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The Fortress

The epic decade and the realization of the "Fortress"

The "picturesque building", commissioned by Niccolò Puccini on a pre-existing farmhouse setting, in the absence of certain documents, is dated around the 1930s on the basis of epistolary references and historical and cultural contingencies. In the "epic" decade (1820-1830), dear to Stendhal for "the Italian ardor", the reactionary and pro-Austrian ambitions in the Grand-ducal Tuscany of the Restoration were counterbalanced by the moderate and autonomist politics of the ministers Vittorio Fossombroni and Neri Corsini. In the meantime, the formation of liberal and democratic tendencies was emerging. The former would have predominated in Florence around the "circle" of Vieusseux and the "Anthology", which is an example of a new "philosophical and technical" culture open to trade with the most advanced Italian and European literature, to which no stranger would have remained. Niccolò Puccini. The democratic needs, instead, prevailed in Livorno with Bini, Guerrazzi, the "Indicatore livornese" and among the students of the University of Pisa thanks to the teaching of Centofanti and the proselytism of Montanelli, creating the welding with the Mazzini movement of the Giovine Italia, as well as with utopian and reformist socialism.


Puccini training

For Puccini, he was the sole heir to a huge patrimony - after his brother Domenico's death in 1824 - and the family tradition of culture and artistic patronage (just think of uncle Tommaso Puccini from the late eighteenth century director of the Florentine "Real Gallery"), the decade coincided with the period of greater separation from the grand-ducal power and with the completion of its formation. To this end the "ortisiano" trip to Italy was decisive, connecting it with Pietro Giordani and the 1826 European tour, above all due to ideological and figurative influences reported from the English experience. In England Puccini was attracted by a civilization assumed to guarantee an enlightened order and justice, while he was fascinated by the art of English gardens. It was also important for the liberal tendencies, the Florentine frequentation of Giovan Battista Niccolini and the "circle" of Vieusseux during the winter months. Finally, Puccini established a friendship with Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi - a character of democratic tendencies - together with a cultural and artistic collaboration witnessed by an important epistolary.


The Risorgimento in the Parco Puccini

To enable the Puccinian realization of the Romantic Park of Scornio as "melting pot of the national culture of the Risorgimento" (Sisi), besides the youthful sympathies for the American Independence and the struggle of the Greek people against the Turkish domination, intervened the work of organizer of the Pistoia culture around the group of friends and collaborators of the "Scornio club" especially with the creation of the Society of Parental Honors to the Great Italians. The public celebrative intent of the great Italian writers, artists and scientists consisted in "comforting the tired virtues of those present, reminding them of the happy daring of the past".


The Fortress and its interior

The construction of the Gothic Castle or Fortezza al Lago is part of this same civil and patriotic intent. To the nostalgia of the neoclassical buildings (the Temple of Pythagoras, the Pantheon) happened the "picturesque factories" of the Gothic Castle and the Romitorio, inspired by the European medieval revival (by the English Walter Scott, Walpole, Barry, Pugin, to the German Schinckel) or the sixteenth-century challenge between Italians and foreigners of the novel by Massimo d'Azeglio (Ettore Fieramosca or the challenge of Barletta, 1833) and the last defense of the Florentine people's freedom in the Siege of Florence, published by Guerrazzi in 1936. The busts of two anti-heroes heroes, Pier Capponi and Filippo Strozzi, bear witness to this in the frontal niches of the neo-gothic entrance in the "Fortezza". Without a doubt, in the gallery of magnates, frescoed by Ferdinando Marini and Bartolomeo Valiani in the neo-gothic entrance and foyer of the "Castello", there are the lay-ghibelline suggestions of Giovati Battista Niccolini, author of the tragic mythographies of Arnaldo and Francesco Domenico Guerrazzi, not to mention the assumption, made his own, of the lessons of Alfieri, Foscolo and of the Leopardi Civil Songs. Not by chance, in the Gothic gallery of the Castruccio, Uguccione, Farinata, Carmagnola, Giovanni delle Bande Nere, Pier Capponi and Filippo Strozzi, the emblematic characters of the Renaissance were tasked with suggesting the opposition to tyranny. In the same way, in the monument to Francesco Ferrucci erected near the castle, in parallel with the symbolic intent of the novel by Guerrazzi, the liberty of the Florentine people was exalted during the short republican space, protected by Savonarola and defended by a handful of heroes . Moreover, the confirmation, that the "bizarre and at the same time modern fabric [...] embellished by the character of the ornament which is in imitation of the so-called Feudal Gothic" (Estimating appraisal of the possession of Scornio, 1859), still offers " tastes of several centuries of ferocity and of value, of wars and of freedom, of love and energy "is obtained not only from the letter of Luigi Leoni of 1830, but from the same turreted and crenellated structure to the Ghibelline, sprinkled with coats of arms of the common It is also dominated by the dominant red color in the fourteenth-century decorations of the neo-Gothic interiors, in a figurative contrast with the white stuccoes of the "Pompeian bath" and the neoclassical "white room". If then to the abstract, ideal world of a time that was, is added the concrete one of the woods that give a fleeting chromatic feast culminating in the summer of "San Martino", it is evident that we are facing another unique place to be enhanced and make known of this Italy, one of the most beautiful countries in the world that Puccini intended to revive, at least in the form of myths and exemplary stories, in one of the dark periods of our national affair.