|— Comune —|
|Comune di Guardia Piemontese|
|Frazioni||Marina, Terme Luigiane|
|• Mayor||Vincenzo Rocchetti|
|• Total||21 km2 (8 sq mi)|
|Elevation||515 m (1,690 ft)|
|• Density||89/km2 ( 230/sq mi)|
|Time zone||CET (UTC+1)|
|• Summer (DST)||CEST (UTC+2)|
Location and language
Guardia Piemontese is located about 55 km northwest of Cosenza at the coast of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Its neighbouring municipalities are Acquappesa, Cetraro, Fuscaldo and Mongrassano. Guardia is an Occitan linguistic enclave.
The date when Guardia was founded is unknown. The name of the place changed several times in history. Guardia means watch-out or look-out and this name is probably related to a look-out tower built in the 11th century. These look-out towers (Italian: torri costiere) were built to warn against Arab pirates, then called Saracens, ravaging the coast. Guardia used to be called Guardia Fiscaldi after the local competent feudal vassals Fiscaldo/Fuscaldo originating from Fuscaldo. After the settlement of Waldensian refugees of Occitan language the place name was Guardia dei Valdi. After their suppression the name was Guardia Lombarda and was changed to its present name in 1863.
During the 12th and 13th centuries Waldensians arrived in Calabria fleeing from the inquisition in the areas of Bobbio Pellice and Torre Pellice, in what is now Piedmont. As of 1375 they also settled on the mountain 500 m above the sea which is now the upper town of Guardia. By 1315 Waldensians had settled already in Montalto Uffugo, later also in San Sosti dei Valdesi, Vacarizzo, Argentina und San Vincenzo. The local feudal vassals of the Spinelli family, being lords of Fuscaldo, granted them refuge. For a long period the Waldensians pretended living like Catholics, attended the Holy Mass, had their children baptised in the Catholic churches. However, privately they stuck to their belief, received travelling Waldensian preachers for few days in intervals of about two years.
With the successes of the Reformation many secret Waldensians came to the opinion not to hide their belief any longer. In 1532 they decided on their Synod in Chanforan (Piedmont) to confess their belief publicly. Thereupon Calabrese Waldensians sent Marco Uscegli as envoy to Geneva with the request to dispatch preachers. Thus the preacher Gian Luigi Pascale came to Calabria, who established Waldensians churches in Guardia Piemontese and San Sosti. The Waldensians in their traditional areas in Piedmont did the same. The locally competent Bishop of Mondovì there, Cardinal Michele Ghislieri, then initiated a crusade against the Waldensians in 1560.
The Calabrese Roman Catholic Abbot Giovan Antonio Anania informed Ghislieri that the Waldensians in Calabria had meanwhile also adopted preachers of their own. So Ghislieri odered the abbot to eradicate the Waldensian heresy in coordination with his local archbishop of Cosenza, Taddeo Gaddi. First Anania tried to urge the Waldensians to convert by threats. However, they refused. Having a sense of foreboding many Waldensians from neighbouring places fled to Guardia which was fortified. Guardia's lord Salvatore Spinelli (about 1506–5 October 1565) tried to make the Waldensians relent and advised Pascale and Uscegli to flee, but in vain.
Spinelli, who feared to be blamed for favouring heretics, finally resorted to a trickery. In June 1561 he requested for him and 50 of his men entry to the town pretending they would come unarmed. Loyal to their lord the Guardioti let them in. In the night between 4 and 5 June Spinelli and his henchmen popped their hidden weapons and seized the town with violence. By doing so and at further pogroms in the following two weeks Spinelli and his henchmen murdered about 2,000 Waldensians in Guardia Piemontese and other places.
This bloodshed is commemorated by the name of the main town gate, Porta del Sangue (blood gate), because it was said that the blood of the murdered flowed all the way down to it. Next to the town gate there is now the Centro di Cultura Giovan Luigi Pascale which shows an exhibition on the history of the Waldensians of Guardia.
The survivors of the massacre had to convert to Roman Catholicism. Marriages between spouses both of Waldensians descent were forbidden. Spioncini, spyholes to be opened from the outside, were to be built into the frontdoors in order to allow inquisitors to spy into the houses and check whether the compulsory converts really abstain from Waldensian traditions. Some spioncini can still be found in frontdoors. The Waldensian church was demolished. On its site, today's Piazza Chiesa Valdese, a piece of rock from Piedmont has been put in 1975, donated by Guardia's twin city Torre Pellice in memory of the descent of many Guardioti from the Piedmontese rocky Alps. The names of 118 known victims of the 1561 massacre are listed in a plaque at the rock.
In memory of the eradication of Waldensian heresy Salvatore Spinelli donated the Dominican church Chiesa del SS. Rosario in Guardia. In April 1565 he was created Marchese of Fuscaldo in honour of his deed.
- Torre Pellice, Italy
Notes and references
- 2011 Election Official Results
- Data from Istat
- All demographics and other statistics: Italian statistical institute Istat.
- Cf. Hans Peter Kunert, "Quale grafia per l’occitano di Guardia Piemontese ?", in: Quaderni del Dipartimento di Linguistica 10, Univ. della Calabria, Serie Linguistica 4, 1993, 27–36; Kunert, "L’occitan en Calàbria", in: Estudis Occitans 16, 1994, 3–14; Kunert, "L’occitan en Calabre", in: RLR XCVIII, 1994, 477–489.
- Ilona Witten, Kalabrien, 2nd, updated ed., Cologne: DuMont, 22001, p. 58. ISBN 3-7701-5288-3.
- Ilona Witten, Kalabrien, 2nd, updated ed., Cologne: DuMont, 22001, pp. 58seq. ISBN 3-7701-5288-3.
- Ilona Witten, Kalabrien, 2nd, updated ed., Cologne: DuMont, 22001, p. 59. ISBN 3-7701-5288-3.
- Anacleto Verrecchia, Giordano Bruno: la falena dello spirito, Rome: Editore Donzelli, 2002, p. 43. ISBN 88-7989-676-8.
- Ilona Witten, Kalabrien, 2nd, updated ed., Cologne: DuMont, 22001, p. 61. ISBN 3-7701-5288-3.
- Ilona Witten, Kalabrien, 2nd, updated ed., Cologne: DuMont, 22001, pp. 60seq. ISBN 3-7701-5288-3.
- Salvatore Spinelli 1° Marchese di Fuscaldo, retrieved on 8 April 2011.