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Corinaldo: the country of madmen

Monday 02 november 2020

A fascinating medieval village whose name comes from several legends

Corinaldo: the country of madmen

Beautiful medieval village near Ancona, Corinaldo has a very original reputation. The village in the Marches, in fact, is known as the village of the madmen. However, behind the name are hidden myths and legends that are interwoven with much more prosaic realities, which over the years have been magnified and have contributed to increase the charm of this place nestled between the streams Misa and Cesano. Within this deepening we see what are the most bizarre stories that have made Corinaldo the country of the madmen.

Corinaldo, a place of spirit
The name of village of the madmen was given to Corinaldo by the neighboring towns and, contrary to what the term might suggest, the inhabitants of the village are not known only for a certain mental instability, but rather for the predilection for the game and for the many jokes, which in the Marche region are part of the tradition and historical re-enactments. The village, built near the ancient Roman city Suasa Senonum, boasts a millenary history whose originality is already found in the name itself, which seemed to derive from the phrase "curre in altum "m often pronounced by people who survived the barbarian attacks, although in recent years seems more accredited version according to which the term should date back to the Curia of Rinaldo, from the first registered settlement.


The legend of Corinaldo's Polenta Well
One of the most important legends related to Corinaldo is that of the Polenta Well. The story tells that one night in a cold winter a tired farmer chose to rest at the edge of the well, which still stands today at the top of the Piaggia steps. Squeezed, he fell asleep and when he woke up he noticed that the bag of polenta he had with him had fallen inside the well. The farmer tried to climb inside the well and from that moment no one had any more news of him. Some versions of the story tell how the farmer tried to call for help and the citizens told him not to despair and to prepare polenta for everyone. This could be at the origin of the custom that in the past saw the inhabitants throw in the well some sausages for the farmer, who was supposed to have remained in the well to prepare the polenta. In addition to being nicknamed crazy, the inhabitants of Corinaldo are also known as the Polentari, such is the fame of this legend, from which even the Contesa della Polenta, a historical re-enactment that takes place along the streets of the medieval village in July, was born.

Pozzo della Polenta

The legend of the fig cannon in the military past of Corinaldo
Another curiosity of Corinaldo is the mythical legend of the fig cannon, a weapon that is said to have been built from a fig trunk. The aim was to attack Montenovo, a town now known as Ostra Vetere. Once this bizarre cannon was completed, a team of eight men carried it on the walls and prepared to use it. While the leader of the expedition set fire to the powder, the other seven men were intent on supporting the fig cannon. Once lit, a roar was heard all over the village and, when the blanket of dust was lifted, it was discovered that they were all dead except the chief, who apparently exclaimed: "There were only seven dead, who knows how many have been killed in Montenovo!

Cannone di fico, Corinaldo

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The true madmen of Corinaldo: the stories
The fame of Corinaldo and his madmen is such that numerous books have been written that deepen their legends. A great source of inspiration is that of the memories of Cavalier Bordi, who collected the stories of the particular characters who lived in Corinaldo in different periods. Among them we find Mr. Atavico, a great lover of hunting who used to wake up at one o'clock in the morning to gaze at the sky and wander the streets of the city, informing hunters about the weather conditions they could expect. Another of Corinaldo's madmen is Pietrino del Mosciuto, who signed a letter addressed to Francesco Crispi the then president of the council, indignant because the institutional office had declared war without first asking him. Finally Paolo Colombaroni, known as Farinello and lived in the times of the enterprise of the Thousand, escaped to enlist with Garibaldi. His pride in having taken part in it led him, once back home, to behave like a soldier, proudly walking around in a red shirt even to carry sacks of flour. In order to celebrate known and less known figures that have contributed to increase the peculiarities of this country, in Corinaldo the Feast of the Madmen takes place towards the middle of April.

Festa dei folli

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