Breaking news! The Spadoni/Spada/Sandonnini tower is going to get a second makeover next year. After falling into disrepair for hundreds of years, the tower received a much-needed facelift in 2013—and now the Comune di Capannori has decided that was not enough and is set to spend another 150,000 euro.
According to an article published in the online
newspaper Luccaindiretta, the tower—which is referred to by city officials as
the Torre dello Spada—will have its exterior refinished and repainted again.
But beyond that, lights will be installed below and above, and best of all, a
spiral staircase will be installed to permit visitors to climb the three floors
and enjoy the view from the top. All of this was announced this month at a
public meeting of the municipality of Capannori.
“We are satisfied with the great participation
registered in the meeting, because this confirms that the Torre dello Spada is
truly recognized as a symbolic monument of our municipality and an element that
characterizes the Capannorese rural landscape,” said city planning councilor
Giordano Del Chiaro. “This project is part of the process of enhancing the
identity of the territory and its most significant places and monuments that we
are carrying out in view of the Bicentenary of the Municipality, which will
occur in 2023. The tower was subject to interventions on the outside a few
years ago, but the new project provides for a complete redevelopment. The goal
is certainly to preserve it, but also to make it accessible to citizens and tourists.
The installation of a spiral staircase inside will allow visitors to climb to
Me at the tower in 2015.
The tower is owned by the family of Umberto Borgioli, and he enthusiastically endorses the project. “We are satisfied with the synergy created with the municipality for the presentation of the redevelopment project,” Borgioli said. “Although the Torre dello Spada is owned by us, we consider it a monument of great symbolic value for the territory of Capannori and for its rural heritage and therefore of the public. Our family has always had great affection for Parezzana and for the tower, and therefore it is important for us to preserve and enhance this monument. On our part, there is the utmost willingness to undertake a path with the municipality and associations to ensure the opening of the tower at least on some days of the year to make it open and accessible.”
Historian Nicola Laganà also spoke at the city meeting, explaining that the tower was built between the 1400s and 1500s. I had hoped that he would be able to shed further light on how the tower acquired its several names, but the article only said he believed it to have been built by the Sandonnini family and that it perhaps later came under the ownership of the Spada family. Both of these families had wealthy and noble branches in the Lucca area during the middle ages and beyond, and the tower is located on via Dello Spada. Where the Spadoni name enters is not mentioned, but my own personal opinion is that Spadone was the nickname of a member of the Spada family tied to the tower, and that his heirs took on the surname Spadoni. I have written more about this theory in Is the Tuscan surname Spadoni tied to the wealthy Spada family of Lucca?
The tower is roughly in the northern area of
what once was the Lago di Bientina.
Laganà did offer some hypotheses on the original function of the tower, though that too is still a matter for debate. He said some maintain it was born as a lighthouse in a swampy area, others that it was a watchtower to guard the territory from the incursions of the Florentine army, and still others maintain it was an agricultural depot. Looking at old maps of the area, I believe the lighthouse theory to be most likely, as the tower is in an area that ancient maps show as the Lago di Bientina (also sometimes called Lago Sesto), a lake that no longer exists, though the land around the tower is flat and becomes swampy during heavy winter rains. An extensive series of ditches and canals rendered the lake extinct several hundreds of years ago.
In any event, and for obvious reasons, I prefer the name Torre degli Spadoni, and I’m delighted to see that it is being further restored. It has the potential to become a popular tourist attraction and is certainly an important part of the area’s history, even if we don’t know for certain exactly how that part played out. Maybe I just need to make up a good story about how my Spadoni ancestors saved the city of Lucca by turning off the watchtower light at an opportune moment, thus drowning an invading army from Pisa. I suspect that history already has a number of heroic stories that never truly took place, so what harm can one more do? File it under future projects?