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Anghiari, its churches

Rich in religious architecture and there are many monasteries, churches and convents to discover

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Saint Agostino Church
The origins of this church go back to when Thomas Becket (chancellor of Henry II of England and Archbishop of Canterbury) passed through the town. In 1164, Rolando di Montedoglio, Bishop of San Bartolomeo, gave Becket the old converted coal sheds just outside the town walls. These coal sheds were turned into monks cell and an oratory dedicated to Saint Antonio. In the thirteenth century, the town came under the protection of Saint Agostino and shortly afterwards, a church dedicated to the saint was built on top of the oratory. At one point, the bell tower collapsed and the church was subsequently enlarged in 1464, just before Florentine rule over the town began. During Florentine rule, the whole area around the church was rebuilt and enlarged to how we see it today. This church was recently restored.

Abbey Church or the Abbey of Saint Bartolomeo
It is believed that centuries ago, this church was a rocky temple. The first documented evidence of a church on this site dates back to 1105. It was part of the oratory of the Camaldolese Monastery dedicated to Saint Bartolomeo and was the first Christian place of worship within the town’s fortified walls. The church was rebuilt in the fourteenth century by the Tarlati family, and by 1446 it had an asymmetrical floor plan and crossed vaults. The church is home to two historically important sculptures. The first is the Madonna with Child, attributed to Tino di Camaino (circa 1317) and the second is a crucifix from the end of the thirteenth century. The bell tower is also of particular interest due to its square shape, four windows and lack of spire.

Saint Maria delle Grazie Church (Propositura)
This church was built between 1628 and 1740 and has been restored several times. The church is home to a glazed terracotta Madonna delle Grazie sculpture (placed behind the main altar) which comes from the workshop of Andrea della Robbia. Other important works of art in the church include two paintings by the Florentine artist Giovanni di Antonio Sogliani (1492 – 1544). The church houses ‘L’Ultima Cena’ and ‘La Lavanda dei Piedi’ by this artist, both of which have recently been restored. Above the right altar is another interesting painting by Domenico di Bartolomeo Ubaldini (known as ‘il Puligo’) showing the ‘Deposizione dalla Croce’ (1515). This work of art is mentioned by Vasari as being one of the artists’ best paintings.

Church and Convent della Croce
This church was founded in 1499 by the Confraternity of Santa Maria del Borghetto on the same spot where Saint Francis planted a cross. Construction was completed in 1566. It was originally dedicated to Saint Francis of Assisi and only got its current name in 1537. The convent was enlarged in 1563 when a loggia was added to the church’s façade (1565). The interior of the church has a single nave and is decorated by sixteenth and seventeenth century altars which were put in place by the most important families in Anghiari. These altars also show many seventeenth century Florentine school paintings, such as the ‘Ritrovamento della Croce’ (on the main altar) and the ‘Immacolata Concezione’ by Domenico Cresti, known as ‘il Passignano’ (on the right altar).

Monastery of Saint Martino (Conventone)
This imposing building was originally the fortress of Castrum Anglaris, the medieval fortified town that went on to become modern-day Anghiari. It was originally three metres higher, with ramparts, and loomed over the small town from every angle. It was supported by spurs. The original nucleus of the building was made up of the ancient Abbey of Saint Bartolomeo which had been transformed into a fort by the Perugians between 1337 and 1347. After Anghiari was conquered by the city of Florence, there was no more need for a fort in the town and so it was transformed into a monastery. During restoration work in 1956, many twelfth and thirteenth century elements of the building were uncovered.

Baptistery and Church of Saint Giovanni Battista
This church can be found in the old via del Borghetto, today known as via Taglieschi. Construction of the church was completed in 1442. Before it was built, there wasn’t a baptismal font in the town and the local inhabitants had to go to nearby Micciano, to the church of Santa Maria, when they wanted to baptise a child. The entrance to the church has stood the test of time and in fact, ‘1442’ is inscribed on it, the year that the town’s need for a baptismal font was recognised by Pope Eugenio IV. The door itself is an identical copy of the original which is being restored by the Istituto Statale d’Arte in Anghari. The font was moved in 1569 and placed in the church of Santa Maria alla Sovara. Although the baptistery is no longer used for its original purpose, the wooden stairway and banister inside is still well-conserved.

Church of Saint Stefano
If you leave Anghiari on the old fourteenth century main road, you’ll eventually come across the small church of Saint Stefano. The church marks the beginning of the vast plain that spreads all the way to Sansepolcro. This church has been significantly altered over the centuries and was fully restored in 1970. It was originally a brick built temple with a twelfth/thirteenth century layout and style influenced by Byzantine and Ravennese architecture. There are three semi-circular chapels in the church. The exterior of the church is decorated with arches on each side from which the chapels emerge like apses. The chapels were probably meant to allude to the Holy Trinity, especially as this area was fought for by the Longobards, who had a strikingly different faith. Inside the church, the chapels are linked to the central area by arches supported by Roman columns with Ionic decorations. The church is home to a fourteenth century painting entitled ‘Madonna con Bambino e Santi’ by the Florentine artist, Domenico di Michelino.

Church of Saint Maria Maddalena
This church, built on the old fourteenth century road, was constructed between 1637 and 1746. It was presumably constructed on top of an older structure which had once been a hostel for wayfarers dedicated to San Martino. The building is part of a larger structure which includes a courtyard surrounded by porticoes on two floors. The church’s façade has a simple stone architrave below an iron cross. The wooden door bears the inscription1639’. The interior of the church is made up of a single nave with crossed vaults in the ceiling. There are Late Baroque stucco decorations on one of the vaults and a seventeenth century fresco depicting the apparition of Christ to Maddalena.

Corsi Chapel (Chapel of the Caduti, or Fallen)
This chapel is part of an ancient group of buildings built by Benedetto Corsi between 1777 and 1794. Also part of the group are Teatro Corsi (the theatre) and Palazzo Corsi. The church was built between 1777 and 1778 and was dedicated to Saint Tommaso of Villanova who was the patron saint of the Corsi family. The building has three vaults and a perimeter corridor which corresponds to an upper area that houses many eighteenth century marble decorations laid out in a chromatic sequence. In 1900, the building was bought by the local authorities and a restoration committee was set up in 1919. In 1925, the façade was completed by the architect, Remo Magrini.
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