Bandits, Beauties and Banquets at Sillico

Another mediaeval festa? Why not? Actually this one was not mediaeval but rather a renaissance one.

It was the last night of the 16th century gastronomic festa at Sillico which is to the north of Castelnuovo di Garfagnana and is certainly one of the most beautiful, artistic and dynamic villages in the area.

Sillico was first mentioned in 952 and was a free commune during mediaeval times. In 1492 it was conquered by the Estensi family who were Lords of Ferrara. The castle, some ruins of which still remain, was enlarged and the village was surrounded by fortified walls. Indside the walls are highly picturesque alleys and little squares. Just the spot for a festa cinquecento (16th century) style.

Sillico also has a very interesting museum with a history section and an area dedicated to changing exhibitions.

I was particularly intrigued by the collection of radios, radiograms and gramophones.

Clocks of all types, especially cuckoo ones:

Porcelain and traditional furnishings:

and paintings:

At this point all our cameras started giving out (batteries again!) so we must excuse the quality of several of the pictures, taken with a cheap mobile, of events which included:



Renaissance dances


A play

The play was based on a one of Ariosto’s love affairs. Ariosto was governor of the province in the sixteenth century and, besides reducing notorious banditry, (rather like the red-haired bandits of Dinas Mawddwy in Wales) began his great epic, Orlando Furioso, the basis of so many stories in the area including “Maggio” fertility plays (see my post at and extending even as far as the libretti of Handel’s “magic” operas like “Alcina

Unfortunately we didn’t know how the play ended as a lady in the audience fainted and the first aid team had to be called in.

No matter. I’m sure it ended happily. It certainly did for the fainting lady who was promptly succoured.

Sillico is not to be missed for it unique atmosphere, the high quality of its events, its good food, its exhibitions and the genial cordiality of its inhabitants.

It’s not just another “medieval” festa. It’s a sixteenth century one centrered around the time the great Ludovico Ariosto governed the up-to-now ungovernable population of the Garfagnana!


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