Hidden treasures

The population of the Giglio Island among the Lantern and Mergellina

Historical Curiosities

The population of the Giglio Island among the Lantern and Mergellina

In Florence there are the Florentines, the people of Siena are called Senesi, in Poggibonsi Poggibonsesi and so on. But is everything really so simple? Who they are, where they come from, what are the origins of the inhabitants of some of the most beautiful and special places of Tuscany? At a time like the one we live, where the phenomenon of migration is so obvious and pressing, it is almost fascinating to look back and find that there is, in the Medici's land, an island that has lived real radicals transformations of its population for centuries. We are talking about Aegilium, the Island of Giglio.

Who lives today in the island of Giglio? From 1246 to 1406 the island was in the hands of Pisa, whose garrison controlled and expanded the magnificent Castle. Soon after, Giglio returned in Florence's possessions who did not devote great attention to it, to the point that in 1447 Alfonso of Aragon, to make it his own, had to simply walk onto the island. The new 'owner' took note of the bad conditions of the island already in 1448 and decided on a repopulation: he started a large migratory process and many Neapolitan families were moved to the Island of Giglio.

In 1460 the King of Aragon sold the island to the Pope's nephew and Giglio became the property of one of the most famous Siena families: the Piccolomini's. Immediately a migration process started from the Palio land and many typical surnames of Siena's districts are found in the island of Giglio.

The main misfortune of the island was, however, over the centuries, the constant assault of pirates and, in particular, those of the Saracens; in 1544 the most terrible assault in history was brought to Giglio by the notorious Khayr al-Din Barbarossa known as Ariadeno Barbarossa. The bloodthirsty pirate took slaves and took away 700 islanders. A few years later, the island passed from the Piccolominis to the Medici who, after considering the miserable conditions of the island, started another repopulation and removed many families once again from the lands of Siena, but also a large colony of Greeks which had the task of reviving trade and agriculture.

In 1699, to protect a coral field from the incursions of the Neapolitan fishermen, Cosimo III ordered to build the Tower of Campese. The thing did not last long: in 1728, in fact, the Neapolitans and Ligurian fishermen were granted the right to exploit the deposit and fish in the waters. As a result many Ligurian and Neapolitan fishermen moved on a permanent basis to Giglio.

Senesi, Greeks and especially Genoese and Neapolitans: the Giglio culture is all this and there are many examples. One of all is panficato, a cake typical of Giglio, reminiscent of the Siena gingerbread ... or some typical songs that recall the melodies of Mergellina. There is also one recipes in Giglio reminding us of the migrations and in this case the Genoa Lantern: olives in pesto.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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