Defined by Giosuè Carducci as “a pearl lost in the mountains,” Fivizzano, having prospered under the Medici, earned the nickname “Florence of Lunigiana”. Here, there were all the right elements to make the town the scene of great love affairs, and among all of these, it's worth remembering one that the Fivizzanesi recall with great amazement: Count Giuseppe Maria Felicini, who literally upended the tranquil town life.
“Count Giuseppe Maria Felicini was one of the shadiest, cruelest, and most corrupt figures that one could imagine, with a mind so twisted and a heart so perverted that he transformed every good sentiment into monstrous and nefarious expressions. He was one of those squires whose deeds inspired Alessandro Manzoni for his Don Rodrigo, without, however, creating a figure too savage.” Born in Bologna in 1624, he moved to Fivizzano in 1670, into the house facing the piazza in the parish. Living in a modest adjoining building was Bernardino Lemmi and his wife Benedetta Signani, who had many children: Barbara, Margherita, Ercole, Elisabetta, Pellegrino, Altea and Lucia. It seems that Count Felicini took a liking to Lucia and thought to make her his own, and so, on May 16, 1672, he knocked a hole between the two houses and kidnapped the young woman, bringing her back to his home. The event caused great indignation, so much so that the Mestre de camp received an order from Grand Duke Cosimo III to capture the kidnapper. However, the woman immediately declared that she wanted to stay with Felicini. “I want permission,” she wrote, “to speak and practice with the Count and with the women of his house as has been happening for many, many months, to the agreement, satisfaction and great benefit of my father, otherwise I will remain here, as I like and was permitted to do.
Many thought Lucia wrote this statement and for a few months everyone was talking about it in public, proposing the strangest theories. But around mid-July, rumours began circulating that Lucia was forced to write those words, and soon thereafter, all the troops in Lunigiana were brought together for an inspection that was organized by a captain appointed by Cosimo III. On the morning of July 21, Captain Cusani ordered that all the troops be lined up in the piazza the following Sunday. On that Sunday, the piazza in Fivizzano was crowded with more than 600 soldiers and curious onlookers. An old book by Nicolò Cavalcani recounts how, “a great quantity of muskets began to shoot at the windows of his house but no one came out.” After a few attempts at negotiation, the Count surrendered. They found four women in the house: Maddalena Manfredini, kidnapped from Bologna, two elderly women, and Lucia Lemmi, two-months pregnant. After spending the night in the castle in Verrucola, Felicini was brought to Volterra and locked in the fortress for more than 40 years. He died there in 1715.