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Pietralunga

The ''Palio della Mannaja'': the history

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Pietralunga
In a time when there were still some gaps in the juridical ethos it must have been no simple matter for the foreign guest Giovanni di Lorenzo di Picardia to find himself accused of murder, although he was completely uninvolved in the matter. Probably he screamed, cursed, went raging up to exhaustion, tried to claim his rights, but nothing could protect him from the death sentence imposed on him. For these facts he was forced to interrupt his journey and to cancel the pilgrimage to the Volto Santo at Lucca from his list of things he still wanted to do, because a person in a dark cell in the face of his own death sentence hasn't much of a choice. The legal apparatus wasn't so slow in the 14th century as shows the fact that the accused within very few time was brought before the executioner on the public place and handed over to his expert cure and his whetted executioner's axe which was destined to cut off the head of the condemned man. The executioner lifted the arm high in the air, his hand closed tightly around the handle of the axe, calm and self-confident, the serious professional man he was. He didn't let himself be moved by the desperate shouts and cries of the innocent (some occupations don't allow that), who had come from France and was bound to Lucca, forced to an unexpected stop at Pietralunga. It is known that the last moments in the life of a condemned man bring further agonies, endless seconds in which the life passes like a film and one repents of the sins and prays for absolution, all those sensations that normally a condemned man isn't able to communicate later. But Giovanni di Lorenzo di Picardia, the Frenchman bound to Lucca, arrested and sentenced to death, got a second chance: an acquittal, arrived just in time and obtained by someone with a certain influence also in juridical circles, protected him from the blade of the executor's axe, prevented the execution from taking place and with that tarnished irrevocably the reputation of the executor.
This incident is remembered at Pietralunga in August, when the villages and districts compete in the palio, where people push a heavy cart, which once was used to transport the condemned men. The event is framed by a medieval atmosphere with shops, inns and taverns.
By the way, who thinks that the background story was just invented by some joker can go and see the letter written by the podestā of Pietralunga, Branca de' Branci, and the executor's axe, one of the protagonists of the matter, hanged up and exposed in the Dome of Lucca beside the Volto Santo.
Justice's ways are infinite.
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Ornithology, the passion of Pietralunga - The Ornithological Museum '' Silvio Bambini '' is located inside the Naturalistic Oasis of Candeleto, and collect the present fauna in the Umbrian territory.... The_Palio_della_Mannaja_the_history_country_houses
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