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Home The Via dei Romei The Lamone Valley - Brisighella

The Lamone Valley - Brisighella

Since Faenza was located at the crossroads that from the via Emilia led to Tuscany, through the Lamone Valley, it is here that one of the routes most used by the Romei started out and it is well documented in written sources.  Very “significant” is how the location is defined by the Descriptio Romandiole of 1371: ‘stratam magistram qua itur a Faventia Florentiam’.

 

But there are also numerous testimonies from the Roman era of this journey: besides the mention of it in the Tavola Peutingeriana and in the Itinerarium Antonimi, the repeated presence of military names assured a continued use during the Middle Ages of a street whose construction dates back to the first decades of the 2nd century BC, after the creation of Faenza (which gets its name from the Via Faventina) which served as a link between Ravenna and Florence.

 

Brisighella

 

Starting in the 10th century, following a long series of invasions by populations from the North, castles began to pop up everywhere as centers of noble power (fortifications) which had, on a local basis, an important aggregative function.

 

The political-social and religious happenings that characterized the Middle Ages can still be seen in the forts, towers and castles with their parish churches, scattered throughout this area.

 

For the most part, these buildings were constructed on the rugged terrain of the Vena del Gesso (Chalk Vein), in order to make them more difficult to access.

 

Along the SS 302 Faentina, following the river Lamone’s course, you arrive in Brisighella.  This route was used continuously in antiquity, and its use probably increased in the Middle Ages as an alternative to the coastal via Flaminia, for reaching Rome.

 

The origins of this town are quite mysterious, but it seems that a small residential center existed during the Roman era in Brisighella, inhabited by chalk miners; the foundation of the actual town is traditionally attributed to Maghinardo Pagano, the greatest military leader that Romagna had in the Middle Ages.

 

According to legend, he was buried with a “vallombrosa” frock, that is to say he converted, something that many great warriors had in common, after Lancelot, who abandoned life on earth comforted by mystical religious inspirations.  Maghinardo, in opposition to Francesco Manfredi, commissioned a tower made of large blocks of gypsum, which would become the basis for the current Fortress, on a hill overlooking the town.

 

The layout of the urban center of Brishighella is medieval and is characterized by a typical hilly civil architecture, of which the so-called “Via degli Asini” (Donkey street) stands out; it is a raised walkway covered by a portico that in the past had a defensive use, then it became the headquarters of the local draymen who kept their donkeys in the “wards” of the town.

 

A few kilometers from Brisighella, along the Apennine leg of the “Faventina”, there is the Parish Church of San Giovanni in Ottavo (better known as the Parish Church of Thò), cited in texts starting in 909, even if the actual layout dates to before that time.  The parish church was called as such because it was located at the eighth mile marker (otto means eight) on the road going to Florence. Of the church, one of the oldest Romagna Romanesque buildings, the capitals of the internal columns date to antiquity and late antiquity, and were probably taken from some lost building in the area.

 

Remains of old buildings can be found farther along, in Castellina, where on the right of the road some traces of the Roman pavement can still be seen, and in the bottleneck of the valley at the height of San Cassiano (on a nearby hill, there are the remains of a castle conquered by Maghinardo dè Pagani).  More importantly – but in Tuscany, a few kilometers from Marradi along the road to the Hermitage pass – is a Romanesque bell tower of the ancient abbey of the town; the church itself, however, was remodeled in the 1700s.

 

For tourist information:

Local site: Terre di Faenza

Last modified Feb 02, 2017

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