The lost gold treasure of Scarlino: one hundred gold treasure coins whose mystery involves an important castle, warring nobility, Kings and a middle ages church in Maremma.
There is something inherently fascinating about treasure stories and, although the story of these gold treasure coins isn't tied to pirates and sunken ships, it does, however, involve a very important castle in la Maremma and medieval military campaigns between warring ruling nobility and Kings.
The mystery as to whom they belonged and why they were secretly stashed away has yet to be solved. Although the gold coins themselves give some clues...
This then is the story of Il Tesoro di Scarlino: the Scarlino treasure of gold coins - one hundred of them. Lost in the early fifiteenth century and found by archaeologists in the twentieth.
One of the lost gold treasure coins found in Scarlino
These are the facts - to date - about the Scarlino treasure of gold coins.
The gold coins were found in 1983 by archaeologists from University of Siena excavating the church of La Pieve di Santa Maria, situated in the grounds of the unusual medieval castle of Castello di Scarlino - La Rocca Pisana.
They were contained within a small glazed terracotta jar.
The jar had been hidden within a niche carved into the wall of the stable behind the "canonica" - rectory.
In total, there are 100 solid medieval gold coins or florins.
All of the coins are new, unused, in perfect condition, and of the same dimensions and weight.
They date from the first thirty years of the fifteenth century.
They are from eight diferent mints: seven Italian and one foreign. Those of Siena, Genova, Bologna, Firenze, Venezia, Roma, Milano and Hungary.
Two of the one hundred medieval gold treasure coins from the same mint
Who hid the coins and why still remains another of Maremma's medieval mysteries, but one fact has led the archaeologists and historians working on this site to suggest a possible explanation.
Although the medieval gold coins are in variable quantities and from the eight different mints, they are all of the same period. But one important mint that would have been in circulation in Maremma during that time is missing entirely: that of the "regnoi di Napoli - the Kingdom of Napoli. The absence of any Neopolitan mints from the treasure may be linked to the military discourse between the King of Napoli, Alfonso V d'Aragona, who had a strong rapport with the ruling noble Appiano family who governed the principality of Piombino (from the 14th to the 18th centuries) and the Orsini family who were loyal to the supporters of Scarlino.
It is thought that Scarlino ceased commercial activity with Piombino and its territories - hence the absence of any coins from the Napoli mint - and that the hoard was hidden in fear of the approaching military troops of King Alfonso from Piombino.
That the treasure was never retrieved is thought to be due to the death of the person or persons who had hidden them during an epidemic that swept across Tuscany and Maremma in the middle of the fifteenth century.
As to who had hidden them, it is considered that it must have been a "cardinale" (cardinal) or "vescovo" (bishop) at the church at the time, as the person who did so would not only have had to have had access to such considerable wealth - gold coins were not the "moneta" (money) of the common people and just their value in gold, not as ancient coins, is around Euros 21,000 - but also uninterrupted access to the stable and barn accessible from the "canonica" (priests house).
The Scarlino treasure of gold coins
You can see the Il Tesoro di Scarlino at the "Centro di Documentazione del Territorio Riccardo Francovich" - Le Colline Metallifere Territorial Archive Centre in the centre of Scarlino, along the Via della Rocca: one of the two steep medieval streets that takes you from the main square in Scarlino - the Piazza Garibaldi - to the castle on the top of the hill. The Center is located in the arched room what was the animal stables underneath the medieval pallazzo that now houses the Comune di Scarlino - Scarlino's council offices.
Open Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday between 09:00 and 12:00 and every day throughout the summer months. Visits outside of the normal opening hours can also be arranged. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Don't worry if you arrive on one of the mornings that it is open and find it well and truely closed - double-locked wrought-iron gate and all - just pop along to the "biblioteca" (library) located just a few feet from the piazza. They hold the key and will willingly come and open the Center for you.
Admission is free.
There is a fort-eight page book - in Italian - about the gold treasure coins of Il Tesoro di Scarlino in which each of the coins is photographed and described. It is called "Scarlino II. Il Tesoro" and its ISBN is 88-7814-088-0. Author: Tondo, Luigi. Edizione Firenze. Priced at Euros 20,50.
Explore some more...
Explore some more of Maremma's medieval mysteries and stories from her turbulent past...