Capalbio a medieval village in the Tuscan Maremma

Capalbio and its land represent the extreme southern gate of two realities with different charm and character, not only in a geographical sense: Tuscany and its Maremma, a binomial synergy of an ancient land, often mysterious, with landscapes rich in colours and fragrances, its roots deep in history and a particular lifestyle.

Capalbio

It’s a frontier and a crossroads, despite its impervious territory covered in swamps even in modern times, its historical heritage is full of anecdotes.

The Etruscans left important traces of their way of life with their first forms of urbanization, whilst the Romans with their villas from the Republican age and their imperial estates.

The origins of Capalbio can be found in in the XII century and it was claimed by powerful families such as the Aldobrandeschis, the Orsinis, and finally by the Republic of Siena, as it is mentioned in the writing found on the main access gate to the old part: “I am Capalbio, happy, defended by the lion of Siena that watches over me”, as it was translated by Gabriele d’Annunzio, the forerunner of the VIPs who would visit and inhabit this town.

There is much evidence of this period of floridity. The Grand Duchy of Tuscany took it over and then the Medici family governed the province, which marks the beginning of a slow and progressive decay, despite some intervention on the drainage of the land; the process of decay continued during the following centuries under the leadership of the Lorena family, until the whole province became a hiding place for bandits coming from Lazio and the Papal State.

Only two big families had remained as sole owners by then, the Collacchionis, who lived in the castle overlooking Capalbio, and the Vivarelli Colonnas, from the Pescia Fiorentina area.

Brigandage was a real social phenomenon that combined political dissent with common delinquency.

The regional states that existed before Italy became one single nation had abolished the right to roam the woodland in search of firewood, to fish in the rivers and to gather the ears of corn and wheat left in the fields after the harvest, and as a result thousands of farmers found themselves outlawed and starving.

 

Brigante Tiburzi Tomb

This happened to be the fate of Domenico Tiburzi, an icon of brigandage. He defended- in unusual ways- the privileges of local land lords in exchange of a “brigandage tax”, offering them protection in return; he would distribute this money to the poor in order to get services and precious information.

He disdained arrangements with common criminals, was implacable with traitors but faithful to friends.

Tiburzi became a symbol of rebellion against a society based on injustice and abuse of power.

The people of Capalbio acknowledged he possessed a certain measure of altruism and generosity towards the needy and when the parson of Capalbio refused the bandit a funeral and the burial in the sacred land of the cemetery because he had been a sinner, they agreed on the compromise that his body should be buried half in and half out of the partition wall, so that head and chest – the soul- could remain excluded.

Brigandage was defeated at the end of the 19th century; only a few bandits ended up in handcuffs as most preferred to be killed rather than give themselves up.

The right Honourable Gentleman Massari defined brigandage as “The brutal and wild protest of poverty against long standing injustices”, strictly related to the large Maremman estates and the resulting social tensions.

We had to wait until the middle of the 1950s for the implementation of a rural reform through a colonization project and real urban planning.

The settlement of local people in the new farms, as Ente Maremma had wanted it, was followed by interventions on viability, electrification, water supply works and services to the population; new villages came to life such as Borgo Carige, Pescia Fiorentina, Torba, Giardino, Torre Palazzi, each with its own church and shop and where all kinds of activities were represented.

Capalbio in Maremma

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