Porta Patrizia

Porta Patrizia takes its name from the ancient castle Monte Patrizio and is the gate to the North of the Old Town. It is also called Porta a capite (upper gate) and it is here that the roads from Ascoli, the mountains and the Farfa lands converged. On top of the gate, there is an epigraph dating back to1649 that honours the great towns person Sistus V, defining him as son and father at the same time.

Dominated by the imposing tower, it has witnessed the comings and goings of the community for centuries. In 1380, it repelled the attack of the mercenaries of the White Company of Giovanni Acuto and Count Lando but later was defeated by the Sforza and the Duke of Urbino. Here the Master of Justice, the executioner, arrived for executions escorted by the guards. It was also from here that Monsignor Paolo Emilio Giovannini, first Bishop of Montalto, was kidnapped by some bandits (assisted by two of his nephews). He had to pay a ransom of 2000 ecus to secure his release. Merchants, pilgrims and vagabonds also arrived to Porta Patrizia with their news of the world. In addition, the notaries were to be found here to offer their services to those who had need of, for example, a legal deed, a sale, a rental agreement, a marriage contract, alast will. The gate was where people woulddiscuss world events.

In the shadow of Porta Patrizia, intelligence and inexperience, cunning and gullibility challenged each other as narrated in the episode of the solemn bet between Bitto di Rigo, a brave but imprudent master shoemaker, and Ser Giulio Sclara, an expert and astute notary. The stakes were considerable: they bet on the siege of Siena defended by the French under King Henry. Bitto had his money on the victory of the French and the Sienese, while Ser GIulio on the Spanish commanded by Cosimo de’ Medici. Ser Giulio cheated because four days earlier, Siena had surrendered. Ser Giulio was aware of this, while Bitto was in the dark! Finally, Mario Castralupi left from Porta Patrizia in the early spring of 1596 to go on pilgrimage to S. Giacomo di Compostella and never returned to Montalto.