Ghino di Tacco, known also as Ghinotto, was an outlaw and a popular and pre-romantic hero in 13th-century Italy. He was similar to a Robin Hood figure as he robbed wealthy travelers on the Via Francigena, an important route for pilgrims traveling from North Europe to Rome, from the hill of Radicofani.
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Ghino di Tacco, the History of the Italian Robin Hood
He was protected by his impenetrable fortress and gained a legendary reputation as a fierce and undefeated fighter after a raid in Rome to take revenge on a judge, Benincasa da Laterina, who had his father executed. He continued his banditry activity undisturbed until the abduction of the Abbot of Cluny.
The Abbot was traveling back from Rome after giving Pope Boniface VIII money collected from taxes exacted by the French Church, he decided to take a cure for his liver and stomach (which were suffering from the Roman banquets) at the thermal spa of San Casciano Bagni.
Ghino, knowing of Abbot’s arrival, planned an ambush and kidnapped him, without harming him. Ghino locked the Abbot in his tower in the fortress of Radicofani, giving him only bread and dried beans to eat and Vernaccia di San Gimignano to drink. This dietary regimen “miraculously” cured Abbot’s stomach pains, and he convinced the Pope to grant a pardon to Ghino di Tacco for the murder of Benincasa.
Ghino was aware of the abbot’s visit and decided to capture him. However, he made sure not to hurt him. He kept the abbot locked up in a tower in the Radicofani fortress and fed him only bread, dried beans, and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. Surprisingly, the abbot’s stomach issues were resolved through this dietary routine, and he persuaded the Pope to pardon Ghino di Tacco for Benincasa’s assassination.
Ghino di Tacco: visit the fortress of Radicofani
Today it is possible to visit the Rock of Radicofani. Rising atop a basalt rock at 896 meters, the fortress boasts stunning views of the town and Val D’Orcia. Recently renovated, visitors can explore restored tunnels and enjoy local food at the refreshment bar. A must-see archaeological site in the area (check here the official website for more information).
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Cover Photo: Rolf Neumann | Unsplash