San Martino in Gattara – km 71

SAN MARTINO IN GATTARA (hamlet of Brisighella, 242m above sea level) –This is the first hamlet of the Council area of Brisighella. It is a rural base with a population that is still works prevalently in agriculture, or commutes daily to work in Tuscany or the plains around Faenza.

The celebrated castle known as “Castrum Gattariae” was situated here. The “Castrum” already belonged to the church in 1192 that leased it for an annual fee of a silver mark to two noted personages of the time, Ugo and Raniero, lord Counts of Carpinio. Tolosano, a thirteenth century historian from Faenza wrote that at the time the castle was held by a certain Amatore, son of Ugolino di Teodorico, a rather bellicose character who, trusting in the strength of his towers, “disturbed the people from Florence, Faenza and other neighbouring populations”. In 1216, the people of Faenza, tired of his abuses, assaulted the “Castrum Gattariae” and destroyed the two high towers and adjacent properties.

Subsequently the castle was rebuilt and became the residence of celebrates people such as Fantolino di Albertino degli Accarisi and then Burniolo di Ugolino. According to Cavina, in 1289 the castle was sold to Maghinardo Pagani da Susanina who on his death bequeathed it to his daughter Francesca. In the fourteenth century it became the property of the Manfredi of Faenza.

In his census of 1371 Cardinal Anglico wrote that eight families and a castellan depended on the “Castrum Gattariae” receiving a stipend of twenty six florins and that it was subject to the religious jurisdiction of the parish of San Giovanni in Ottavo (Pieve Tho). In 1376 the castle was sold to Florence who handed the command to the Marradi branch of the Manfredi. In the fifteenth century the castle became the centre of conflict between Florence and Faenza and of Faenza and the branch from Marradi.

In 1506 the “Castrum” was occupied by the Venetians who strengthened it to make it more suited to the new requirements of the art of war. The territory and its caste then passed on the dependence of the Holy See and from that moment their importance as a place of strategic and political-military importance began to decline.

The church – The church (not the “Castrum Gattariae”) appears only in the “Rationes Decimarum” of 1291. It depended on the parish of San Giovanni in Ottavo (Pieve del Tho) and its construction as a place of worship dates to before the twelfth century.
Cardinal Anglico in the “Decriptio Romadiole” of 1371 describes it only as a “Castrum”. This makes us believe that the military and ecclesiastical importance of the place did not refllect its administrative role which may have been exercised by the nearby “Castrum Pellegrini” (Monte della Bastia that Anglico records as having eighty hearths).

In 1573 Monsignor Ascanio Marchesini the Apostolic Legate notes two churches at Gattara, the principle dedicated to San Martino and the other to San Giovanni and that the population had reduced to one hundred and eighty parishioners. A Hospital also existed in the territory with an oratory attached named after Sant’Antonio (possibly still indicated by historical evidence in the locality of Ronzano), not far from the current centre.

Piero Malpezzi

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