A short distance from Grosseto, Campagnatico is a small town that still breathes the air of the Middle Ages and its traditions.
Campagnatico stands out for its ancient connection with England, something its residents never fail to point out to tourists.
At the Colonne della Sabatina, also known as the Castello della Sabatina, Guy de Montfort, an English military leader, was tried for the assassination of Enrico d’Allemagna around the end of the 13th century. He also happened to be the husband of Margherita Aldobrandeschi, the noble family that owned much of the Maremma at the time. They had two daughters before he was imprisoned and while he rotted in jail, she went off and married another man, thus committing bigamy… it’s a long story!
The event is also mentioned by Dante in the Divine Comedy (Inferno, XII).
“He put in the lap of God / the heart that ‘n on Tamisi still runs” (Inf. XII 119-1)
Even today, this enchanting village is obsessed with all things Dante, medieval and British. You’ll find Dante quotes peppering the walls throughout its old centre and maybe even the odd international artist and actor, who flock here in seek of refuge.
Before he passed away, Alan Rickman had a house here. So does Gillian Anderson of X-Files fame.
Celebrities aside, Campagnatico is simply a beautiful medieval village. It’s so quiet and isolated on that hill surrounded by the Tuscan countryside that you can understand why its residents are so reluctant to leave.
The first traces of Campagnatico are Roman. The name probably derives from the custom of giving a plot of land to the soldiers that had distinguished themselves in battle. Campus Agnaticus meant ‘field to be inherited by the firstborn male’ and from that name, it’s a short hop and skip to Campagnatico.
In Roman times, the territory was mostly farmlands. Only later did they build churches for the rural populations. Today the territory is still defined by agriculture (oil, wine), but also tourism.
The village itself compresses a hell of a lot of medieval history into its old walls and has a bang up annual festival, where the various neighbourhoods compete in a donkey race through the streets!