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The Tower of Matigge  Italiano.gif (234 byte)

A witness to the restless and bloody struggles among the townships during the Middle Ages, the tower rises imposingly by the side of the Via Flaminia: a powerful instrument of defense, but also a striking demonstration of the power of the comune of Trevi.

The many commercial and industrial buildings that have recently sprung up around it have sapped much of the menacing grandeur that it had up to the middle of last century.

Old folk still remember truculent tales of brigands who conducted their nefarious enterprises in this place. The solitude of the place and the disquieting, enigmatic lack of any door by which the interior might be accessed (no one has ever seriously looked for the underground entrance, and if anyone found something during the construction of those new buildings, they certainly never spread the word about) gave rise to many fearful tales and continue to feed them today.

The tower was recently consolidated after the 1997 earthquake.

 

 
The tower seen from the NW- photo 2/24/2004 n.670-16c

 

The events that led to its construction and the importance it had in past centuries are well described by the following article, excerpted from: Tommaso Valenti, Curiosità storiche Trevane, Foligno, 1922

 

To the east of the Via Flaminia, the ancient Roman road, about halfway between Foligno and Trevi, rises this interesting monument, arresting the attention of the traveller, and keeping alive for us and for others a legend of fearful events, of horrendous assaults and murders committed nearby.

We find many interesting memories of the tower in our own archives, the Archivio delle Tre Chiavi. On September 28, 1392 a certain Angelo del Medico proposed to the City Council of Trevi that in order to defend against malefactors who lurked in the environs day and night, committing all sorts of crimes, a huge fosse or ditch be dug on the lower slopes of the mountain of Matigge with a well-constructed tower, and that three good men vested with full legal powers — tres bonos et legales homines — be put in charge of the work. And in fact on December 29th of that year Manente di Petruccio, Ser Angelo del Medico and Ser Andrea di Ser Nuccino were duly appointed.

They did not, however, set to work right away, and the Council had to insist that they be requested to do so. To facilitate the work Del Medico was given the right, on November 1, 1393, to exact a sort of forced loan from the inhabitants of Matigge (imponere prestantiam) to be paid back to them by discounts on their regular taxes in the future (in successivis dativis).

So the required equipment and material were gathered together, but by the end of 1394 the work had not yet started; and on December 18th of that year the Council pressed the Commission once again to think seriously about building the Tower.

Finally, on January 10, 1395 the contract was drawn up with the mason Gregorio da Cerreto, who had also built the Tower in neighboring Fabbri, requiring of him various terms and conditions, and imposing a fine of one hundred pounds in case of default. The work, however, proceeded by fits and starts, and maybe none too well, since on September 13, 1395 the Council recommended once again that the contractor be pressed and that the work be of high quality and beautiful and of the measurements that had been agreed upon.

Shorly thereafter the Tower was finished and a guard was assigned to it. For the guard's convenience the Tower was provided with a cistern, an oven and a mill — maybe a windmill — and on the top of Tower a 300‑pound bell was placed to sound the alarm as needed; and when the bell rang, each household was required to send one man quickly, or be fined one florin each time it failed to do so.

The Tower was provided with a secret entrance under the road; inside it, there was a stash of arms and ammunition. The Tower was crowned with battlements three feet tall, built by Giovanni Paluzzi in 1427; the top reached by a wooden staircase, which was rebuilt several times over the years.

At the foot of the Tower there was an enormous defensive fosse, traversed by bridges, dug by requiring each household in Matigge to send one laborer to work on it.

But all these precautions failed to render the Tower impregnable. Among other times for example, on July 3, 1488 it was assaulted by Franceschino Cybo and his party, who were roaming around our territory plundering and pillaging. Here is how Mugnoni tells the story: "On the 3d of July 1488 sire Franceschino came, the son of Pope Innocent VIII [(1) Innocent VIII, formerly Giovanni Battista Cybo, had lived a few years in his youth in Naples at the court of Alfonso I of Aragon. "But having had of a noblewoman two children named Francesco and Teodorina, which were said to be legitimate, and the mother having died shortly thereafter, he was for that reason forced to leave the city...." — Thus Platina in the Historia delle vite dei Sommi Pontefici. — Author's Note] with many squads of men-at‑arms; twice they came to the territory of Trevi to pillage it, once to the Tower of Matiggia, and they took [away?] barley and spelt.

It is unclear from this account whether the barley and the spelt were taken away from the Tower, where they may have been stored for greater safety, or whether, on the contrary, the booty of grain was taken by the looters to the Tower to be stored there.

It was as a result of this incident that the Comune decided to reinforce the fortifications of the Tower, continuing to completion the work on the ravelin that had been already built on three sides in 1486, ten rods and 65 feet long, at an expense of 28 florins, 8 Bolognini and 27 pence. The completion of the ravelin ordered in 1489 cost 60 florins.

In 1539 it was decided to build near the Tower a hut roofed over with tiles to house the men who guarded the Tower itself. But this new building was demolished in 1601, in order to use the tiles for roofing the Tower itself, which had been damaged by bad weather.

In our "Riformanze" we find many measures taken for the maintenance and restoration of this little fortress; an obvious sign that, in those days, its usefulness was undeniable.
I will spare myself the task of citing the many documents in the matter, that students of such matters will easily find in the Archivio delle Tre Chiavi.

The current condition of the Tower remains adequate..1. I don't believe the interior can be accessed without a ladder, since the old passage to it under the road has remained buried. On the west side of the Tower, the side that faces onto the Via Flaminia can be seen several coats-of-arms, among them those of Trevi, of Perugia, and of the Bishop Bardi (?) are in rather good condition.

 


Photo 8/30/06 713.34c

 

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translated by Bill Thayer

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Note
1) As stated, it was recently restored after the 1997 earthquake