming from the strada provinciale, the gateway to the village of Anghiari is the ancient Mercatale (market), piazza Baldaccio. From here a climb (via Trieste) leads us in front of the chiesa di Santa Maria delle Grazie, also known as the Propositura. The church, built in the 18th century, preserves a Giovanni Antonio Sogliano’s Ultima cena (the Last Supper), the Deposition from the Cross by Domenico Ubaldini called the Puligo and a glazed terracotta, Madonna della Misericordia, by Andrea Della Robbia.
Leaving the Prepositura we move to the right to reach Piazza del Popolo, the heart of the medieval village. Here stands the fourteenth-century Palazzo Pretorio (or Palazzo del Vicario). The current seat of the Municipality, the building is adorned with the coats of arms of the various vicars and podestàs sent by the Florentine government to administer justice. Inside there is a fresco, attributed to Antonio di Anghiari, which depicts La Giustizia (the Justice).
Badia di San Bartolomeo
On the opposite side of the square, an alley leads us to the entrance of the Badia di San Bartolomeo. The church, also known as Chiesa di Badia, was built by the Camaldolese monks from 1104. A peculiarity of the church is its anomalous asymmetrical interior, the result of the various alterations that have taken place over the centuries. Among his works there are a wooden Madonna attributed to the Sienese sculptor Tino di Camaino, a fifteenth-century ciborium and a dossal probably carved by Desiderio da Settignano in the mid-fifteenth century.
From the badia a street go down to Piazza Mameli. Here we find Palazzo Taglieschi and Palazzo del Marzocco, the seats respectively of the Museo di Palazzo Taglieschi and the Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari.
Museo di Palazzo Taglieschi
Palazzo Taglieschi is the result of the union of several tower houses of medieval origin. Since 1975 the building has housed the Museo Statale di Palazzo Taglieschi which displays works of art and architectural elements from various buildings and churches from the Tiberina valley. Among the most important works, a Nativity from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia and a wooden sculpture depicting the Virgin by Jacopo della Quercia.
Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari
The Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari deals with the history of Anghiari and its territory through documents and finds from various eras and various collections. The cornerstone of the exhibition is represented by the section dedicated to the Battle of Anghiari and the lost work that Leonardo da Vinci had dedicated to it.
For all information on timetables and tickets, I leave you the link to the museum’s official website.
Chiesa di Sant’Agostino
On the right of palazzo Taglieschi, we find the chiesa di Sant’Agostino. According to tradition, the origins of the Church would be related to step from Anghiari of Thomas Becket in 1162. The present Church dates from the 13th century although it was modified two centuries later. The Interior is in Baroque style, while the exterior has a sandstone facade opened by a Renaissance portal and by an oculus. During the eighteenth century the church was enriched with stucco decorations. In the choir there is an interesting polychrome terracotta, Adoration of the Shepherds, from the workshop of Santi Buglioni.
Among other things to see in Anghiari, I would also like to point out the beautiful Teatro dell’Accademia dei Ricomposti, a fine example of late 18th century architecture.
Immediately outside the original nucleus of the village, a long road leads from Anghiari to Sansepolcro. Along this route there are some beautiful buildings and also interesting churches such as that of the Cross and that of Santo Stefano.
Chiesa della Croce
The Chiesa della Crocestands at the confluence of three roads where San Francesco d’Assisi planted a cross in 1224. Built between 1499 and 1534, the church has a single nave with a series of altars with paintings such as the Invention of the Cross attributed to Francesco Curradi and the Immaculate Conception by Domenico Cresti known as il Passignano.
Chiesa di Santo Stefano
Built in the early Middle Ages, the Chiesa di Santo Stefano is composed of a central nucleus on whose sides there are three apses and an entrance. Inside there is a fifteenth-century panel, Madonna and Child with Saints, made by the Florentine painter Domenico di Michelino.
What to see around Anghiari
In the municipal area of Anghiari, about ten kilometers away from the village, I recommend a visit to the Castle of Montauto. Built in the 12th century on the ruins of a Lombard fortification, the castle dominates the Val Tiberina from a panoramic position. Another beautiful castle to see in this area is that of Galbino which is located just 5 kilometers from Anghiari. If you are also interested in other Val Tiberina centers, you can also take a look at the guides on Sansepolcro and Pieve Santo Stefano.
How to get to Anghiari
By bus: Suburban line BAAS by Etruria Mobilità that links Arezzo, Anghiari and Sansepolcro.
By car: from Arezzo Strada Statale SS73 and Strada Provinciale SP47 or SP43 and SP47.