Chapter #1

The thief who found a bear instead of a pig

It is said that once, a certain Cini, son of Palle di Mescuglio and the head of a handful of thieves in Ponsacco, got it into his mind to raid a stable to steal a pig. Everything seemed in order before destiny played her role with the appearance of a charlatan with his bear with which he travelled to fairs and markets. The jester asked the farmer for accommodation and hospitality which the farmer gave. He thought it wiser to put the bear into the stable instead of the pig…you might already see where this is going. The thieves of Ponsacco entered the stable and found the ferocious beast in front of them, disfiguring poor Cini with his giant paw. The stunt had another consequence when the inhabitants of Pontedera came to hear of it. They began to mercilessly mock all those from Ponsacco, calling them rubaorsi, literally meaning 'bear robbers' but implying their clumsiness. Their prompt answer was to say “Better rubaorsi than cisposi”, meaning 'bleary', referring to the fact that Pontedera was often immersed in fog. The story continues today, with some small variations and the same exchange of words can be heard during competitions between the two places.

Chapter #2

The legend of the Appiano bell

The historic bell was cast in 1372 by the noble notary Jacopo Appiano, which he then donated to his parish. Today, it is preserved in the Baptistery of Ponsacco. It bears the coat of arms and an engraving. There is a popular story about the bell. Legend has it that during a terrible earthquake, the bells of the tower of the parish church of San Giovanni Battista and Santa Maria fell into a well. To recover them, the parish priests began to remove the water but the well seemed to have no end. They tied a cat to a rope and lowered it into the well to understand how deep it was. When they picked it up, the poor animal wasn’t wet but it had burn marks on it. This gave the parish priests a terrible fear; that the well was connected directly to hell.

Chapter #3

Don't put Ponsacco between the Pisans and the Florentines

In the past, Ponsacco had the misfortune of being a village in the centre between Lucca, Pisa, Florence and Volterra; in the middle of a crossroads of markets and conflicting interests. Not only that, Ponsacco was right on the border between the two powerful Republics of Florence and Pisa who were in eternal rivalry for supremacy. This position, so coveted by others but very unfavourable for the Ponsacchini, cost them innumerable "crossings" of domination. Historians count fifteen battles for the possession of its territory between one power and the other. Throughout the centuries, Ponsacco has been taken over several times, each domination involving death and devastation. Since the Middle Ages many tragic events have struck the city, such as when the Florentines destroyed its ancient walls before annexing it and also when the historic parish church of Appiano was sacked.

Photo by: Deblu68