The second of the “Three common”, located on the crest of a spine running parallel to the sea. And ‘animated by lively activities and village has a theater of the last century. In the older part still shows traces of the earthquake of 1846.

The name Guardistallo before Gualdistallo is of undoubted Lombard origin. The first human settlements, documented by archaeological finds, have been traced back to the prehistoric period. Finds axes and knives of stone and bronze, burials took place according to the rite of interment in a crouched position, testify to a human presence Guardistallo 4-5 thousand years before Christ. The finds are in the prehistoric section of the Archaeological Museum of Florence.

The castle of Guardistallo was under the dominion of the Counts of Gherardesca, branch Montescudaio, about the year one thousand until the fall of the Republic of Pisa in Florence in 1406, when it became a municipality. The statutes were drawn up together with those of Montescudaio and earned for both countries, many magistrates were unique. In 1447, like many other castles of the Val di Cecina, was occupied by the troops of Alfonso of Aragon, King of Naples, which destroyed most of the houses and buildings. However, remained standing in the keep of the castle of Auditors, which was shot down only by the earthquake of 1846.

Missing news on the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, we only know that in 1551 Guardistallo had 428 inhabitants.

In 1739 the territory was incorporated in the estate of the Marquis Carlo Ginori composed of the territories of Cecina, Riparbclla, Farmhouse and part of Bibbona.In those years from the coastal plain spread malaria that made many victims, including in countries hills and thick woods that prevented ventilation contributed to aggravate the situation. In 1742, the Targioni Tozzetti visited the country and described it thus: “Guardistallo was already huge castle, but today has suffered a lot and there are many ruins […]. Has the nearby woods and has very good water. He is, however, true that anyone who does not have to beat the plain in the Summer, you bell and very healthy. “From the coastal plain in fact spread malaria that made many victims, including in countries hills and thick woods that prevented the ventilation were aggravating the disease. In 1745 Guardistallo had 415 inhabitants and was not increased compared to 200 years ago, but even that had suffered sharp decline of the population that is found in many other towns in the area at this time.

After the dissolution of the feudal system and the redistribution of land in the sphere of agrarian reform Leopoldina is also formed in Guardistallo, starting from 1776, a new class of wealthy landowners who favored the development of agriculture and subsequent growth of the country in Guardistallo 1833 had 1,140 inhabitants.

On 14 August 1846 the countries of the Tuscan coast were struck by a violent earthquake that struck in a few moments houses, palaces, churches and towers. Much of the medieval castles in the area between Casale, Volterra and Pisa was destroyed on that occasion. Guardistallo, along with Orciano VaI in Tora, was the country that reported the most damage. 70% of homes were destroyed and part of the castle, the highest in the country, was completely ruined: the keep of the castle with surrounding homes, the church with the bell tower and the cemetery were reduced to a pile of rubble. 117 families were left homeless.

In his book Story of Tremoto, published in Pisa in the same 1846 Leopoldo Pilla describes the situation of the country: “When you say that the earthquake of 14 August reduced the country of Guardistallo into a heap of ruins, nothing left to add. Not a house, not a roof was almost saved by the whirlwind that art does not demolish. […) And yet, in the midst of such upheaval, among many extended mine that country does not matter that the death of an only child. Amazing what! […] The huts were badly costrutte from top to bottom nabissate. […] The (Franceschi home) had all the boxes in front of the wall collapsed and strapiombato in its upper part in a frightful manner, but standing. […] A young man gave Guardistallo have proof of great courage in the occasion that you had appuntellare that wall to prevent its fall to finish smashing the neighboring houses.

After the earthquake there is a phase of reconstruction and expansion of the country. In 1870 the new church was built on the side of the town facing the sea and almost contemporary is the construction of Villa Elena, residential house of Marchionneschi, one of the most important families of Guardistallo. In 1883 they built the Marchionneschi even a theater, a place of recreation for the rich families of the district and the expression of their wealth. E ‘with reference to these times and reminder of the elegance of the life of his lords, that Guardistallo was also called “the little Paris” and its inhabitants were known as “Longstocking”.

At the end of World War II, in 1944, the retreating German army put in place a fierce retaliation in response to guerrilla actions that took place in the area. Sixty-three people, including women, boys, many of the displaced and the mayor, elected just the day before, were captured, brought out of the country and shot. A second massacre of another 120 people were prevented at the last moment only by the courageous intervention of the parish priest, Don Bunch Rafanelli. The site of the massacre, along the road to Cecina, is marked by a memorial and the day of the massacre, on June 29, is commemorated every year with a procession. Ever since the war the number of the inhabitants of Guardistallo is declining and the last census fell below the threshold of 1,000: 936 souls from country to campaign against 1,002 in 1981.Oggi the country is geared mainly towards tourism.


Taken from the Guide to the Val di Cecina, curated by Susanne Mordhorst, New Image Publishing

June 28, 2021