Many Ladies and Aristocrats lived at Castello dell’ Aquila. From Marquise Cleria Malaspina to Noblewoman Aurante Orsini, sister-in-law of Lorenzo the Magnificent, from the Marquise Fiammetta Soderini to many others, remembered in the names of the rooms in the tower where one can stay in refined ambiences rich in old time charm.
But among many Ladies at the Castle there was certainly a Knight ... a mysterious knight. Let's read here his story:
During the restoration of Castello dell’Aquila, under the floor of what had to be an old pig stable, the workers of the construction company involved in the excavations casually found, in the late afternoon of 19th of February 2004, some bone fragments.
The next morning, on February 20th , anthropologist Stefano Ricci (University of Siena) recognized those fragments as belonging to an adult man about 35 year old: it was, in fact, the finds of a human burial in a earthy tomb. He informed immediately Dr. Fabio Baroni of the City of Fivizzano, Dr. Paribeni of the Superintendence of the Archaeological Heritage of Florence and the Carabinieri of the Monzone Station in Lunigiana. On February 25th, 2004 the anthropologist Stefano Ricci (sent by the University of Siena) and the archaeologist Rita Lanza (sent by the Superintendence to Archaeological Heritage) started the recovery work, prepared by the competent authorities, of the human remains found in the castle
Since the first digging operations, the anthropologist and the archaeologist discovered a strange fracture of some upper teeth, definite but that happened shortly before the death of the individual. At 5:30 pm on February 26th , 2004, under the base of the skull, the earth returned to light an object of congested iron still stuck in the second cervical vertebra ... it was an arrow tip (this was the first guess) drawn in the mouth of the victim, which had caused the fracture of the teeth and instant death by sticking in the second cervical vertebrae. The radiographs of the iron object then made it possible to ascertain that this was a crossbow (verrettone) arrowhead , a very popular weapon in the 14th century . This idea was confirmed by scientific dating just a few weeks later, with the Carbon 14 dating (C-14 ) to which some samples of bone remains were submitted. The C-14 report diagnosed death around the year 1340. The bones were transported to the Anthropology Laboratory of the University of Siena where the findings were re-assembled, analyzed and are still being studied; the highest experts in the field have been asked, from Prof. Francesco Mallegni, anthropologist at the University of Pisa, to the team of prof. Vittorio Fineschi, Ordinary Legal Medicine of the University of Foggia. At this University, a virtual autopsy was created. Incredibly on the verrettone they have discovered, well-preserved, traces of cadaveric flies, recognized by entomologists as carnivorous flies that feed on decomposing remains of the flesh. This would credit the hypothesis that the XIV century man was killed and immediately buried, so that the crime would not be discovered. Anthropological studies have shown that almost certainly he was a knight, given the proper shape of the bones of the arts. Numerous were the conferences that took place in Italy and abroad with the subject of the Knight of Gragnola, starting from the first in order of time, held at Castel dell'Aquila on May 30, 2004, with the intervention of the Prof . Francesco Mallegni (University of Pisa), Stefano Ricci (University of Siena), Gaetano Pomara (University of Foggia), other researchers and local authorities.
All the conferences that have taken place and the studies that are still ongoing have given very reliable scientific responses to the dynamics of the crime, the Knight's state of health, his active life, but so many questions remain open: who was that man? Why was he killed? Why was he buried inside Castello dell'Aquila, right at the base of the imposing tower? On this mysteries historians are now investigating.
The tomb of what is now defined (also in the websites of many scientific and historical organizations) the Knight of Gragnola can be visited, after booking by e-mail or telephone contact with the management of Castello dell’Aquila.