Hidden treasures

The Dragon of Santa Fiora

Mysteries & Legends

The Dragon of Santa Fiora

Guido Sforza of Santa Fiora, today a beautiful village in the northwest of the Pigelleto Reserve, was an enlightened administrator. We are in the second half of the fifteenth century and the Knight had inherited more a problem than a privilege from his family when it settled only a few years earlier under the Monte Amiata, precisely in Santa Fiora. Guido Sforza, however, had managed the situation very well, implementing good politics with his neighbours, he had even become a friend of the Pope: with time he granted a 'governing statute' to his subjects and had defended the lands of the village from powerful invaders, Borgia in particular. However, this is not the reason he became famous and beloved, but actually for a completely different venture.

Indeed, everything was going well, but the farmers and people of the countryside complained about a lugubrious presence in the woods. An evil, blood-thirsty dragon infested the countryside, the bodies of farmers, monks and lumberjacks were found torn, as well as cows and other animals: the 'cifero serpente', so it was called at the time, was claiming its victims. The peaceful serenity was lost and the events of the fifteen hundreds appear to be nothing but a fairy tale!

It was the year 1488 and Guido, fearless man and knight of these lands, ventured into the woods to hunt for the above-mentioned dragon, he confronted him and beat him, cut his head off and took it to his village. He sent half of the evil dragon's skull to Santa Trinità dei Monti in Rome as a sign of gratitude for the mission and he enclosed the other half in a glass case in the friars Convent of S. Trinity of Selva where you can find it today.

Does anyone not believe in dragons? You're not the only 'unbelievers'. From the sixteenth century onwards, the skull became the object of worship for the inhabitants of the area. However, scholars, particularly in the nineteenth century, continued to question whether or not it was a dragon that was killed by Guido Sforza. The answer seemed to arrive only in the second half of the twentieth century thanks to a crocodile expert: American John Thorbjarnarson.

Thorbjarnarson developed an interest for the matter of Santa Fiora and gave his verdict: The skull in question is of a Nile crocodile. Skeptics and unbelievers of the legend of the dragon would have been defeated if it were not that the scholar from Boston, who died in 2010 as a result of malaria contracted in one of his study tours to India, could not explain what a crocodile from the Nile was doing at the end of the fifteenth century in the area of Santa Fiora.

The legend of the Santa Fiora dragon still survives nowadays and the case containing the ‘dragon' cranium is precisely there, along the path of your exciting tour of Tuscany.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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