History of Raggiolo

See Raggiolo guide for highlights and historic monuments

Raggiolo was once called 'Villa Ragiola', as we can read in a memo written by the Emperor Otto [912-973 AD] in 967:

“Privilege of the Emperor Otto in favor of Gaufredo Ildebrandi: In the name of the Holy undivided Trinity, Otto divine clemency Emperor Augustus deigns to confirm all the following properties: the villa called Agebiani and another called 'Pastina' and the villa called 'Nutinal', a manse in Querceto and the so-called 'Villa Ragiola' and finally the Court of Stignano" [1].

Origins of the name Raggiolo

The most accepted etymology derives the name of "Raggiolo" from the Latin "Radius", meaning "borderline". It is supported by contemporary linguistic studies, so the name would belong to the root name "Reich", "reiki", "rice", with the figurative meaning of wooden fence [2].

The traditional economic activities related to the forest and pastoral farming suggest that the etymology is correct.

Early history of Raggiolo

According to careful studies by M. Bicchierai, Raggiolo was already a Lombard settlement in the 7th century [3].

In 1164 Raggiolo was a fief of Earl Guido Guerra III, who was born towards the end of the fourth decade of the 12th century, while from 1225 the villa became a real "Castrum" [fortified city].

At the beginning of the 14th century the castle of Raggiolo was ruled by Earl Guido Novello II [died 1330], who lived at Raggiolo with his little court, stimulating the growth of the castle which at that time had about 350 residents. The Earl had a mill on the  Teggina Torrent, and he had a monopoly on all types of grinding, and three forges and factories for the manufacture of iron artifacts.

The Guidi Earls owned vast tracts of forests and pastures given in feud to the inhabitants. With the death of the Earl Guido Novello the castle fell into the hands of the Ubertini, then to the Tarlati from Pietramala. In this period, in the absence of a direct power, the inhabitants of the castle established an independent small town, which was ceded by the Tarlati to Florence in 1357.

The territory around Raggiolo was subjected to the Castel San Niccolo, which included the whole Solano Valley with Cetica,  Montemignaio and Garliano. Because of the very heavy taxes, Raggiolo rebelled against Florence in 1391. The repression was very hard and the revolt was crushed at great human loss and with the deportation of many people to Florence.

In 1440, Francesco from Battifolle, Earl of Poppi [who was born at Poppi between 1382 and 1387], formed an alliance with Filippo Maria Visconti (1392-1447), Lord of Milan, to disengage from the rule of Florence - he sent the mercenary troops of Niccolò Piccinino into the Casentino [4].

Many of the Florentine castles were looted and burned, among them Uzzano, Ortignano and Raggiolo. The castle and the fortifications were largely destroyed and burned along with the houses, and the population was massacred. But the inhabitants of Raggiolo rebuilt their small city.

The Florentine victory at Anghiari against the troops of the Duchy of Milan led to the final expulsion of the Earls of Guidi from the Casentino and a rearrangement of the territory which came under the Republic of Florence. The Casentino was turned into a Vicariate, located in Poppi.

The communities preserved the right to govern themselves according to the statutes approved by them, periodically reformed and approved by Florence. In the second half of the 15th century and at the beginning of the 16th century, Raggiolo had a thriving economic life, although not at the same level as the 14th century.

From the economic point of view, over the centuries Raggiolo was characterized by a forestry and pastoral economy linked to the exploitation of the great chestnut forests which reflected the agricultural economy.

Historically the main economic resources of Ortignano Raggiolo were made from wood products (wood and chestnuts), from breeding livestock (pigs and sheep) and agriculture (mulberry trees and vines). In the lower area of Raggiolo were factories for the manufacture of iron on the Teggina Torrent - the water of the torrent provided the power to drive the heavy hammers while the abundance of timber, for fuel, allowing the metal processing, then exported using pack animals to Bibbiena.

The present municipality derives from the union territory of the two communities, that is Ortignano and Raggiolo, in 1873.

See the Raggiolo guide if visiting.


1. See "Annales Camaldulenses", Venetiis, 1755, Tomus Primus, pp. 78-79

2. See G. Peirce, “Le origini preistoriche dell'onomastica italiana”, Smashwords, 2001, p. 181

3. See M. Bicchierai., “Una comunità rurale toscana di antico regime: Raggiolo in Casentino”, Firenze, University Press, 2006, p. 11 ff.

4. About Francesco from Battifolle, See M. Bicchierai, “ Francesco da Battifolle: un conte sotto la tutela fiorentina”, in “Ai confini della Repubblica di Firenze. Poppi dalla signoria dei conti Guidi al vicariato del Casentino (1360-1480)”, Firenze, 2005,  p. 11 note 46