Pasquale Casale

Il Sirente: Crocevia di Briganti
The book, published in 1999, is the result of a long research in the documents connected to brigandage preserved in the State Archive of L'Aquila, and recostructs the historical events connected to the reaction and consequent rise of brigandage in the centers of the Valle Subequana in the years 1860-1870. The period and the events had not been studied yet in the Sirente area with true historical attention.

Through original documents it is shown how in the area Mount Sirente was at the time a true "crossroads of brigands" who from Marsica moved towards L'Aquila, and from the Valle Peligna towards the Cicolano area. The "Cannone" gang from Gagliano Aterno committed terrible crimes, as the cruel murder of a local lawyer and many kidnappings. The feats of the gang of famed "Francescone" from Tione degli Abruzzi kept on alert for years the Subequana stations of the Reali Carabinieri, who "invited" to catch brigand Angelo Del Guzzo from Fagnano the legendary Carabiniere Chiaffredo Bergia, called at the time "brigand slayer".

The book also analyses, with reference to Gagliano Aterno, Castelvecchio Subequo, Fontecchio and Secinaro, the violent riots, that were later to be known as "the reaction", of the peasant class against the new Savoy sovereigns.

The Sirente-Velino Regional Park granted the use of its official emblem and inserted the volume in its own "Parco-Cultura" collection. The volume is in 144 pages, 17x24 cm, and includes fine drawings of Patrizia Colantoni, an artist from Secinaro, who reconstructs brigand scenes.

From the book a theatrical piece was made by association "Spettacolarci", Raiano, performed in many squares in the centers of the Comunità Montana Sirentina in the month of August 2001. The stories told in the book were also the basis for a reenactement organized jointly by the Parco Regionale Sirente-Velino and the Comunità Montana Sirentina on August 12 2001 on the Sirente plateau: a number of local youths, impersonated brigands, performed pieces to the amusement of tourists and villagers. The re-enactment was also shown on the Italian national TV (TG 3 of RAI, and a RAI 2 troupe for the "Sereno variabile" show, directed by anchorman Osvaldo Bevilacqua.

Fatigatori di Campagna e Ghigliottina - Storie di Briganti nel Sirente 1798-1810
The book is the result of a research in the State Archive of L'Aquila and reconstructs the historical background of the insurrection and brigandage under the French invasion in Southern Italy, and more specifically the relevant events in the 13 municipalities included today within the Comunità Montana Sirentina. All the names are recorded for the "capi massa" of the municipalities who gathered in Roio to organize the rebellion against the French, that started with the slaughter of a number of French officers in Rocca di Cambio on 31 December 1798.

The connection between a noble family of Gagliano with Giuseppe Pronio, the most famous Abruzzese "capo massa", and the later treason in favour of the French is documented with a large correspondence between the parties. But possibly the most interesting part concerns the second French invasion of Abruzzo in 1806. In September 600 brigands gathered on the Sirente plateau and that meeting marked the beginning of brigandage and repression in the Aquilan Province. The reader will find here hundreds of bloody events, taking place in allthe municipalities above mentioned. From the mountain pass of Forca Caruso, ideal site of bloody ambushes, to the dire experience of the Governor of Acciano, from the arrest of notary Colananni from Rocca di Mezzo, to the slaughters of brigands escaping into the Gagliano mountain, from the sacking of Tione, to the attempted arrest of the friars in Castelvecchio Subequo.

Above all stands out the figure of Felice Ruggeri (alias GIOVINOTTI) from Ovindoli, who was able to organize a band of some hundreds of individuals of the area, and who was able to fight the French for a long time, until the latter started to arrest the relatives of the brigands in the villages. And it was the arrest of GIOVINOTTI's wife that brought to the defeat of the band in Val d'Arano. The French applied all their military strength to enact a harsh repression, and beheaded many brigands both in the Valle Subequana and in the Altopiano delle Rocche, using that sad instrument of death, guillotine, so popular throughout the French revolution.

In the beginning the local Gentlemen, that is to say the rich and powerful citizens of those centers, gave their support to the peasants, but later abandoned them to their tragic destiny, since thier interest was attracted by the possibility of appropriating the large lands which were now without owners after the suppression of the feudal system.

The book includes 21 tables, with the names of all the individuals involved in the events of the period, their places of origin, professions, crimes committed, the prisons where they were sent. The documents, buried for two centuries in the archive and forgotten, were carefully collected and studied, in order to reconstruct the history of the people of the Sirente area, those people who, as it happened in other parts of Abruzzo, opposed courageously the foreign invaders. With his book Pasquale Casale gave his contribution to a reconstruction through documents of the history of the Sirente villages, which were for too long forgotten or little studied. In a fine graphical edition, the volume 17x24 cm includes 148 pages and colored cover.

Gagliano, Collarmele e Cerchio - Usi civici promiscui fra violenze, rappresaglie e omicidi
The volume is the result of a long research in the State Archive of L'Aquila and in the archive of the Commissariato del Governo for the cettlement of municipal land use, always in L'Aquila. Pasquale casale, who is an expert in the laws and problems connected to public land use, reconstructs the events of the 19th century connected to the ancestral rights of the populations of Collarmele and Cerchio to collect timber in the woods of Gagliano. These rights went back to the Roman era (2000 years ago) and were strengthened throughout the Middle Ages (476 - 1492 AD) and were questioned to the two Marisian municipalities (Cerchio and Collarmele) only when in 1806 fiefdoms were abolished and municipalities established. The people of Gagliano, to defend their own woods, very often clashed with their Marsian neighbours, and these clashes almost gave rise to a civil war.

Hundreds of people were wounded, arrested, and murdered during timber collection. The timber right was of paramount importance to be able to survive through the long freezing winters, which was possible only with firewood. The clashes often caused the intervention of the Bourbon army into the mountains, in an attempt to separate the more belligerant groups. But not even the army was able to stop the violence, which went for the whole 19th century feeding the judgement courts with trials and proceedings.

With the turning of the century, the draining of Lake Fucino and the emigration to North and South America of those poor peasants, but especially following the ominous earthquake which destroyed Avezzano and all the Fucino centers, those clashes gradually became weaker. The volume shows original documents signed by the Mayors, by the Ministers of the Home Affairs, the Commander-in Chiefs of army units who produced their reports of the events.

On the cover of the volume, size 17x24cm, there is a fine land plan of Gagliano dated 1810, all drawn by hand by a local land surveyor. The first two chapters deal with the laws and customs of public land use and the lawsuit among the three municipalities, whereas the following chapters chronicle the bloody events of the armed clashes. For its historical and juridical relevance, the book was included in the Parco-Cultura collection of the Sirente Velino Regional Park.

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