The formidable walls of Montagnana, a beautiful medieval town in the province of Padua, are the stone compendium of a long history of battles: an architectural, 14th-century compendium that has been beautifully preserved with its merlons, perimeter towers, arches, parapets, and soldier housings.
One name perhaps more than others can represent the vicissitudes and relevance of this magnificent, urban perimeter, which extends over approximately two kilometers in circumference: Ezzelino III da Romano (1194-1259), a ruthless Venetian leader who between 1225 and 1258 imposed his fierce and bloody tyranny over the municipalities of Trento, Verona, Belluno, Vicenza, Padua, Brescia and Bassano.
As a Ghibelline ally to Emperor Frederick II of Swabia, Ezzelino torched the rebellious town of Montagnana in 1242. It comes to no surprise that Dante placed him –
That forehead there which has the hair so black – in his “Inferno” (Canto XII, 110), among those who were violent against their neighbor, immersed in a river of boiling blood. According to legend, Ezzelino proceeded to build the stronghold Rocca di San Zeno, including Porta Padova, which is the oldest part of these city walls.
After Ezzelino’s time, the walls of Montagnana always protected the town, at least until the 1500s (when firearms first became available). The town indeed was never taken.
And so here are the beautiful, intact walls of Montagnana.