Briganti

The Tuscan and Lazio Maremma has been a land of brigands for centuries. Banditry is a social phenomenon that exploded thanks also to the repopulation plan wanted by Leopoldo II of Lorraine with the reclamation of 1828.

The unification of Italy – 1860-1861 – caught the Maremma in one of its darkest historical moments: malaria, illiteracy, poverty, delinquency, exploitation of laborers, strong popular discontent. In this picture the banditry phenomenon, thanks to the population plan implemented by Leopold II of Lorraine in the historical Reclamation of 1828, which allowed convicts from other Italian states (as long as they had not committed too serious crimes) to take refuge throughout the area and live freely by repopulating the territory hitherto “unlivable” due to the sanitary conditions of the environment. The terrible bite of the Anopheles mosquito, carrier of malaria, was transmitted with extreme ease. Banditry characterized, together with malaria, the period of the bitter Maremma, painfully expressed in the famous popular song of the first decades of the nineteenth century (“Maremma amara”) which denounced all the rawness of such a hard and deadly territory. The brigandage of the Tuscan and Lazio Maremma was experienced by many locals as a “positive” phenomenon (contrary to what one might imagine), because it represented an act of freedom and rebellion due to poor living conditions and age-old injustices. The law, at that time, was almost always right only for the nobility and the wealthy. The greatest violence almost always occurred against the carabinieri, farmers, guardians, landowners and other figures who generally symbolized power and the newly proclaimed Italian state. A really hard period in Maremma.

Carabinieri against Briganti – spot between Scansano and Grosseto – La Tribuna Illustrata – of 14 November 1897

Domenico Tiburzi and the Maremma Brigands

In the Tuscan and Lazio Maremma the phenomenon of banditry was embodied more than anyone else by the legendary Domenico Tiburzi, also known as “Domenichino” or “the King of Lamone and Montauto” or “the Leveler of the Maremma”. After more than twenty years of inaction and continuous struggles against the law, he had become one of the most popular and sought after bandits in Italy. Tiburzi was much loved by the population who considered him a protector and benefactor of the poor people, his deeds were interpreted as romantic remedial actions of the many social injustices of the time. Many other brigands, besides Domenico Tiburzi, left their trail of terror in the territories of the Tuscan and Lazio Maremma: Enrico Stoppa, Damiano Menichetti, Antonio Ranucci, Settimio Albertini, Fortunato Ausini, Settimio Menichetti, Luciano Fioravanti, among the best known brigands.

Resources on the Brigands of Maremma

  • Brigands in Maremma – Overview of banditry in the Maremma area.
  • Cellere Brigandage Museum – Set on two floors, the museum offers the visitor many historical documents (of various kinds) on the phenomenon of Maremma and Lazio brigandage of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.