The analysis of the city walls of the Borgo di Bagnaia, revealed several phases of construction related to a chronological period from the 10th to 17th century.
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THE WALLS AND THE TOWERS OF BAGNAIA
HISTORY AND DESCRIPTION
The defensive aspect of Bagnaia is still preserved, unchanged, in the walls and towers of the small town. Beginning on the west side, the walls continue on to the south, following the way of the stone buttresses. On the western side of the baronial palace, the walls turn south-west, and are interrupted by the palace. On the south side, the wall continues again after the tower constructed by Ridolfi in 1541. From this point in the city walls, on top of the limestone tufa where it’s built, it proceeds to the east near the cliff, underneath which is the valley Pierina. Throughout the readings about the structures that make up the city walls, different construction phases are clear, referring to a chronological scope from the 10th century until the 17th. Therefore, starting in the 10th century, Bagnaia already must have had an organized defensive structure of the city. The first mention of Bagnaia is from a document of the farfense records of the year 996. According to the architectural evidence, there was no registered indication of a change in tactical planning of the wall from the beginning of the 11th century until the 14th. Therefore from the 10th to the 11th century, it can be hypothesized that the process of the fortification of Bagnaia had already begun. From the 15th until the 16th century, there was a reinforcement of the city walls, shown by the presence of bastion houses and circular and square towers next to the wall. Renovations were most likely motivated by the appearance of firearms. In particular in the 16th century, the will to reinforce the wall was inferred from the tower constructed by Ridolfi in 1541, and from the construction of the baronial palace that shows obvious military characteristics. Over time, the walls have undergone restorations, damages, and alterations. Today, few visible or legible features show clearly on the medieval wall, and in addition there is an almost complete lack of sources of information from that time period. In effect, there are only two documents from before the XVI century that show news of the wall of Bagnaia; they offer valuable information about construction projects carried out in the late middle ages. The first document is kept in the Riforme del Comune of Viterbo. It informs us of the construction of a defensive structure, and refers to the construction of a tower in Bagnaia (likely the large circular tower) in 1445. The second document, from 1476, was written by the notary Muzzarello di Gerardo and reviewed the reparations of the City Hall Palace of Bagnaia, which offers us a few useful details to pinpoint that the maintenance of the wall was the task of the episcopal vicar. This near-total lack of documents is a result of the fact that since 1202 the bishop, and as a consequence the people of Bagnaia, were forbidden by the City Hall of Viterbo to construct buildings with defensive characteristics; consequently, the castle’s authorities hid the official nature of some substantial operations inside the city walls. It can’t be thought, though, that for nearly two hundred years the wall didn’t need to be repaired or partially rebuilt. Probably, the decision to intervene was made directly by the Comune of Viterbo. The documents of the known archives, “Papers of the town of Viterbo”; Margarita Viterbo in which news of Bagnaia was reported that spanned a time period that began at the first mention of Bagnaia as castrum (1118), until the late middle ages; the scrolls of the ex-district of Bagnaia (now preserved in the Municipal Library of Ardenti, and contain some leases, judicial processes, that examine Bagnaia from the end of the thirteenth century until the eighteenth century); The Reforms of the City of Viterbo; the book of Statutes of Bagnaia of 1565; and other indirect sources such as inscriptions on the facades of some private houses or buildings inside the wall, provide the starting point for future and more detailed work on the history of research of the walls of the village of Bagnaia.
Province of Viterbo, Bagnaia. The walls and towers of Bagnaia.
Translation by Katherine Wolf, University of Iowa, enrolled in the USAC Viterbo program at Università degli Studi della Tuscia.
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