The ‘barrels’ of Tresanti


Between the late 1400s and the first three decades of the 1500s, the Florentine State experienced intense political upheavals, which often led to the expulsion of the Medici family and the establishment of the Republic. Montespertoli endured economic difficulties, devastation, and the passage of armies in a state of war, typical of those events.

Very little is still known about the historical reality of Montespertoli during the sixteenth century, and the scarce available information can be gleaned from the late 1300s Statutes, which remained in force with few variations until the mid-sixteenth century. From these, we know that in our territory, already at the beginning of the 1300s, there was an important weekly market where large and small livestock (cattle, donkeys, pigs, goats), wheat and fodder, chickens and eggs, flax, raw wool, and saffron were sold.

On June 11, 1943, the Florentine newspaper “La Nazione” gave great prominence to a discovery made in the territory of Montespertoli: about 450 silver coins of ancient craftsmanship, found in a gap in a wall during the restoration works of the Morcone di Sotto farmhouse, in the San Bartolomeo district of Tresanti. The coins bore on the front the emblem of the Florentine lily and on the back the image of Saint John the Baptist; they also bore the date, which made it possible to determine that the coins circulated in the first three decades of the sixteenth century, having been minted in Florence starting from 1504. The value of each barrel of 10 soldi corresponded to the duty to be paid for each barrel of wine produced, hence the name “barrel” assumed by these coins. From numismatic studies, we know that the last certain date of production of these “Carlini” coins is the five-year period 1524-1529, therefore the treasure seems to have been hidden before those five years. Interestingly, the third decade of the sixteenth century is a crucial period for the history of Empoli Castle and its neighboring castles like Oliveto, near the place of discovery. The Florentine Republic was besieged by imperial and papal troops; even Empoli, in 1529, was besieged by the Spanish troops of Charles V, engaged in restoring the Medici to the throne. Castelfiorentino was first conquered by imperial troops and then liberated by those of Francesco Ferrucci, the leader of the Florentine Republic. Empoli Castle fell on May 25, 1530, and for two years the plague raged in the surrounding territory, including Montespertoli.

Perhaps, in such a chaotic situation, a merchant who had arrived there from who knows where found himself in need of hiding and securing his treasure in the gap of a wall at the Morcone di Sotto farm. A treasure that he never returned to retrieve.