Hell in Campaldino: re-enactment of the historic battle in Poppi, from June 11 to 13

The museum dedicated to the famous event will also be inaugurated

June 11, 1289, on the day of San Barnaba, the Guelphs and the Ghibellines clashed in an open field in Campaldino. It was a fierce battle which lasted only one day, but it marked the history of Tuscany, establishing the beginning of Florentine hegemony over the entire region. The extraordinary event will be remembered in Poppi from June 11 to 13 with the “Inferno a Campaldino” event.

Also deployed in battle was Dante Alighieri, who cited the episode in Canto V of Purgatory: on one side there were the Florentines and their Guelph allies, on the other, the Ghibellines from Arezzo and Pisa. There were troops on horseback, soldiers on foot, and each one took with him the weapons he had at his disposal. It was an important opportunity, one that could not be missed; Dante was there, among the Knights.

This fascinating story is told in the new museum dedicated to the Battle of Campaldino, housed in three rooms inside the Castello dei Conti Guidi, illustrating the famous battle and enriching other aspects of the medieval history of the area through thematic insights.

Special guests of the event will be some of the most important Italian historians: Franco Cardini, Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli, Duccio Balestracci, Franco Franceschi, Federico Canaccini and Riccardo Nencini. The atmosphere of waiting for the armed clash in Campaldino will be recreated with a didactic re-enactment in historical dress “At the castle waiting for the battle”, organized by the Scannagallo association of Foiano della Chiana, and coordinated by Alessio Bandini.

The history of the battle of Campaldino

It was thanks to the sudden decision of the Guelphs who upon leaving Florence, passed through the Consuma instead of the Valdarno, meaning the clash took place in the open field in Campaldino. The Guelphs chose to follow the most difficult path, but in this way they took their opponents by surprise. They found no obstacles as they passed along the road, the Casentino castles did not hinder the passage of the army and surrendered without resistance.

In Campaldino, 1300 knights and 10 thousand foot soldiers lined up for the Guelph side; the Ghibellines had 800 knights and about 10 thousand infantry on theirs. When the fighting began, the Ghibellines seemed to have the advantage after the first attacks. At that point, however, the act of insubordination of the Guelph Corso Donati, who led the Guelph troops, was decisive: he led the reserves who were stationary in the rear, and decided to charge their opponents. He brough them to his flanks and managed to divide the infantry and knights, causing much bewilderment for the Ghibellines. At that point, the Ghibelline reserves led by Guido Novello could have intervened, however he decided to retire to the castle of Poppi, taking away the troops.

At that point, it was clear that the Guelphs had won and they began a manhunt to take prisoners with them to Florence. Fortunately, a strong summer storm finished up that long day.

Dante in Campaldino

On June 11, 1289 a young Dante Alighieri was among the loyal Guelph troops of Vieri dei Cerchi. Dante reported many episodes of the battle of Campaldino in the Divine Comedy. Above all, the famous canto V of Purgatory in which he meets Bonconte da Montefeltro who recalls the battle, the mortal wound he received in the throat, and his last moments of life along the Archiano stream. Here, his repentance allowed him to enter Purgatory, and the devil, sent to take his soul, triggered a furious storm, like the one reported in the chronicles, causing Archiano’s river bed to swell and Bonconte’s body to be dispersed.

The program of events


The program of the event series organized in Poppi commences at 11am on Friday June 11, in the presence of the city authorities with an official ceremony in commemoration of the Battle of Campaldino in front of the stele that commemorates the battle on the day of San Barnaba.

At 3.30pm, the institutions will inaugurate the new museum “Inferno a Campaldino”, housed in the Conti Guidi Castle.

Short speeches will follow, giving an introduction to the museum itinerary, curated by Luca Giannelli (Inferno in Campaldino, the reason for a museum), Sergio Raveggi (Florence and Arezzo at the time of the battle of Campaldino), Domenico Taddei (The castle of Poppi and the castles of Casentino at the time of the battle of Campaldino), Alberta Piroci (The figure of Bonconte) and Massimo Tosi (Dante’s places).

At 6.30pm, in the Sala delle Feste, the keynote address will be delivered by the historian Franco Cardini on the theme “Dante’s century”, introduced by Federico Fioravanti, director of the Festival del Medioevo.

At 4.20pm on Saturday June 12, the “Meetings with the authors” event will take place in the Sala delle Feste of the Conti Guidi Castle. “The battle of Campaldino” is the title of Federico Canaccini’s talk. Immediately afterwards, Maria Giuseppina Muzzarelli will entertain the public with an “In the shoes of Dante” lesson, concluding with Duccio Balestracci’s “The time of war”.

Finally, at 11am on Sunday June 13, the writer and essayist Riccardo Nencini will speak on the theme of “The romance of war”. The title of the concluding speech with Franco Franceschi and Alessio Bandini is “Between history and re-enactment”.


For the detailed program and more information see: https://www.festivaldelmedioevo.it/portal/linferno-a-campaldino/

The history lessons will also be broadcast live on Facebook as well as on the Festival del Medioevo social channels: www.festivaldelmedioevo.it