History of Tizzana

"In the depth of time, thirty centuries or thereabout, the plains of the Ombrone and of the Arno were entirely under water which kept rising due to the constant rain. This is the reason why the oldest dwellings were originally built on hill’s tops and mountains. Vessels and rafters used to depart from the tower of Tizzana navigating across what is now the plain, which was then under 10-12 metres of water, going towards Montemurlo in the mountains of the same name, and towards Pistoia denominated “carratica” (passing point) as one could get there coming from Quarrata.

Until a few centuries ago apparently one could see mooring hooks at both castles of Tizzana and Montemurlo, at least this is what is found in the notes at the beginning of Celio Gori Gosti’s historical book on “Quarrata and its Environs”. In his book “The Land and the People of the Montalbano Pistoiese” the former parrish priest of Lucciano, Don Giuliano Mozzi, wrote:

“A legend, passed on amongst the people, tells us that many, many years ago on the remains of the castle of Tizzana there were mooring hooks used by boats which were sailing the sea that covered the plain between Pistoia and Florence”.

A legend indeed, there was no sea!

But many years ago there was a swamp, when the waters draining from the mountains flooded the plain unchecked and the stony hill of the Gonfalina had not yet been cut to allow the waters to drain. Once the Gonfalina hill was cut the swamp drained away allowing the plains around Florence and Pistoia and the current municipal environs of Quarrata to dry out. The first documented history of Tizzana goes back to June 1034; it can be found in an inventory of documents from Pistoia referred to as “The Croce Book”. It is about the donation of a house, land and vineyard situated in Tizzana, by a certain Rudolph of Peter deceased, to the church of Saint Zenone of Pistoia.

We have a further reference in 1099 concerning a concession of houses and land in favour of the Monastery of Saint Cassiano of Montescalari and again, a few years later, in 1138, Tizzana is mentioned in the context of another donation, and for the first time, reference is made in the related documents, to the church of Saint Bartholomew the current parrish church of Tizzana. The first political and juridical reference to the Castle (of Tizzana) goes back to the 1200. It refers to an even older constitution of the Commune of Tizzana as a rural community controlled by Pistoia. From the “Liber Focorum”, a census recorded in 1226, we learn about the demography of Tizzana therefore we know that the number of dwelling family nuclei were 163, all of them commoners and were divided in four chapels: - Saint Bartholomew, Saint Simon (these two were the most populated ones), Saint Mary of Colugi and Capranica. One can see from the demographic register some of the social composition of the inhabitants of the village; we know that there were 2 Notaries, 2 Masters, 1 Tailor, 1 Smith and “some one that comes from elsewhere”.

The castle of Tizzana was considered by Pistoia to be one of the main strongholds of their defensive system against the Florentines. And so in 1252 the castle of Tizzana for the first time was the theatre of a battle between the armies of Pistoia and Florence. The latter, in the same year, after waging a campaign of devastation on the enemy’s lands, marched on Pistoia itself. Once the Florentines had reaches Tizzana in June 1252, they lay siege to the castle but the besieged put up a fierce resistance. Not long after the Florentines abandoned that battle to give help to their ally Lucca which had been attacked by Pisa and Siena.

In 1325, Castruccio Castracani tried his hand by attacking three strongholds in the area: - Artimino, Carmignano and Tizzana, but only the latter withstood the attacks thrown at it by the military leader from Lucca.

From an inventory of the 1382 conducted by the Municipality Commune of Pistoia one can see that the castle of Tizzana had at the time “una rocca et una turris…et una porta cum muris merlatis circumquaque et aliis fortilitiis”  (a rock and a tower…and a walled gateway with merlons and crenels and other fortifications).

In 1402 following a restructure of the territories under Pistoia’s control, the Communes in the area were reduced to four, one of which was Tizzana. In 1409 the Statutes of the League of Mayors were published to which additions and modifications continued to be made up to 1721.

1523 was a pretty horrid time for the territories around Pistoia: the plague raged in the area and Tizzana was affected particularly badly.

The history of Tizzana under the Medici, during the period of Lorenzo The Magnificent, was anonymous. The castle lost its strategic importance and with it its military might, this had a profound effect on the socio-political status of its people. The most tangible aspect of this was the progressive disappearance of the fortifications which bit by bit were slowly reduced to nothing more than ruins as can still be seen today.

Nowadays one can only have a glimpse of the vestiges of the Mayoral power of Tizzana. We know that in 1772 it was ruled by a Regal Vicariate and that in 1838 the territory passed directly under the jurisdiction of the Vicariate of Pistoia.

At the same time, due to the urban and industrial development in the surrounding plain, the Commune of Tizzana was losing importance, and so in 1932 due to practical expedients, the Council Seat was first moved to Vignole and then to Quarrata.  The Council was still referred to as the Commune of Tizzana for a few decades but even this importance in name only ceased on the 30th July 1959 when the Council’s name and jurisdiction became officially known as Quarrata. Thus the secular civic powers of Tizzana came to an end.

The event was recorded in the Official Gazette. Click here to see the Gazette's official text

Today the village’s environmental and historic heritage is kept more or less intact.

But of the once impregnable walls only a few ruins remain around the restored gateway through which one gained access to the castle. Above the gateway we can admire the Crests of the various Mayors through the ages.

Once through the arched gateway one is in the piazza on one side of which is the parrish church of Saint Bartholomew with its tower bell that once was the castle’s sentry tower.

On the side of the gateway is the former Mayoral Palace, the former seat of the Council later transferred to Quarrata. Nowadays the Palace is privately owned. Where the fortress once stood, behind the Palace, there is now a hanging garden somewhat higher than the piazza’s ground level. In the same piazza one can also see a marble bust of an illustrious son of Tizzana: Prof. Cav. Francesco Colzi. Near the former Mayoral Palace there is a medieval well.

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