Anghiari: strange to pronounce when you see it first written, awesome to behold! A medieval hill town set in North East Tuscany built with ramparts 100 metres high in places. Anghiari is famous for a bloody battle that took place on the plane below on 29th June 1441 between Florence and Milan. It was much later depicted by Leonardo da Vinci.
From May to October festivals and feasts (festa) take place here. The Palio della Vitorria (the Victory Race) on June 29th celebrates the victory of the Florentine troops and their allies over the Milanese troops of Filippo Maria Visconti in 1441. It is one of the oldest Palios in Tuscany and after all the Renaissance pageantry, the race is run on foot from the site of the battle down below to Piazza Balbaccio, half way up the steep hill of Corso Matteotti – see photo!
In May all the cantinas that look like old doors under houses along the town streets, are opened up. Local vendors and some from far flung parts of Italy too, display their wonderful Italian delicacies, stunning hand made jewellery and hand woven materials. Sophisticated hand made leather hand bags in beautiful colours and ceramics are also on sale, plus many more unusual things to buy.
If you are a fan of textiles and traditional weaving then a visit to Busatti weavers in Palazzo Morgalanti is a must. The family have been weaving in Anghiari since 1842 and made their initial fortune producing blankets and clothing for Napoleon’s army. They handweave even today and produce an incredible range of fabrics; from curtains, tablecloths and towels to bespoke designs.
Even if you don’t have room in your suitcase for a new set of curtains (you will be tempted!) it’s possible to rummage though the scampi and find a few pieces of beautiful material to take home and create cushion covers for example or just keep as a stylish and tactile souvenir.
Anghiari market is held every Wednesday until 1pm. Come July, the whole town is bathed in classical music. Concerts pop up in the tiny piazzas dotted around the town in the cool of the evening; trios and quartets are made up of musicians not just from Italy, but from England as well as other foreign countries.
The history of the local area is as dramatic as any Tuscan fortress town. Mercenaries grew rich like Baldaccio d’Anghiari, who built the wonderful Castello di Sorci, now a sought after locanda serving delicious pizza alongside a traditional menu. It is ideal for dining in large groups and for special occasions.
The Castello di Sorci was built in 1064 and is famous for its Ghost; according to local legend distant violins are heard playing and taps suddenly gush water in the antique terracotta basin in the hall. With a drop or two of the local wine and a walk around the original dungeons between courses, you might just suspend your disbelief for an hour or two…
Several good restaurants can be found in the centre of Anghiari, but further out there is another we like a lot as it’s so informal “Cappello di Paglia Toscano” aka ‘Tuscan straw hat’.
Another rather special place to eat is the Agritourism Mafuccio just past the Monti Rognosi Nature Reserve, 10 km north of Anghiari. All their ingredients are hand grown and reared and the view is stunning, but be prepared for a slightly bumpy ride up the track as it’s hidden away in a beautiful location in the hills.
On another subject there is a well known shoe outlet at the bottom of the Roman road that slices through Anghiari called Soldini. As you enter, a vast area meets your eyes mainly consisting of shoes for all ages and of every type.
There’s plenty to see, do, eat and enjoy in and around Anghiari; a fascinating area only 20 minutes drive from La Buia, just ask us for directions and tips – we’ll be happy to help make reservations too.
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