The ancient Landside Door, also called ‘St. Antonio’.


The ancient Landside Door or St. Antonio is the main access to the defence complex of the Torrione-Rivellino.  It was commissioned and built by Rinaldo Orsini, Lord of Piombino and husband of Caterina Appiani at the beginning of 1447, when he thought that a siege of the city by Alfonso I of Aragon, king of Naples, was a probability. Alfonso was already marching towards Milan.

The Rivellino was therefore built quickly in order to improve the defence of the Landside Door. The master mason was the Provençal William di Piero, but it is believed that the military aspect is the work of Orsini himself. The siege took place with an army of 8,000 soldiers, 7,000 horsemen and a fleet that followed the path of King Alfonso by sea.  In the summer of 1447 an epic battle was fought lasting three months, and was won by the Piombinese who repulsed the powerful Aragonese army. As a reminder of the feat there is an inscription above the door of the Rivellino in honour of Rinaldo Orsini.

The construction of the ten-metre-high stone walls had begun during the period of Municipal Freedom in the thirteenth century. Previously the town had been protected by wooden fences, moats and ramparts. The heart of the landside defence was the door for access to and exit from, the city. The oldest part of the complex is the Torrione which is about 25 meters high and was built in 1212. The inscription in honour of Rinaldo Orsini, walled into the right edge of the Torrione confirms the date. The names of the Elders who had ordered the construction are engraved in the same inscription: Angelero, Bonnome and Sinibaldo.

In the fifteenth century, war techniques evolved and a massive use of heavy firearms was introduced. An outer door was built. This was a large, slightly trapezoid space with crenels on the sides and in front of the new walls. The drawbridge and the ditch that had been built earlier in front of the thirteenth century tower were eliminated and new ones were positioned on the north side opposite the new door. We are now in the early decades of the fifteenth century.

The fortified monumental complex of the Torrione and Rivellino in defence of the Landside Door took over 235 years to be completed.



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