Family history

The Florentine origins of the indomitable Ghibellines (Holy Roman Emperor supporters)

A large family, or rather a large tribe of Florence, with the talent for business and a dangerous propensity to participate too passionately in the political struggles of city of the lily, which knew of them before the Ghibellines extremists, and the loyal followers of the Medici later.

In Florence, Sassetti lived in the district of San Pietro in Buonconsiglio, and at least from 1198 as the name of nobleman Sassetto appears as a representative of that neighborhood in a document which ratified a truce agreement of mutual defense among all the inhabitants of the city.

At the end of the thirteenth century, indeed of the thirteenth century as they say in Tuscany, the Sassetti already handled thousands of guilders, derived from currency exchange transactions, rents of several warehouses and homes, as well as widespread agricultural properties. The Sassetti did not belong to the feudal nobility, but they were common people, in the sense of belonging to the upper middle-class at that time had economic strength and desire to rise up in the social rankings quickly.

Perhaps too quickly. In 1261 two Sassetti, Cecco and Ugo di Pepo, were elected as directors in Ghibelline government, as were Ugo di Jacopo and Gentile in 1266. so upon the return of Guelphs after the defeat and death of Corradino of Swabia (1268) , the Sassetti were among the first to appear on the black lists. Hunting and Jacopo were thus banished from the city. It was still a mild measure as the two exiles were allowed to be able to reside in the countryside.

It was only a warning of which the family was unable to capitalize. In fact, in the peace treaty between the two opposing factions promoted in 1280 by Cardinal Latino, the names of Jacopo and Gentile Sassetti still naively appear as signatories for the Ghibellines. Consequently, on arrival in Italy of Emperor Henry VII in 1311, the Guelph it wanted to ensure the remove the ghibellinian threat within the city and in the decree of proscription they inevitably included the Sassettis. But this time the conditions of exile were more severe and affected sixteen members of the family, in practice all senior members of the eight branches of the family. It was therefore farewell to the homeland.

Only seven years later, in 1318, on the occasion of a measure of clemency, the condemned could set foot in Florence, after having solemnly promised to maintain in the future "obedient children of the City". But not all refugees availed themselves of this concession. Only four groups returned, namely: the children of Banco di Sassetto, the sons of Frederick of Sassetto, Jacopo di Azzo and Guccio Gentile. The latter, who had been the hardest hit, perhaps for fear of further persecution, preferred to settle on the outskirts of the city, the Selve of Lastra in Signa, an area where they had extensive assets of an important Ghibelline family the Gangalandi.

The ostracism from political life became was felt for a long time, so that throughout the fourteenth century the Sassetti had no access to any office in the city government. Indeed, in 1383 the branch of Banco di Sassetto tragically suffered the full weight of the hostility of the new Guelph ruling group and violence of that troubled period of convulsions and infighting that followed the revolt of the Ciompi. Peter Sassettino fact, charged with "the destruction of churches, robbing houses raping women", he was sentenced to death and beheaded on November 4th 1383. The disproportion between the alleged offenses and the severity of the sentence imposed, along with a few sentences of the judgment that speak a warning and example, give clear testimony of a purely political one execution. This branch of the family will never recover from the blow suffered most and disappear within a generation.

Francesco Sassetti

Francesco Sassetti

Instead the family of Federico Sassetto began to emerge, whose line was to give the family fame and glory. With wise decision males of this strain they made reputations to give up any political aspiration to devote to their business instead as always: commerce and foreign exchange. They held meetings or were bankers in new markets and traveled throughout Italy and Europe, according to the custom of the great merchants, thus always trying new experiences. Between the end of the fourteenth century and the beginning of the next century, some lucky marriages did tighten the Sassetti family relationships with the families most prominent and powerful of the city (viz: Strozzi, Pazzi, Adimari, Alberti). Social ascent began almost unstoppable that would culminate in the era of the Medici, happy times and undisputed success that saw the family in the top alongside the lords of Florence.

A real player in the history of ties between the Sassetti and the Medici was definitely Francesco, son of Thomas (the branch of Federico Sassetto) and Betta Pazzi. Born in Florence on March 9, 1420, Appenna Ventene entered the Medici Bank, as an agent in the prestigious agency in Geneva and in just six years, took the reins. He achieved outcomes and personal achievements so high that he came to be quickly appointed assistant general manager of the giant Medici financial machine: Giovanni di Medici Cosimo the Elder. Promoted, Francis returned to the Tuscan capital (it was 1459) and four years later, on the death of the great financier, took his place immediately. An office which he continued to hold continuously for twenty-seven years, a clear sign of the continued confidence and esteem of his lords which they never lost.

For his part Francesco devoted himself to his duties driven by dedication and spirit of total service. Suffice it to say that when the branch in Lyon was in crisis, Francesco Sassetti, at the age of 67, did not hesitate to travel to bring his personal counsel and advice to the French town. The long stay abroad, which lasted for several months, and the effort made to avoid the failure of the bank took its toll. He died shortly after his return to Tuscany, 31 March 1490. At his death he left an admirable legacy, an example to follow and an enviable fortune estimated at 45,000 florins invested in equity investments and interests in the subsidiaries of Avignon and Geneva Tour Medici, in addition to 52,000 guilders in real estate. It is not easy to determine the present value of those figures, but anyway one can have an indication by virtue of the expense of 12,000 florins to support Francis in the building of the sumptuous villa called "The Stone" in Montughi . A perhaps excessive whim which tied up capital in an unproductive way that will weigh on the family when the family's luck changes.

In addition to the rich banker, Francis, true son of the Renaissance, was man of many cultural interests. He cultivated friendship with Ficino, Luigi Pulci and Fonzio, collecting thousands of volumes in his library and a large amount of rare books, manuscripts and miniatures. Lorenzo the Magnificent bought him a 67 missing manuscripts to add to his famous collection. While the enormous wealth accumulated by Francis during his life did not long survive, what instead tied him forever to the history of Florence was his artistic sensibility. A rare talent that led him to entrust to Domenico Ghirlandaio decoration Sassetti Chapel in Santa Trinita. It was Francis that conceived the structure and from the relationship between him and Ghirlandaio took shape that jewel architecture and painting that still adorns the basilica of the monks Vallombrosa.

After his death, the son Cosimo (1463-1527) remained at the Medici bank as co-director together with Lorenzo Spinelli, at branches in Geneva and Lyon from 1490 al'94. The same Cosimo, elected three times standard-bearer of the Republic, in 1515 was created a Count Palatine of Pope Leone X (Giovanni de 'Medici) who authorized him to introduce into his heraldic shield the blue ball of the Medici, with three golden lilies, placed between the signs L and X, the initials of the name of the pope.

On the death of Cosimo began the slow but inexorable decline of this branch of the family. It appeared the first financial difficulties and in 1545 it became necessary to get rid of the villa Montughi,it became a cumbersome burden for budgets and administration of house. It will, however, take more than a century to exhaust the wealth accumulated by Francis and other ancestors. Meanwhile, at least two other members of this branch were able to distinguish themselves with their works and thus give luster to the family and to the entire city. The first is Charles Vincent Thomas, Knight of Malta, who found himself in that island during the turkish siege of 1565 and died in the defense of the fort of St. Elmo on June 12 of that year.

But the most fascinating character, the most vivacious and enterprising that the Sassetti can lay claim to is definitely Filippo.

The Literary Spice Merchant

Philip was born in Florence September 26, 1540 by Giambattista Theodore Francis and noble Margherita de 'Gondi. His imagination would have been deeply affected by the stories his father told him as a child, of great geographical discoveries which in those days went on for years to the boundaries of the known world. The eco electrifying echoed those distant lands and the charm of which was wrapped around the mystery of this new human adventure became fact in the minds of the boy who, at first, seemed almost not to notice that the seed of the navigator was putting fruit inside him.

His first ambition was in fact to become a good writer. His father instead, according to family tradition, wanted him to undertake commercial activity, the "commerce" as it was then, making him learn the basics in the service of some great Florentine entrepreneurs.

Having reached 28 years, but Philip decided to follow his own inclination: threw away books and records and enrolled at the University of Pisa. For a decade, host of the philosopher and friend Francesco Buonamici, he lolled in that university studying a bit of everything from philosophy to the natural sciences, from literature to mathematics. He wrote a defense of Dante, a speech against Ariosto, The Life of Francesco Ferrucci and Comments to the poetics of Aristotle. He was also admitted to the Academy of Florence and then to the Alterati, both very exclusive literary circles.

Close to the threshold of forty years he realized he had achieved very little. His anxiety grew, and so in January 1578, accepted the proposal to look after the commercial interests of some companies of the Tuscan capital operating in the Iberian Peninsula. For three years he shuttled between Madrid, Seville and Lisbon, the city where it was possible to conclude good business, because here came the products of the New World and India, all in high demand in Tuscany.

The spark flashed one day just in Lisbon, while Philip watched the traffic in the compact picturesque harbour, with ships docked and departed for distant shores, the stevedores run up and down the docks, the animation of shopkeepers and vendors of exotic wares from behind the desks shouting their wares. Not to mention the swarm of people on the docks: thousands of people from places, races and cultures, but all too bustling to do business. It was then that Philip finally understood what he felt in his heart, what he wanted and had always wanted since his father told him of the daring adventures of the great navigators. He realized that his desire was called India and that nothing and no one could stop him.

After many negotiations with the top company Rovellasco in Genoa, he was entrusted with supervising the purchase of salt and pepper and other spices on the west coast of India, in Malabar. The remuneration was fixed in a thousand ducats a year, in addition to a payment calculated at around 1300-1500 ducats. Not exactly a bonanza, but Philip would accept any condition while traveling.

Set sail from Lisbon in early April of 1582 he set sail for Goa, but the pilot of the ship made a navigational error. In fact, to beat the monsoon blowing from the south, going up the African coast, the ship was to make its way to the coasts of Brazil and use the currents to round the Cape of Good Hope. Instead they found themselves just below the Gulf of Guinea, with the season too advanced to continue on with the journey.

There was nothing else to do but turn around and return to Lisbon after five long months of unnecessary navigation. Another, in his place, would probably have given up. Philip however, despite the family from Florence advising against it, tried again. On April 8 of the following year, 1583, he left for India on the same boat and the same navigator. The journey took seven months between adventures of all kinds, including a furious storm encountered along the southern African coast and the inevitable mortality of scurvy with its sailors. The November 8, 1583 the freighter docked in the harbor of the port of Ladybug. It was the beginning of the adventure of Indian Philip would last five years. During such a long period, always maintained contacts with Florence, writing to relatives, friends and grand dukes Francesco and Ferdinando de 'Medici.

That his letters, published several times under the name of Indian Letters, is a true literary jewel. For once, to describe those distant lands, not the usual missionary, merchant seaman or semi-literate, but it is a cultured and educated man, who knows geography, astronomy, botany and philology, a character full of interest and curiosity, a Florentine spirit witty able to convey to his readers the same impression that India was able to arouse in his soul adventurous. It was also thanks to his letters that Europe was kept informed about Sanskrit, the ancient Indo-European language spoken in India in the tenth century BC.

Hit by tropical fevers, Philip died at the Goa in September 1588 with a great nostalgia for not being able to return to Florence and regret not achieving another dream that he had cherished for a long time of going home via the Moluccas, the Philippines, the Pacific and the Atlantic.

The Move to Pisa, New Travels, Mock Battles and Real Wars

Meanwhile there started to be signs of life and restlessness in another branch of the Sassetti family, that was headed by Piero di Guido di Guccio of Gentile. For more than two centuries his descendants lived in voluntary exile and splendid isolation in hills above Lastra a Signa, near Florence.

Among these, Matteo di Niccolo di Antonio di Domenico (1505-1564), had more and more need to travel to Pisa and Livorno to follow their own interests to work. Like other contemporary Florentines he pursued indeed the focal point of trade and Tuscan commerce, transferring from the capital to the coast for the sake of the ongoing Grand Ducal business activities in an attempt to pick up the new traffic flows that were transferring from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.

After doing for a few years shuttling between Florence and the coastline, Matthew thought it was more practical to settle in Pisa. So he did, and already in 1536 it is mentioned in documents as Florentine Pisis existens. The final move in the shadow of the Leaning Tower occurred anyway in the mid-century. His sons, Saints, Pierantonio, Nicholas and Catherine were the last of this Florentine branch of the family were born in fact all the Selve before the exodus. The activities of Nicholas deserve attention he died in Pisa in 1598 and was buried in the cloister of the church of Santa Maria del Carmine, although in truth his career took place primarily in Livorno. Indeed in the city in which he conducted business and held the office of standard-bearer four times. A rapid rise, facilitated first and foremost by being called a Sassetti and secondly by being from Florence, a quality much appreciated by the Medici who, for reasons of clear political strategy, preferred to appoint its fellow citizens in key positions of the various cities of the Grand Duchy.

In a decade Nicholas rose meteorically: custodian in 1578, '81 estimator, treasurer (clerk to the administration of the Treasury Grand Ducal) in '84 and '87, senior clerk in '90 and finally in 1591 to the post of gonfaloniere, in '92, '96 and '97. His only son, Matthew, by Magherita Ciurini, followed for a time his father's footsteps. He is listed as a member of the General Council of the lands of Livorno in 1599 and then in the list of one hundred citizens of the community Livorno chosen by Grand Duke because from whom squittinati, gonfalonieri and the elders of the city could be selected.

The last to be created Pisan citizens, June 25, 1585, were Pierantonio (1533-1589) and Santi (1535-1588). Ottavio, son of Santi Sassetti and Dorotea Maria Simonelli was Pisanian from birth. Came into the world 28 October 1580 in the district of Kinzica was baptized in San Lorenzo. He unfortunately lost his father at just nine years of age and became an orfan. His uncle Nicholas took care of him and as soon as the boy became a teenager, he went, needless to say, to commerce.

Ottavio applied with passion in the art of his ancestors. He had just turned eighteen, who was already in Cagliari to arrange and manage important business interests. He actually had to be a good player if, Marcantonio Quarantotti, wealthy patrician who owned large enterprises to Pisa Livorno in 1604, wanted him as a partner in its home market.

Seeing that the business prospered and the company grew, the two, was 1610, decided to establish a subsidiary in Marseille. The company, which was to remain open for three years, was registered to Ottavio. The contract stipulated a third of the profits were due to Sassetti; the rest would go to Quarantotti. Things went just fine and in the agreed thirty-six months the agency realized a turnover estimated at nearly twenty thousand crowns.

In 1614, upon the death of Quarantotti, Octavius returned to Italy and was appointed guardian to the heirs of the deceased partner. In 1622 he married Elizabeth daughter of the noble Francesco di Vincenzo First, chosen previously in Pisa in 1618.

The activity of Ottavio guaranteed the family a prosperous economic condition and therefore a respectable position in the city elite. As for the trading house Marseille, Ottavio he held the reins until his death on March 10 1633. With his passing the Sassetti ceased to deal with trade. The times were indeed changing rapidly, and with them the customs and the way of life and behavior of people. The figure of the individual merchant, bold and enterprising, used alone to manage multiple business, open branches and keep contacts in the main European markets, had already started to decline, unable to keep up with the strength of the big European companies. Even psychologically commerce, hitherto pursued the same way as a science or an art, did not satisfy as it once did : in the past practiced exclusively, or almost, by the well heeled, was now beginning to be snubbed, and those involved lost social status.

Ottavio Sassetti

The nephew Ottavio, his namesake, understood the spirit of the times, he applied himself in other directions cultivating new interests. In 1690 he established the order of the Sacred Military Order of Saint Stephen an order of chivalry, and was thus the first Sassetti to wear the dress of a knight, a right granted "to his male descendants in perpetuity". A perpetuity which lasted until 1859, date of the flight of the Grand Duke Leopold II, alias Canapone, and the subsequent dissolution of the Order.

In a draft document relative to the order of Saint Stephen one reads: "The family de 'Sassetti comes from this city of Florence, where it often enjoyed the dignity of the Priory and then having moved to Pisa there still enjoyed and enjoys the highest honors and is related to noble families and possesses considerable wealth in the state of Pisa with which the supplicant (Ottavio, nda) deals with decorum, keeping a carriage and servants like the other gentlemen".

In 1694, by means of a complicated inheritance route, the Sassetti came into the possession of a palace in Via San Francesco, and so it was that, abandoning Kinzica they from there and moved across the Arno, to Tramontana, in the heart of the old city, where they have since had a permanent home.

As for Ottavio he showed himself to be competent on the battlefield in the southern states. He was a passionate supporter of the battle of Ponte. He also took part in the events of February 1672 leading the regiment of Sant'Antonio as a captain. For the record, the battle ended with the "peace" between the opposing factions, it is impossible to quell the riots that broke out between supporters of the two parties.

Even then there were still around the world bloodier battles than those played out on the Ponte di Mezzo. In a real war, against the Turks, Ranieri Lorenzo Sassetti (1689-1763), son of Ottavio became involved. He, as a good knight of St. Stephen, was in fact obliged to serve in the navy for the now chronic war against the Moors.

He embarked May 1, 1717 in Livorno for a naval campaign in the Levant that was to last three to four months. There were two galleys that left their moorings on that warm spring morning, the "St. Stephen" and the "San Francesco". On June 9, he reached the bottom of Corfu, the meeting place of a Christian fleet variously made up of: Venetian ships, others made available by Pope Clement XI, and others from Malta; even two Portuguese.

In all an armada of fifty wooden vessels under the orders of the Venetian bailiff Bellafontana who found himself in command a sort of copy, reduced size, the alliance already seen in Lepanto, whose vaunted victory had then had an effect so enduring, that it took more than a century the for the Turks to be a naval threat.

Battle of Passara

Battaglia di Passarà

The fleet of the infidels, stronger than fifty vessels among Tunisians, Algerians, tripolini and Barbary, as it were played hide and seek with the allies for over a month. Then, on July 19, almost suddenly, it came to the clash, off the Cape Matapan. The opposing fleets, arranged in two rows, were joined by around noon beginning to exchange furious broadsides. The "Santo Stefano" was immediately attacked from the team of Abrahim Pasha and three barbarian who made it the target of an impressive volume of fire. The collision itself was narrowly avoided thanks to the prompt intervention of a Portuguese prison and two Maltese added unto you to give a hand. The clash lasted beyond the sunset. Losses: two hundred of the Christian and "migliara", say the papers, among the infidels for a military operation then remembered by historians as the Venetian battle will pass. Arms put aside, Ranieri Sassetti returned home safe and sound August 26, 1717.

Francesco of Russia loyal to the cause of Napoleon

Francesco Sassetti (di Russia)

But Ranieri was not the only, house of Sassetti, to participate in feats of war. Even his nephew Francis (1783-1853), son of Louis and Peter Giulia Tonini of Furia, was snatched from quiet life of Pisa and dragged into the vortex of the great storm that Napoleon was carrying in the balance of the old continent. Francis, however, was not a passive victim of events, and even took part in it with adventurous spirit, animated by a passion for youth across the risk and action.

In his early twenties was already lieutenant of the bodyguard of Maria Luisa regent of the kingdom of Etruria, based in Florence. The September 20, 1809, by imperial decree, he was appointed lieutenant of the 28th Regiment Chasseurs à cheval, hunters on horseback, based in Orléans, whose colours were obviously French, but made up of troops from Tuscany. In that city he was garrisoned until 1811. Then the whole ii Regiment, assigned to the third French army, he was transferred to Germany, in Erfurt, and then deployed on the Baltic coast to Koenigsberg, to the left flank of the Grand Army of Napoleon, ready to start, in June 1812, the legendary Russian campaign.

The regiment of Sassetti was spared the advance on Moscow and especially the catastrophic retreat. He was still committed to countering the counter attack of the Swedes and Prussians that from December 1872 to the autumn of the following year pinning down the third army from the borders of Lithuania to Hamburg, the city which then he besieged. Here Francis remained until the end of the war, in 1814. Discharged in the fall of that year he arrived in Pisa in November. Unfortunately he did not bring back the splendid uniform of hunter on horseback, but it did have the curved cavalry saber, embellished by a scabbard with the Napoleonic eagle. A rare relic that the family still has.

Soon the veteran married Smeralda, daughter of Count Anton Vincenzo Sanminiatelli and so from being a mercenary and hardened by five years on the front lines of half of Europe, he fell in the most comfortable shoes of wealthy gentleman.

Despite his past Napoleon, the Grand Duke Ferdinando III wanted to honor him with the title of Chamberlain of His Imperial and Royal Highness, a privilege reserved only for high aristocracy Tuscan. But even when she went to court, in Florence, Francesco never stopped pinning in plain sight on the jacket its decorations "revolutionary": the commemorative medal of the Russian campaign and what Napoleon from St. Helena had granted to all its soldiers, à ses compagnons de gloire.

Within the Order of Santo Stefano, to which had been accepted in 1806, Francis climbed the rungs of the hierarchy up to the title of Knight Grand Cross, and held the office of Grand Conservative and Grand Treasurer. Since he was the last to wear the Stefaniani clothes by virtue of its dissolution of the Order (1859), we can say that the Sassetti ended in beauty their secular affiliation to this honorable institution.

But Francesco, very active man, he held numerous positions public, as governor of the Pious House of Mercy, Member of the Monte Pio, and Commissioner of the united Hospitals of Santa Chira (as recorded on a plaque in the courtyard of the Hospital). Among his many duties he also found time to restore the Sassetti chapel of Santa Trinita in Florence, on which the family jealously guards the patronage.

Dubbed by descendants as "Francis of Russia", he has left them, in addition to the memory of himself and his cavalry saber, the uniform of Chamberlain and the hood magna Order of Santo Stefano, and a vast collection of letters. The following are direct descendants: Luigi e Luisa; Anton Vincenzo e Giulia; Giulio Cesare e Cammilla; Filippo e Dianora; Ottavio, Nera e Lorenza; e in ultimo Filippo Pio e Alessandra.

On the coast, The Longing for Love

It will be convenient here tell of Anton Vincenzo Sassetti (1869-1916) who, in addition to practising as a doctor, had to also take care of the estate that his wife, Luisa Guidi (1873-1944), had inherited at Luciana, on the the hills,from her mother Teresa Rosselmini Gualandi. But Vincent did not like the country let alone having to interact with farmers and labourers. He was much more a fan of the sea, and over the years moved increasingly less willing to Luciana and he could be seen increasingly in Marina di Pisa.

At the end of 1908, with his wife's agreement, he carried out a project that that he had thought about for some time: to sell without remorse the estate in the country and, with a portion of the proceeds, buy a waterfront property. That done, for thirty thousand lire the Sassetti they bought a villa in the Piazza Sardegna in the Marina of Pisa, right on the seafront.

Behind the house there were also a nice park, green, pittosporum, Evonymus and tamarisk trees, a vegetable garden with many roses, hydrangeas and laurels, as well as an annexe called the chalet. From that year the Sassetti began to "migrate" from the city to the Marina in the early spring warmth, and remained there for at least five months, until the chilly damp autumn forced them to return in their winter quarters in Via San Francesco.

The coast at that point so close to the mouth of the Arno, was in those years of the century, was an oasis untouched by the unparalleled beauty, with turquoise sea, blondes beaches of fine sand and the thick pine forest soaked in iodine and salty.

As for the human presence, for years it had been limited to a few fishermen's huts and the five families of financiers in Fortino Medici. So much so that in the summer of 1872 the then Office of Arts of the city of Pisa approved the geometric design (first stage in the planning process) for the building of a "little station of bathrooms" to Boccadarno. Thus was born, under the auspices of the city council, the future Marina di Pisa.

The administration's idea was simple: divide that portion of paradise in many building plots, whose assignment - sometime in the future - would be done for free. A proposal indeed captivating, but for a long time not received the favor of Pisa's citizens. At first only a small number of brave pioneers took advantage of this opportunity by building a few buildings on the sea. As for the building lots, only 40 out of a total of 140 found an owner in twenty years.

The enthusiasm that accompanied the birth of the project was curbed mainly by the precariousness of communications with the coast. The carriage ride on the new road "Argine Arno" (today avenue Gabriele D'Annunzio), inaugurated in 1876, was quite fast, but those who did not have their own transport, and were the majority, had to rely on the company Cordon Brothers and pay up to six pounds for the ticket.

On the other hand the steamer along the river cost a few pence, but the crossing was a real adventure, and lasted nearly two hours. So, in the early nineties, the Marina still lacked the telegraph, the school and even the church, as well as a pharmacy and the doctor. For emergencies it was necessary to resort to the doctor who took care of the lymphatic Hospice Marine Boccadarno, built in 1887 with funds provided by the brothers Nissim, wealthy industrial fabric industrialists.

Under these conditions one can well understand how the advent of the steam tramway, the legendary tram, in June of 1892, really opened a new epoch. With just fifty cents being the cost of a return ticket, and with two trips in the morning and two in the afternoon, with good weather, thousands of Pisa citizens poured to the Marina in a couple of clattering and picturesque carriages.

The building plots sold like hot cakes: the knight Nardi Dei and the Commendatore Benedict in one deal acquired 45. They were then resold for their weight in gold to buyers of high class, like the Peratoner brothers, the banker Frilli and the Swiss millionaire Oscar Tobtler.

One by one they arrived in the country essential services and among junipers Arsicci and straws marine shore were opened Cafés and that immediately became fashionable. Not to mention all of the restaurants authenticity and sea air or the bathing establishments which attracted a growing number of wealthy Pisan willing to set up house in Marina. Among these Vincenzo Sassetti, who also struck by the tenderness and the charm of the place.

So it was to the Marina di Pisa, with its atmosphere and those combinations that enchanted poets and aristocrats (the poet D'Annunzio in the vanguard), landowners and rich merchants who flocked from all over Tuscany to the sea of Pisa. It was still a dream, as intense as it was fleeting. In the years of fascism, the regime, while appreciating Marina, will direct its gaze a few kilometers further on, by promoting the creation and development of Tirrenia, whose first design and urban planning was entrusted to an architect of the stature of Federigo Severini, the designer of innovative solutions and talented artist who conducted the most important public works carried out in Pisa at that time.

But in the Roaring Twenties, when even the original "little station of bathrooms" to Boccadarno was at its height, another Sassetti was bewitched by the fairy tale of Marina. It is Giulio Cesare (1897-1952), son of Anton Vincenzo. As a boy he stood out among all his peers as the fastest swimmer in freestyle. It was always him to win in the many competitions that were organized every summer at the mouth of the Arno.

His other passion was reckless the southwest wind, especially when the waves swelled making threatening and fearsome are looking at them. It was then that Julius, along with a few others, took to the sea in patino sneaking in spectacular slide on top of the waves. The power and force of the water was such that at any moment they could crash the wood on which Julius and his were performing. But the fun was just that, given that such recklessness was stimulated by the presence of the girls from the shore followed with undisguised apprehension the maneuvers of their friends.

Giulio Sassetti

Excerpts from real life. Happy and intense seasons. Shortly afterwards, with the outbreak of the Great War, the spell would dissolve. Julius was drafted in 1916, only nineteen years old and, like many of his generation, will become a "boy of the Piave". After officer training in Turin, at the School of Artillery, he was sent to the front. Lieutenant inexperienced and early twenties came to Gorizia a few hours before the Austrian breakthrough at Caporetto. After a week he was a man, already tried by the coexistence with death and the superhuman effort to rescue, in a hard retreat of more than 150 kilometers, the men and the gun battery that had been entrusted. Then the long months in the trenches of Montello, the battle of Solstizia, the Piave…

A trip in the woods

But the long holidays in Marina di Pisa not only revolved around the sea. Other source of entertainment, of balmy air and healthy walks was the dense pine forest that opened behind the town. It was so dense and wild that it was necessary to exercise with wise caution, otherwise you could run adventures like the one described by Luisa Sassetti, born Guidi, wife of Anton Vincenzo, in a letter of 1910 to his cousin Pia Bertolli, Baroness Carranza (cousin As both were daughters of two sisters Rosselmini Gualandi, Elisa and Teresa).

Pia Dearest, it is a longtime since I have had any of your news but I hope you're having a quiet period of rest at Castellonchio with your husband and children. We are here, are enjoing the latter end of summer very peacefully, children (Giulio Cesare and Camilla, author's note) are well and happy. We do the usual things: in sea every morning and walks in the woods, especially when the southwest wind that blows, as you know, worry a lot.

The other day in the woods we had quite an adventure. We left home early in the afternoon: I with the children and the maid, my sister Alessandra, the whole tribe of Carnelli with Mr. Alberico leading. We were about ten in all. Destination of the trip: the Arnino. We drove up to the shepherds' huts and here we entertained a bit of time because the kids enjoyed watching the lambs and we grownups, helped with the preparation of ricotta. We tasted a bit but, actually, being freshly made it was just slightly cloying. Then we went back home.

The children running in front of us need to have taken a wrong path, we have followed them chatting casually. After half an hour we noticed that the road was not the usual one but the direction seemed good to the Marina and we continued. After another half hour we had entered an almost inextricable tangle of forest. Then suddenly, and I still wonder how it could have happened, we found ourselves surrounded on all sides by marshes and what is worse had lost their bearings. We did not know what was the direction of the sea because the pines covered the sun and the marsh was in the twilight. Mr. Alberico made light of it but you could see he was worried. After much deliberation we chose at random a direction and following that we are immersed in the marsh with water to the knees and the children jumping happy. We were all splashed with mud and more devoured by midges. This painful marching in the water, groping around, lasted quite a while.

Dear Pia, for a moment I was afraid because I was afraid that night would surprise us in that situation. After much splashing around, it took refuge on a kind of island. A sight, with skirts and torn motose and all soaked with water. Then after much anguish we saw a distant light and we headed over there and walk, walk we arrived, we believe, to the little house of the Finance Director of Mezza Piaggia. From there then, after taking a breather, we returned to Marina on the usual highway. We arrived home in the dark in a "lamentable" condition.

A house earthquake and bomb-proof

It has already been said about how the Sassetti, arrived in Pisa in the mid-sixteenth century, they took a first time home in the district of Kinzica, on the side of the South.

But since 1694 they have elected their residence an elegant building - lacquered doors, pannelled ceilings and a large vegetable garden - in San Francisco, close to today's Odeon cinema. A beautiful and well-made, solid and well-built, it survived the ailments of the time and its pernicious mischief: wars and earthquakes.

On at least two occasions, distant in time but no less serious, the tenants of the building had probably fear the worst. The first time was because of violent earthquakes registered in Pisa on the eve of the mid-August of 1846. A fact that in cities and in the countryside led to collapses and ruins. Also they died of the people in general and the fear was great, increased by the repetition of the movements of the earth at a distance of several hours of each other.

A witness, so to speak "live" of those moments of anguish and apprehension is offered by Francesco Sassetti (the follower of Napoleon), that in the aftermath of the severe event wrote to his daughter Luisa, who was in Florence, describing the 'happened with heartfelt words.

The two of us are, thank God, excellent health despite the tragedy of the earthquake that scared us not just yesterday: in principle to start and then to wave motion very long and strong. I was at the gate in the ground and when I believed that they were gl'imbianchini who were walking on the second floor that you know well that stands (swings, author's note) but also when I felt in my hand the ripple and then the roar that seemed that the whole house falls I knew what it was.

Outside I found Smeralda (the wife of Francesco Sassetti, born Sanminiatelli, nda) with Petronilla (a maid, nda) coming out and embracing and weeping from the big alcove with my small crucifix and St. Anthony at hand. To give them encouragement put on a brave face almost laughing so your mother exclaimed as I were to smile, but the fact is that my courage and dissipai that great orgasm when they were both. We must thank the Lord with my whole heart of having stolen this serious scourge that at Volterra 14 detainees have died in the collapse of the room where they were. Serious damage, in Lorenzana where they died under the ruins of the factor Serughi and to Calci of Rosselmini who had gone to having a sick sister as they sat and were crushed. This morning they came to Santa Chiara from those places 11 injured and one died on the street. During the day we had aftershocks although smaller: one at five pm and one at ten pm A Smeralda seemed to hear a well after midnight that I slept in spite that the other two times I had woken up and he wanted that I was awake, which is impossible because I was dying from sleep. At home we only found a big gap in the wall of the kitchen window, the second floor, many plaster and roof tiles from the roof.

The letter closes by describing another disastrous fact: that the nearby church of San Michele in Borgo was ruined the whole time and you had just one miraculous intervention of divine Providence if the only three people in the temple instant Fatal They were saved. As the Blessed Sacrament, no worries: he was rescued from the prior diligent Camerino that had brought him in St. Paul Orto. The only gripe is that that night would not take place "the usual retention Archbishop; anticipated so great a disaster, and Monsignor had withdrawn all invitations".

But even bigger fear was proven that in the spring of 1944, when the city lived under the threat of allied bombing. They, above, were aimed at the bridges over the river, but the blow was not always accurate. So it was that two bombs took the direction of Via San Francesco: a center right in the villa Fantoni (on whose rubble was later built the Odeon cinema), which is the property adjacent to the house Sassetti; another bomb gutted a building across the street. The blast was so great to be able to uncover Sassetti building, making it blew it right off the roof. A great upheaval, no doubt about it, but even then the house remained standing.

(English translation courtesy of Mr. James Anthony Renshaw)

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