Brigands on the Edge

The tiny Garfagnana hilltop village of Sillico, sitting high on the edge above the larger valley towns of Pieve Fosciana and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana, has the distinction of being the home to one of the legendary brigands of the 16th century known as Il Moro. Every July, a Medieval Festival takes place in Sillico called I Banditi del Sillico al Tempo dell’ Aristo celebrating the struggle between Ludovico Ariosto, governor of Castenuovo di Garfagnana, and Il Moro.

When the area sought to distance itself from Lucca’s control and ally itself with the powerful Este family in the 16th century, Sillico was one of first villages in the area to recognize Este authority. Il Moro and his companions acted as mercenaries for the Este, but despite some legends romanticizing him as a Robin Hood figure, he and his companions were ruthless soldiers of fortune. Il Moro’s family house still stands in Sillico, and the castle at Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (now a museum) was home to Ludovico Aristo. History lives on and is celebrated every year.

We visited the village early one evening, just ahead of a storm. Looking out over the edges of the terracotta rooftops towards the Sericho Valley and the towns of Pieve Fosciana (just beyond the large terracotta roof) and Castelnuovo di Garfagnana (hidden by the curve in the valley).


The storm clouds gathering at the edge of the Sillico church – just at the edge of the deluge at dusk.

Edge: The Daily Post’s Weekly Photo Challenge.



    • This area of Tuscany has a huge number of festivals, many steeped in history. They are very proud of their heritage and people of all ages participate. It is an amazing place to be (plus all of the spectacular food).


  1. I love that country and the Serchio Valley and all its towns. A great historical approach to the edge. Amazing that Il Moro’s house still stands. Nothing like a good brigante story- bunch of cads, Once high up in the Garfagnana, you feel as if on the edge of the world.

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    • We love it, too. My husband is in search of more detailed histories of the place. He has Chris Whickham’s book on the Tuscan Appennines in the Middle Ages, but it only goes up to the 12th century. Il Moro’s house is one of the more elegant houses in the village, just behind the church. Being up there felt like being on the edge of the world, but we’ve been further along the road to a farm higher up – that was truly on the edge of the world.

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      • My brother just landed in Lucca and unfortunately there’s a festival on there ( one that was moved there because of the earthquake) so I mentioned that he should jump on the little train and head into the Grafagnana- escape the madness of Lucca.


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