Malmantile Town Walls

How to reach

Malmantile can be reached following the indications from the center of Lastra a Signa.


The small fortified village of Malmantile is encircled by one of the finest and most well-preserved medieval town walls in Tuscany. The origin of the settlement is unknown, it was mainly a military stronghold along the ancient road that connected Florence to Pisa and only then became a town. The legend says that the origin of its name dates back to the 4th century! S.Ambrogio, bishop of Milan, was traveling towards central Italy, while S.Zanobi, bishop of Florence, was in this zone. The two religious people met just outside the town walls, where today rises a tabernacle, and remained for some days to talk about religiosity, guests of a homestead. When S. Ambrogio left, he was so dissatisfied with the bad welcome received from the inhabitants of the place that he cursed the land, and a few days later, the homestead collapsed into a crack! After this event, the place was called 'Malmantile' which in ancient Italian meant 'bad welcome'.

The late Gothic walled enclosure of the country dates back to 1424 and is considered one of the first examples of fortified town-walls with machicolations on all the perimeter, which became the most used type for all the successive centuries. Also, the great Florentine architect Brunelleschi took part at its construction. The walls have a dimension of 125x70 meters and form nearly a perfect rectangle, oriented with the longest sides to the northwest and southeast and with the shortest, at the center of which are opened the two gates, to the northeast and the southwest. Although all the perimeter of the stone walls is conserved, little remains of the machicoulis. This was formed by brackets in stone, of the four rounded projection type, to support the ogival arch in bricks. Here we can find, on alternate ogive, the hole for the dropping defense. The town-walls are completed with square towers at the angles and the other two towers in the middle of the longest sides.

The two gates, both with curved arch, are obtained with a outside projection of the town wall and endowed with loopholes on both sides. At the west end of the gate, turned towards Pisa (southwest), we find the only intact part of the machicolations, crowned by a parapet. At the south of the gate the walls are, at some points, pierced by the windows of the houses built against the inside.

The northwest side is free from inner construction but partially covered by external houses. The other gate, toward Florence, needs urgent restoration, the arch is nowadays at risk of collapse. 

More info & notes

Malmantile, usually between May and June, accommodates a 'Festa Medievale' (Medieval reenactment):