Articolo disponibile anche in: Italian

Barberino Val d’Elsa, a small town in the heart of Chianti, has a grand and glorious past, crossing national boundaries and centuries to establish a tie to the USA and the Fitzgerald Kennedy family, that of the beloved 35th US president, John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

From the Pieve of Sant’Appiano, where in 1331 Gherarduccio di Gherardini was buried , grow the roots of the Italian origin of the American family, specifically the branch in which Rose Elisabeth Fitzgerald, mother of JFK,  was born.

Gherarduccio Gherardini was a military man who defended the land of Henry Vll and also was involved in commercial and financial ventures. Politically, the family was  “ghibellina” and later “guelfa bianca” and searched out popular reform.

Before Gherarduccio, in 1190, some members of the Gherardini family (Tommaso, Maurizio and Gherardo) were exiled along with Dante Alighieri. And thus they left for Ireland where they established themselves by participating in the the battle to possess England, begun by William the Conqueror.

They were rewarded by become viceroys of Ireland where they maintained this role for many centuries. They adopted Saint Patrick, later symbol of Ireland, as their patron saint and changed their name to Firzgerald, which in Gaelic means son of Gherardo.

From here derived the branch of the Kennedys who emigrated to the United States in 1700. We should also remember Gherarduccio’s uncle, Ottoringo who had a similar fate to that of John Kennedy. Ottoringo was an important politician who was killed by a crossbow shot from above in Piazza della Signoria in 1304.

He was buried in Florence in the Church of Saint Stephan a Ponte. In retaliation, his grandfather, Cece Gherardini then declared war on Siena  from Florence. He was fined three times and, under threat, participated in the battle of Montaperti as a Florentine captain in 1260. He was buried in Valdelsa. Vanni, Gherarduccio’s brother, defended the nearby town of Linari from Henry Vll and won.