There are many stories about the meaning of Sgurgola and the Sgurgolano spirit, but the most beautiful is the one linked to its coat of arms with Bellatrix!
The Sgurgolani are called ‘scoppettieri’ by people from neighbouring towns. They are people of indomitable character who in the nineteenth century had even created their own ‘small Garibaldi army’ to go to conquer Rome!
Bellatrix means ‘warrior woman’ (and is also a bright star in the Orion constellation) and Sgurgola wrote it into its coat of arms as a symbol of its personality. A place of ‘warring’ fiery people always ready to fight to defend their case. These are the merits and defects of the Sgurgolani: always fighting for their ideas and more often failing to mediate and to team up with others.
Sgurgola was born as a lookout point for the control of the Sacco Valley. Its geographical formation, with a small plateau on the side of the mountain high above the valley, made it perfect for the construction of a tower, that became a military garrison and then was transformed into a castle. The goal was to control the Sacco Valley where all the various armies transited.
The history of Lazio, Sgurgola’s region, can be summarized briefly as follows: after the Roman Empire came the invasions of Barbarians and Saracens. The people who lived in peace in the fertile valleys moved to high ground near towers or ‘manned’ monasteries. Castles were born, with villages inside the walls and a feudal lord was appointed by the Church (we are in the Papal States in the medieval era).
In the Renaissance peace returned and many castles were transformed into mansions and valleys again becoming populated. With the onset of Baroque splendour the insides of many existing churches were beautified. Then came the army of Napoleon who scientifically plundered and destroyed many churches as well as castles and towns.
Sgurgola was a habitat of the military, housing military garrisons, which by their nature, are composed of belligerent people. The major shopping streets, where they passed and exchanged ideas and met people, were on the other side of the Sacco river so the town has therefore lived a social life concentrated within its own boundaries.
The feudal lord, Prince Colonna, was not paying much attention to Sgurgola and used it as a ‘cash machine’ by imposing a governor always brought in from other regions. He did not build palaces or special works during the Renaissance. You can see a small palace in the vicinity of the castle, and you can recognize the coat of arms on the door, but Sgurgola was useful simply for its citizens’ taxes.
A child growing up without love is a child who can become sad or warrior. So many Sgurgolani became even more warrior-like and holding an innate sense of rebellion to all those who seem to make proposals that come from a central authority and that does not pursue their common good.
The most significant episode of this suffering to authority and example of this warrior spirit took place in the period in which Garibaldi was going back up Italy after landing at Marsala. The Sgurgolani felt excited to be liberated from feudalism and a to become part of a regime that until then had not been near and decided to support Garibaldi in his march on Rome.
They formed a small army of about fifteen men, wearing red shirts and went to meet the Garibaldi army. On arrival in Valmontone they discovered that Garibaldi had stopped in Teano and that he had made a deal with the king of Italy to come back.
This is Sgurgola, this is its proud people. When you go to Sgurgola you may come across heated discussions in the square, but do not worry. What in other towns would be a fierce debate ‘fought to the death’, here in Sgurgola is a chat between old friends to decide what to do that night. Then everything returns to calm.
But during their holidays this spirit becomes riotous play and the fun is not to be missed!