The Robin Hood of RadicofaniHistorical Curiosities
The Robin Hood of Radicofani
Albeit not as famous as the one of the Sherwood Forest but nonetheless one of the characters mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy, Tuscany too has its own Robin Hood! The character in question is Ghino di Tacco, an intriguing and fascinating figure who lived in Val D’Orcia between 1200 and 1300. He was part of the Ghibelline nobility and was therefore opposed to the Guelphs who were ruling over Siena. The uncle and the father were captured and beheaded in Piazza del Campo, by order of Benincasa, the judge of the Podestà of Siena. To avoid the same fate, he fled and went into hiding and became an outlaw. Indeed, he wasn’t exactly a model of rectitude and was known as a bandit and brigand.
How is it then that he has been compared to Robin Hood? I'll tell you right away! In 1297, helped by some companions, he managed to conquer the Fortress of Radicofani. This is a really strategic outpost from which you can basically control all the traffic of goods and people travelling from Val D’Orcia to Rome. What did Ghino do? He would first find out who was going to pass before robbing them and followed his own 'ethical code': he mainly stole from the wealthiest and spared the poor and the students, and also robbed the rich as much as he could but left them enough to live on and also offered them a banquet. It is these rules that have led to him being compared to the Robin Hood from across the English Channel.
What does Dante say about him in the Divine Comedy? In Purgatory, Canto IV at verses 13-14, we can read: ‘Here was the Aretine, who from the untamed arms of Ghin di Tacco had his death’. In these verses the great poet refers to Benincasa from Arezzo, the judge who had decapitated his brother and father and who was killed by Ghino himself. He even went to look for him in Rome and when he found him, he made him suffer the same fate as his family: he cut his head off and hung it in the Fortress. If you want to go and visit the places of the raids of the bandit Ghino di Tacco, book our private tour in the heart of Val D’Orcia!
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