There is a curious legend regarding Dante and the town name: After escaping from Florence, once he reached Marradi Dante’s horse was stolen. When he reported the theft, he was told that they were all gentlemen in that town. To that Dante replied with a witty play on words: “Sì, ma-radi!” [literally it means, “yes, but rare”]. Another legend claims he replied:  “Marradi, piantan fagioli e nascon ladri.” [In Marradi they plant beans and thieves sprout.]
In the Divine Comedy Dante cites numerous places and the people who dominated the surrounding area: Guido Guerra V, count of Modigliana (Inf. XVI, vv. 37-40), Ugolino de’ Fantolini (Purg. XIV, vv. 121), the Lord of Cerfugnano in the area of Zattaglia, Ugolin d’Azzo degli Ubaldini and the Malvicini of Bagnacavallo (Purg. XIV, vv. 104-105, 116), whose last descendent, Caterina, married Guido Novello da Polenta Lord of Ravenna, who hosted Dante and in whose home he would die of malaria on September 21, 1321.

In 1358, the famous battle of Scalelle was fought in the mountains near Marradi and is represented in a painting by Lanfranco Raparo: the battle saw the Great Company of Count Lando fight the people under arms of Marradi, who won the battle. Marradi is the birth-place of the visionary poet Dino Campana (1885-1932), and it can be reached by train since 1893. In the historical centre we find: the ancient Palazzo Torriani, which was built on the remains of a pre-Roman tower and is completely restored and is, today, a period residence that houses works of art by Galileo Chini and Silvestro Lega; the 18th century Teatro degli Animosi; Piazza Le Scalelle; the 17th century Palazzo Fabroni; and the Chiesa del Suffragio. In the Chiesa di San Lorenzo we find the works of the Master of Marradi, a contemporary of Domenico Ghirlandaio (XV century) and one whose style much resembles his.

Maghinardo Pagani was Lord of the  ROCCA di CASTELLONCHIO fortress which still dominates Marradi and the entire valley. The walk to the “Castellone” (big castle) is one that the people of Marradi are known to take often. It is an easy excursion suited to everyone: by taking trail 525, which departs from behind the Cardeto church and cemetery, located between the centre of Marradi and the locality of Biforco. Of Longobard foundation, in 1279 this castle was damaged by a terrible earthquake which also killed Maghinardo’s cousin. Passing first into the hands of Manfredi and later the city of Florence, in the 16th  century the castle was restored by Buontalenti for Cosimo I dei Medici. The Castellone underwent restoration in the early years of the twenty-first century; and it is possible to walk to the top of the hill and admire the Mastio, the keep, and the magnificent view of the valley.

Crespino is a small village in the Town of Marradi. It is crossed by the Lamone River, and is surrounded by very lofty woods. On foot or by mountain bike, you can travel the paths of the Apennines that start here. We recommend two paths, one north of the Marradi train station, and one south of the Ronta train station. The ancient S. Maria Nascente Church houses a 14th century painting attributed to Jacopo del Casentino, an artist influenced by Giotto.

Photo credits: Archivio Unione dei Comuni del Mugello; Sara Fabbri