The Dallas of the Middle Ages


Mario Spezi
January 30, 2014

The powerful feudal Gherardini clan owns houses and towers in Florence’s por Santa Maria and the neighbouring streets, as well as land, castles and fortresses; but with varying fortunes.


It is February 8, 1303, a Friday, and during a battle between opposing factions in por Santa Maria, at the intersection of via Vacchereccia, a tragic episode seems an astonishing medieval foretaste of what is to happen in Dallas, Texas, six and a half centuries later. This flash from the past sends a shiver down the spine: the victim is the ‘valiant’ Lotteringo, a member of the Gherardini family, whose descendants in Ireland, the Fitzgeralds (sons of Gherardo), will produce another powerful twentieth-century clan, the Kennedys.


The assassination of Lotteringo, leader of the White Guelphs (Dante’s faction), who is killed by an arrow as he gallops toward piazza della Signoria, surrounded by his faithful men, strikingly anticipates the assassination of President John F. Kennedy on the morning of November 22, 1963, also a Friday.


Here, too, the killer is a sharpshooter who has been lying in wait with his crossbow and aims from above at Lotteringo; the fatal dart is the quadrella. The mortal blow tears into Lotterino Gherardini’s breast, eliminating him forever and casting a sinister shadow over the future.


Lotteringo Gherardini is buried ‘in a stone tomb’ in the church of Santo Stefano al Ponte, near the Ponte Vecchio.



This is an edited excerpt from The Dark and Bloody Guide to Florence, an e-book that takes you on an interactive journey back in time. Available from Amazon and App Store for iPhone.

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