©Wiki/Elidebacianino
©Wiki/Elidebacianino
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Morcella, a micro-hamlet with a bloody history

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Morcella is part of the municipality of Marsciano. Three hundred fifty-four people populate it. The village is located 25 km south of Perugia, at 221-meter height, on the surrounding hills from the valley crossed by the river Nestore along the road leading from Migliano to the marscianese state road. The most important activity of the hamlet is agriculture, due to the farms located in the peripheral territory of the country. The modest part of the territory that occupies Morcella is characteristic of the Umbrian landscape. The medieval village rises on a hill, and the sweet valley of Nestore forms a small plain under the surrounding hills. According to some hypotheses, the name derives from goddess Venus, adored by the Romans under the name "Murcia" for having blessed the protective walls (“mura” in Italian). Other stories tell that the name Murcia (or Murzia) comes from myrtle, a sacred plant to that goddess. To understand the minimal size of the hamlet, here are some important numbers: there is a total of 102 buildings in Morcella, of which only 92 are used. Of the latter, 82 are used for residential construction, and ten are used for productive, commercial or other purposes. A renovation in 2008, has completely restored the small village along the Nestore river, making it one of the most characteristic hamlets of the territory of Marsciano.

© iStock/meskolo
© iStock/meskolo

Very notable in the town are the church of San Silvestro and the Castle. The first record of the parish church of Morcella, dedicated to S. Silvestro Pope, is ancient and dates back to 1027. In that year, Corrado Salico appointed it among the churches of the territory of the monastery of St. Peter of Perugia as « Muricella.» 

San Silvestro church
San Silvestro church
06055 Morcella PG, Italia

The castle of Morcella was donated in 1328 by Ludovico the Bavaro to the Dukes of Marsciano, to thank them for the help offered during the conflict with Arrigo VII. In 1310 an assault carried by  Libriotto di Portasole from Perugia was stopped; however, it appears that the castle fell under the rule of the Duke of Perugia of Porta San Pietro. Other sieges occurred in 1534 under Baldassarre della Staffa, and in 1643 by the Florentines of Mattia de Medici, who camped in the nearby settlement of San Biagio della Valle. From this last siege, in particular, the villagers had to free themselves after paying a ransom. 

The story of this siege is quite telling of how battles and conquers were at the time. At the time of this siege, the Florentine army of Mattia de Medici has camped near S. Biagio della Valle, with a group of 500 horses and 300 foot soldiers. This happened under the command of Dog, a captain of Mattia’s guards, who came to replenish the castle and plunder it, as he did before with the ones in Sant’ Elena and Cerqueto. When the army arrived in Morcella, they started attacking the walls. 

The damages came fast and easy, so a trumpeter was sent by the soldiers to obtain the surrender of the castle. He asked for some refreshments for the soldiers and the horses, promising the inhabitants to spare their lives. The inhabitants agreed and opened the doors to the soldiers, who sacked the castle and took prisoners. Among them, there were Giovanni Battista, brother of the prior parish priest, Simone della Palla, Gualtiero Innocenti, Luca di Sante and other members of the wealthiest families of the place. They were all detained for one day and one night and asked for a significant amount of money. The prisoners decided to pay and were then freed. 

Two days after the sack, the Florentine army took to San Valentino, another nearby village, and kept raiding Morcella for eighteen straight days, leaving anything but ashes and crumbles behind.

Castle of Morcella
Castle of Morcella
Morcella, 06055 Marsciano PG, Italia

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The author

Federico Spadoni

Federico Spadoni

I am Federico, I was born and raised in Italy. Sport and news fanatic and active volunteer. I am currently living in Athens, Greece. I write about the central parts of Italy.

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