Anghiari is an absolutely beautiful hilltop walled town. Enclosed within massive 13th century walls, we’re not surprised that it makes the list of ‘borghi piu belli d’Italia‘ (most beautiful villages in Italy) as well as receiving the prestigious ‘Orange Flag’ from the Italian Touring Club. An incredibly charming Medieval village, characterised by old stone houses overlooking narrow cobbled and streets adorned with tubs of colourful flowers, it’s certainly picture-postcard stuff!
The town has a rich and rather fascinating history, and held a key strategic role in the Middle Ages thanks to its elevated position. The valley below the village was the setting for the famous Battle of Anghiari on 29 June 1440. The battle was for control of what became Tuscany when the outnumbered Florentine troops defeated the troops from Milan. The Florentines commissioned Leornardo da Vinci to capture the events which he did in his fresco predictably named ‘The Battle of Anghiari’. The work was subsequently displayed in Florence in the Salone dei Cinquecento in the Palazzo Vecchio but, sadly, has since been lost. However, don’t completely despair – there is a copy by Peter Paul Rubens which it is still possible to view.
What to do in Anghiari
Anghiari is one of our favourite towns in Tuscany and we love just aimlessly wandering through its narrow streets lined with houses, shops and churches. Medieval stone houses look down over the streets below, their small windows set behind charming wooden shutters. The entrances and balconies of the houses are often decorated with flowers which being vibrant colours to the narrow streets of Anghiari, making it even more alluring. It won’t take long to explore the town centre if you’re just passing through, but we would urge you to stay longer if you can.
A good starting point for any visit is a trip to the Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari in the 15th century Palazzo del Marzocco. This is to be found in the town’s main square, the Piazza Mameli, which always tends to be bustling with locals who head there to meet one another. You’ll learn more about the history of Anghiari in the museum along with the famous battle that took place here. (Incidentally, the palace was once home to the famous Anglieri family).
Whilst you are here, you may also want to pop into the Palazzo Taglieschi State Museum (Museo Statale) which is also in this square. Exhibits here include various works of 15th and 16th century art, ranging from frescoes to sculptures and from paintings to plaques, including a wooden Madonna by Jacopo della Quercia and terracotta by Andrea Della Robbia.
After your visit, head to the Via di Ronda where you can enjoy views over the plains of Anghiari where the battle would have taken place. Certainly, no visit would be complete without also walking along the walls and the high part of town to admire the wonderful views. Other spots where you can enjoy the impressive views over the Tiber Valley include the Campo alla Fiera. You’ll also find the 18th century Chiesa del Fosso here and the 16th century Campano (bell tower) along with a charming cafe terrace which has fantastic views.
Or, alternatively, head to Il Conventone and the Palazzo Pretorio in the highest part of the town. The palace exterior is decorated with various historic coats of arms and a 16th century fresco and is now home to the town hall but was once the home of the old tribunal. Inside you can still find the old dungeons and prison cells, along with a chapel which contains 15th frescoes by Antonio di Anghiari, one of the teachers of the great artist Piero della Francesca along with a Roman basin.
There are a number of beautiful churches in Anghiari well worth a visit too. The oldest church is the Badia of San Bartolomeo, originally dating back to the 12th century but re-modelled in the 14th. It’s worth taking a look inside to see the 13th century wooden crucifix and an early 14th century Virgin and Child, sculpted from a single walnut trunk. Other religious buildings of note include the the Chiesa di San Agostino (with its unusual Matteo di Giovanni triptych), the Chiesa della Badia, the Chiesa e Convento della Croce, the 18th century Church of Santa Maria della Grazie (home to a number of 15th and 16th century works of art, including the original Della Robbia Madonna of Mercy) and the Church of Corpus Domini.
Finally, if you really want to immerse yourself in the history of the Battle of Anghiari, then there is also a walk from Anghiari to Sansepolcro (and back again), retracing the steps of the troops that would have fought in the battle. The walk starts from the Museo della Battaglia e di Anghiari, passes the 15th century Maesta shrine of Santa Maria alla Vittoria, along the old Reglia dei Mulini stream that proved to be so decisive on that day. From here, you’ll reach the River Tiber on the outskirts of Sansepolcro before heading into the town from where the Milanese troops launched their attack on 29 June 1440.
Events in Anghiari
There are a few events in Anghiari each year. The first, not surprisingly, is on 29 June to commemorate and celebrate the famous battle of Angiari. On this day the Palio della Vittoria takes place. The event starts with a parade of flag throwers and is soon followed up with a race at sunset from the battle site in the valley, up the hill, and through the narrow streets of the town to the Piazza Baldaccio, accompanied by a parade with residents dressed up in Medieval costumes.
The village is also famous for its annual music festival, held every July. The festival lasts a week and is a chance to enjoy an array of symphonic, chamber and choral music. The London Southbank Sinfonia has been the resident orchestra at this festival for a number of years now.
Another good time to visit would be in the Spring, to coincide with the Mostra-Mercato dell’Artigianato della Valtiberina (the Handicraft Market of the Tiber Valley) which is a great opportunity to admire the incredible work of local craftsmen. Or visit in November when there is the Hundred Flavours of the Apennines (I Cento Gusti dell’Appennino), a chance to sample the incredible local gastronomic delights that the local area is renowned for producing. Anghiari is also famous for its antiques and there are a number of antique fairs throughout the year too.
Whatever time of year you visit, if you can, head to Anghiari on market day. The Wednesday market has been held in the Piazza Baldaccio every week since 1388!
Where to eat in Anghiari
Anghiari can boast a range of excellent restaurants, offering everything from more formal dinners to a casual pizza. Some of our favourites include:
Da Alighiero – Our favourite restaurant in Anghiari, this restaurant serves up excellent food using the freshest ingredients and great service to go with it. Check on the day to see what specials they have on offer.
La Nena – A great restaurant serving up authentic Tuscan dishes in a small, traditional, cosy atmosphere.
Vecchia Osteria la Pergola – A fantastic family run restaurant serving up truly authentic Tuscan cuisine accompanied with an excellent wine list and great value house wine.
Antico posto di ristoro – Delicious Tuscan food
Where to stay in Anghiari
If you want to stay in Anghiari, then this stunning 7 bedroom villa in Tuscany is within walking distance of the village. Comfortably sleeping up to 20 guests, the property is an incredibly authentic base to stay and you’ll have the added luxury of a private pool to enjoy once you’ve finished exploring Anghiari. But don’t worry – if you’re not travelling with that many people, there’s the option to rent just the main villa here and still enjoy the grounds to yourself.
How to travel to Anghiari
By train: The nearest train station is in Arezzo, approximately 30 km away. However, if you’re limited to travelling by public transport, there are regular buses from here to Anghiari.
By bus: Buses tend to be good value for money, fairly punctual and run regularly to a number of nearby towns.
By car: Travelling by car is probably the easiest way to reach Anghiari.
By plane: The nearest airport is in Perugia (55km).