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Castagneto Carducci

Castagneto Carducci

«The conspicuous and famous Gherardesca family, which holds such a luminous place in the glories of the Pisan Republic, and which in its great misfortunes offered an immortal subject to the divine muse of Dante, having lost the dominion of Pisa, nevertheless remained mistress of a vast territory and forts castle. There were many of these, but due to various events they remained dismembered at various times. A portion of the ancient County forms the territory of the Community of which Castagneto, formerly Gherardesca, is the capital. In the enclosure of the ancient fortress, built in 1347 and now demolished, there is the Palazzo dei Conti, to which the Parish is annexed. There are many houses forming the current Castle, enlarged with a large village.»

(Attilio Zuccagni-Orlandini, Topographical Indicator of Grand Ducal Tuscany (1856)


The municipal territory of Castagneto Carducci is in the heart of the Alta Maremma or Northern Maremma, historically known as the Maremma Pisana (today also known as the Maremma Livornese), in the center of the so-called Etruscan coast. The territory is flat along the coast, where the important wildlife reserve of Bolgheri is located, while it rises inland. The coastal strip overlooks the Ligurian Sea and is characterized by vast pine forests, planted following the reclamations carried out in the 19th century in order to protect the agricultural land behind.

The medieval castle, together with the church of San Lorenzo, constitute the original nucleus of the town. The history of the village, like that of other centers of the ancient Pisan Maremma, is linked to the events of the Della Gherardesca family, a bond that is not always peaceful between this territory and the noble prosapia, difficult relationships which over the centuries have seen the population of Castagneto fight for their rights as an independent community and for the conquest of civic uses.

In 754, the Lombard nobleman Wilfrid, who later became saint San Walfredo, progenitor of the Della Gherardesca family, had many possessions in the Maremma and when he decided to become a Benedictine monk and found the Monastery of San Pietro in Palazzuolo, in Monteverdi Marittimo, he donated those properties of his to the monastery itself; these included Castagneto and other neighboring territories. Donations like this and similar ones, according to the historian Lopes-Pegna, served the Lombard nobility in order to protect themselves from the patrimonial claims of the Franks, newly arrived lords of Italy, thus protecting their possessions and linking their interests to those of the Church. The surname of the Della Gherardesca family has as its patronymic a Gherardo, Lord of Pisa and Volterra, living in the 10th century who took possession of various lands in the Maremma, where he exercised the role of vicar of the Maritime Republic of Pisa, becoming lord of the castle of Donoratico and of his possessions including Castagneto, Bolgheri, Bibbona, Casale, Montescudaio.

The ties between the Della Gherardesca family and Castagneto continued throughout the medieval era; in 1161, Frederick Barbarossa officialized the ownership of Castagnetum to the Gherardesca family.

In 1161, the oldest count of Castagneto Tedice was remembered in a dispute with the abbot of the monastery of San Pietro al Palazzuolo di Monteverdi. Emanuele Repetti remembers in his Historical Geographical and Physical Dictionary of Tuscany: "Among the names of the counts mentioned therein is that Tedice di Ugo who was Power of Pisa in 1186 and 1192, sent in 1198 to Constantinople as ambassador to the Emperor Alexius Alexius III Angelo. ( ARCH. of the CC. of GHERARDESCA)".

At the end of the 12th century, Henry VI of Swabia donated the castles around Castagneto, as well as those of Bibbona, Biserno, Campiglia and Vignale, to the city of Pisa in recognition of the help given to the emperor in conquering territories in southern Italy; therefore, the Della Gherardesca lords were able to enjoy the status of captain of justice that is, absolute power over these territories.

The castle of Castagneto was attacked several times between 1300 and 1334 by the Gherardesca family of Biserno, as a consequence of internal struggles between the various branches of the family; during the wars between the Pisans and the Florentines the castles of Castagneto and Bolgheri were damaged.

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