Panicale, apart from its great position overlooking the Trasimeno lake and its valuable art masterpieces, is also the birthplace of one of the most notorious warlords of all times: Boldrino from Panicale.
Boldrino, whose real name was Giacomo Paneri, was born in Panicale in 1331 from the marriage of Francesco Paneri and Lucrezia Ceppotti.
According to the art historian Fabbretti he was renowned for his “athletic and strong appearance”. He was very tall for his period, between 1 metre 95 and 2 metres 10 centimetres, that was enough to scare all his enemies. He had a strict look, and was ambitious, brave and greedy. After the murder of his dad, his only wish was to have an immediate revenge; so when he was still a teenager, he decided to move to Perugia, where he learnt how to handle a weapon. He soon excelled in his group for his commitment, his vigour and skills. In the following years he got involved with a group of mercenaries led by l’Acuto (the Italian translation for J. Hawkwood), from whom he learnt to be sly and and irreverent.
He soon left this group in 1376, and formed one of his own, made up of about 3000 men. He was a cruel warlord and his enemies would not even mention his name without having fear. Thanks to his cruelty, he soon gained a reputation for being: “A proud warlord, always victorious, very good towards his friends, very bad towards his enemies”. These words are still visible on his memorial marble plaque that hangs on one of the walls of his house in Piazza San Michele Arcangelo, in Panicale. Like all mercenaries, he defended those who offered him more money, for this reason he sometimes found himself against a city or a lord he had previously already served. His life was a never-ending sequence of battles, raids and public decorations. One of his victories is still visible on the historical curtain of the Theatre Caporali in Panicale. Mariano Piervittori painted the canvas in the year 1835. He depicts the Church Prior of Perugia who delivers the keys of the city to Boldrino, it was a way to show him how grateful he was for having defeated the Bretons and defended the city of Perugia from the invaders.
His life and death are worth a mention. It was in 1391 when Boldrino found himself in the region of Marche trying to conquer castles and lands on behalf of Pope Bonifacio IX. Once he had conquered them, he decided to keep them for himself and his son, so Castel Ficano in the province of Macerata (MC) became his house. Anyway, it never became his official home as he lacked any kind of royal title. The Pope’s brother, Andrea Tomacelli, made him pay for what he had done; with the excuse of the swearing-in ceremony of San Severino Andrea invited Boldrino to the castle of Rancia, the last place where Boldrino had been seen alive. Unaware and unarmed, while sipping some water, Boldrino was stabbed with a dagger and then beheaded. When his soldiers learnt of the fact, they started butchering and devastating the local population, until they managed to get back his corpse. They all gathered in reverence around his dead body. According to the legend, even after his death his soldiers used to take his mummified body to war with them, as he was still able to scare all his enemies. Independently of his good or evil deeds, he has become a fascinating character for both adults and children.
It is possible to reserve a guided tour by clicking on the links here below in order to admire the theatre curtain depicting Boldrino and his military actions: