Italian Legends from Maremma

Le Leggende

Italian legends - "le Leggende" that are still re-told by grandfather to grandchild today. There is something intrinsically fascinating about legends: passed down from one generation to the next, a mixture of factual occurences and years of storytelling fiction, which over the course of time it becomes increasingly difficult to separate. But perhaps in our modern day world that is their attraction: the mystery they hold in not knowing for sure...

These legends are from Maremma in Italy. A land of rich Etruscan cities, of centuries long Tuscan fueds between rich and influencial medieval families, French invasion and Spanish rule, Barbary coast pirate raids, and a bitter existence from a poor and malaria infested landscape... tales indeed. I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have in researching them.

And nothing is like music for capturing the emotion of a time or place and Maremma has it's own folk song that does just that. Listen to these two evocative renditions and you will be transported back to a hard and unforgiving place that took lives young - Maremma Amara at the bottom of the page.


Elena di Travale
- the Witch of the Swallows

Elena di Travale: Strega di Rondini

There are some things in our history that just the mention of them curdles the blood, and the witch hunts in the middle ages is one of them. No-one was safe from persecution. This is the story of Elena of Travale, a young woman accused and tried of witchcraft by the Bishop of Volterra in the early fifteenth century. An horric tale that leaves many questions unanswered... Elena di Travale.


Pia de Tolomei

Pia de Tolomei by Rossetti

Legend has it that it was in Castel di Pietra that the powerful Lord Nello d'Inghiramo Pannocchiesch ordered the execution of his innocent wife the "gentiledonna senese", Pia di Tolomei, in order that he could marry his lover the Margherita Aldobrandeschi, Contessa of Sovana and Pitigliano.

Pia was forever immortalised by Dante Alighieri in his writings at the time, but was it really a case of innocence versus betrayal, or does the evidence challenge this popular romaticised version? You decide... the legend of Pia de Tolomei.


Domenico Tiburzi

Domenico Tiburzi

A tragic tale of a beloved 19th Century desparado - the Robin Hood of Maremma - who gave his life to help the poor against an inhumane law, or a murderous brigand? Hidden and protected by farmers, it took 25 years before he was finally betrayed and gunned down.


Margherita Marsili - La Bella Marsilia

La Bella Marsilia

Feisty sixteen year old Margherita Marsili - the beautiful "Rossellana" so named because of her flame red hair - was abducted one stormy night from the most beautiful castle in Maremma by the infamous Barbary coast pirate Khair ed Din alias Barbarossa the Corsair and taken to Constantinople...

The above photograph of the Torre Bella Marsilia is by kind permission of Dario Morelli.


Lost Gold Treasures: Il Tesoro di Scarlino

Lost gold treasures: the gold treasure coins of Il Tesoro di Scarlino - the treasure of Scarlino

Whilst the mystery of Il Tesoro di Scarlino - the treasure of Scarlino - isn't a Maremma legend as such, I have no doubt that as its story of its recent discovery is told and more hypotheses are woven into its tale, that it will become one over time. One hundred gold treasure coins.


Maremma's most famous folk song

Italian folk songs from Maremma, Italy

Maremma Amara originates from the beginning of the 1800's and tells of the impoverished life in a "terra infida", a treacherous land of bandits and malaria. It is sung on those special evenings in a Maremma restaurant or bar when the company is good and the wine has flowed...



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