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Town walls

Photo by: Glauco Vicario

The historic town walls

Text by Maria Teresa Corso.

Over the last thirty years, the ancient dedication to the Serenissima, written in the Charter, is read to the Community by the first citizen on the first day of the year. This includes certain information regarding the town walls: it states how a fisherman wanted to get a new boat so was forced to go to Istria, at his own expense, to bring a load of stones back to the fortress, to be used to strengthen the walls.

There has always been some discussion about the fact that the Charter has no precise date: for some historians, it dates back to the XV century according to a linguistic analysis of the document, whereas the year 1623 mentioned in the text refers to some additional content.

There is a well-known saying in local dialect “le mure le ze nostre” (“the walls are ours”), making reference to an old song from Marano. In actual fact, the material used to build the walls was purchased from a construction entrepreneur, Mr. Carandon, the former mayor of the municipality of Muzzana del Turgnano, who also owned other plots inside the fortress.

Once the price was agreed for the purchase of the material (Istrian stone), Mr. Carandon transferred ownership of the walls to the local authorities, through a notarial act. But, for the locals, the stones in the walls ‘felt’ like their own, which is where the song from the end of the 19th century got its inspiration: “… Le mure le ze nostre e no de Carandon, sior Pimico de note, ze ‘ndò in tombolòn …”.

In 1894, the Municipality, through a series of acts and resolutions and the passing of external government commissioners, felt the need to knock down the walls, just like many other administrations across Europe were doing at the time, supported by the discovery that endemic diseases could be be fought through better ventilation.

St. Anthony’s bastion

This bastion can still be seen today along the Molino Canal: it is incorporated into the property belonging to the company Igino Mazzola Spa that turned it into a number of departments for processing tuna in brine. It got its name from St. Anthony’s church, which disappeared in the XVIII century.

The Mazzola factory has now been closed for a long time. A number of new project proposals aim at renovating the factory in order to build a residential complex, which also include the ancient artefacts, such as the remains of the two ancient churches that had been incorporated into the building – St. Anthony’s and St. Peter’s with the relative cemeteries – , a 16th century water well that was inside the park of Palazzo Zapoga, on the southern side of the factory, the stone heraldic shield of the Proveditor Pietro Memmo (1571) on the external façade of the walls and the hexagonal-based gunpowder store, built by the Proveditor Giuseppe Michiel.

St. Mark’s bastion

27th April 1561. Report by the Proveditor Marco Longo: “… Today, to fulfil my duties, I bought many boat-fulls of Massegna stone for a good amount of mortar material in order to build the foundations for St. Mark’s bastion, once and for all”.

In 1594, there was the problem of digging the soil out of the ditch where the bastion would be built, i.e. St. Mark’s crescent-shaped bastion.

In the 50s, Tarcisio Dal Forno wrote that this bastion “..was positioned where the rectory stands today, the former Villa de Asarta which included the home to the pharmacy, former home of the deceased Dr. Bianchi and neighbours…”.

In 1971, Villa de Asarta was demolished to make room for today’s nursery school building.

Land registry map. You can see the round bastion and Villa de Asarta built on top.

In 1898, Villa de Asarta was built on St. Mark’s Bastion, the foundations of which can be seen. You can also see the two-mullioned windows that belonged to the 16th century public loggia.

St. John’s bastion

This rounded bastion stood to the north of the town, underneath the foundations of today’s Z.G. house. Together with St. Mark’s bastion, this overlooked the small fort of Maranuzzo, notoriously owned by the archdukes, who had to be strongly resisted and carefully watched over.

This bastion got its name from the nearby “St. John of the Beaten” church.

The “little rampart”

This building stood between St. Mark’s bastion and St. Anthony’s bastion. Its role was to defend the side of the wall that overlooked St. Peter’s island, the place that was disputed by the Archdukes for a number of decades, i.e. by the nearby town of Carlino.