In those years, when the Aldighieri became lords of Contignaco, it seems that one relative coming from Tuscany, precisely from Florence, went to visit them in the castle and stayed for a while. It seems that this cousin, getting lost in “a dark wood” facing the fortification, got inspired to write the first lines of a long poem, which manuscript got lost…
Did you understand whom am I talking about? Exactly him, Dante Alighieri.
Anyone knows that the Main Poet spent the last time of his like on exile, wandering from court to court, to protecting families: and it was exactly in these last years that he wrote the Divine Comedy. The manuscript got lost, but some researchers think that he himself could have hidden it in our lands. This theory comes from the fact that a certain Giovanni de’ Gambis, in 1411, copied one of the seven best copies of the Divine Comedy. He was a cleric of Borgo San Donnino, today’s Fidenza, and he could have had in his hands the original manuscript. Actually, because these territories are crossed by the Via Francigena, the book may have passed from hand to hand and be left in some of the huge archives of the monasteries of my Land.
Also inside the poem, there are some references to the Italian territory and some academics may have found some links to these lands. One should be in the canto XVII of the Paradise, when the poet talk about salt: the salt is actually a characteristic of the land of Salsomaggiore, and precisely here was passing once upon a time the ancient “Way of salt. It could also be for the reason that the Aldighieri of Contignaco were salt dealer in the town of Borgo San Donnino.
Another link comes from the canto XV of the Paradise, where the poet says the name “Val di Pado”: this place is not exactly located in Italy and they interpreted it as the zones around Padova. However, you have to consider that the Aldighieri from Contignaco were known also as “Lords of Val di Pado”.
The reliability of these theories has not yet been demonstrated, but many researchers, clerics and professors, still searching.
The fact that the ancient people of this place believe that the Main Poet hid the original copy of the history’s most famous poem inside the fortification of Contignaco, gives us smile. However, it also gives the impression of a legend passed on from father to son during the centuries, which truthfulness is not demonstrable, neither is its falseness…