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“vapor di Val di Magra” (Dante Alighieri, Inf XXIV)


In 1221 following the famous division made by Corrado Malaspina mentioned by Dante in Purgatorio VIII, 119 the hamlet of Giovagallo with Mulazzo and Villafranca belonged to that Malaspina branch of Ghibelline and so imperial origin called “Spino Secco”. In 1266 for a later division made by the children of the “Antico” the domain became a marquisate and strangely sided with the Guelfi cause (on the Nera side) together with that Moroello II who was the great host of Dante easily traced in all the main references of Dante in Lunigiana.

What remains of that stormy kingdom is the tower and the ancient walls, sleeping in a sacred peace, at the top of a very steep hill. The road has almost disappeared and the site is enveloped by a thick chestnut wood. In a place where certainly lived the “vapour of Val di Magra”, Inferno XXIV, 145 and his wife Alagia Fieschi (worthy in herself Purgatory XIX 142-144), the crumbling of those memories is the true cry of silence.

Giovagallo was not a small military garrison of Monte Cornoviglio as many wrongly believe because of the references. In Purgatory VIII, 121 Dante says: ”in your dominions” where the use of the plural is referred to the exclusive dominion of the Spino Secco and to his visit in Lunigiana, including all the feuds. Studies are being undertaken to trace the real urban dimension of Giovagallo in the 13th century.

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