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Monte Pisano in Toscana / Area  / Poets, Counts and history on Monte Pisano: Dante’s Pass
5 Oct

Poets, Counts and history on Monte Pisano: Dante’s Pass

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As many of you know Monte Pisano is crisscrossed by many paths and trails, in the past the only roads connecting Lucca to Pisa.

Among these there is one that takes its name from Dante Alighieri, the most important and well-known poet of Italy. It’s called Dante’s Pass, a beautiful scenic spot overlooking Pisa and the coastline and from which many paths, of varying length and difficulty, depart.

But let’s get back to Dante…

“Questi pareva a me maestro e donno,
cacciando il lupo e lupicini al monte
per che i Pisan veder Lucca non ponno.”

“This one appeared to me as lord and master,
Hunting the wolf and whelps upon the mountain
For which the Pisans cannot Lucca see.”

This passage is contained in the 33rd canto of the Divine Comedy, verses 28-30 and report the dialogue that Dante, accompanied by the ever-present Virgil, has with Ugolino di Guelfo della Gherardesca, Count of Donoratico, in the circle of traitors. These verses refer to the Count’s premonitory dream which foretold his fate.

Indeed, after the defeat in the Battle of Meloria in 1285, the Count seized command of the Signoria of Pisa with the title of Podestà. To free himself from the vise of the league of the cities Lucca, Florence and Genova against Pisa he was forced to concede the castles of Ripafratta, Bientina and Viareggio to Lucca and the castles of Fucecchio, Santa Maria a Monte, Castelfranco and Montecavoli to Florence.

Highly strategic fortresses which immensely weakened Pisa’s defences.

All these manoeuvres, albeit strategic, did not endear him to the people of Pisa and he found himself having to watch his back from both his nephew and the Archbishop of Pisa, Bishop Ruggieri.

Premonitions and the Count’s last days

In the end the Count, just like his dream had foretold, ended up locked away in a tower with some of his children without food, dying of starvation a week later.

There are different versions about the last days of the Count, among which Dante’s, where in would seem that the Count ate his children to hold out as long as possible and that the children themselves entreated him to do so. This version has been refuted by studies carried out on the bodies found in the tower.

If you go to Dante’s Pass you will find a plaque engraved with these verses and a breathtaking view.

How to reach Dante’s Pass

– Hiking path from San Giuliano Terme: just before the tunnel there is the restaurant “Il Foro”. The path begins behind the restaurant.
– From Santa Maria del Giudice: you can park your car directly at the Pass and from there take the CAI paths.

In closing, a tasty suggestion…

When you are in this area I highly recommend a visit to the Norcineria di Renato Bullentini, in Santa Maria del Giudice, not far from the road leading up to the Pass.
Here can buy excellent cured meats and sandwiches to eat during the walk or stop off on way back!

When you are in this area I highly recommend a visit to the Norcineria di Renato Bullentini, in Santa Maria del Giudice, not far from the road leading up to the Pass.

Here can buy excellent cured meats and sandwiches to eat during the walk or stop off on way back!

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Pietro Pestarini

Travelling is my constant passion and companion, in addition to sports, motorbikes and good food. I am an ex-chef and, after years spent in the kitchen, I decided to reinvent myself and to study Tourism and Marketing, which led me to Montepisano Store. I hope you enjoy reading my experiences, because they are authentic and first-hand.

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