Tolentino, Battle AD 1815

Tolentino Battle NEW text
La Battaglia di Tolentino, A.D. 1815
The Battle of Tolentino, AD 1815
05,06.05.2018 (triennial event, last held in 2015, next edition in 2021)
Tolentino (Macerata, Marches region)

a weekend in the beautiful Marches region of Central Italy for a unique international historical re-enactment, an epic experience of living experimental archaeology to relive the epic and magical atmosphere of the Napoleonic Wars...

Geographical, cultural and historical context

Tolentino is a town located in a strategic position in the middle of river Chienti valley, in the favorable and fertile coastal zone between the Apennines and the Adriatic Sea, in the Central Italian Marches region, about 80 km from Ancona. The rich heritage includes several outstanding architectures, such as the evocative Devil’s Bridge across the Chienti river, which was built in one night only in 1268 according to legends, the Clocks Tower, symbol of the town, the Town Hall, and the monumental Basilica dedicated to Saint Nicolas of Tolentino (ca. 1246-1305 AD, an Italian saint and mystic). In the surroundings lie the majestic Rancia castle and the charming Abbey of Chiaravalle di Fiastra, one of the best-preserved Cistercian abbeys in Italy.

The medieval Rancia Castle owes its name to the ancient granary, named "grancia" after the Latin "granica", used by the Cistercian monks at the end of the 12th century. Originally a fortified farmhouse erected during the 9th century with the aim to shelter agricultural commodities, later on, due to its strategic location, the defensive structure became a real fortress, being enlarged in the 14th century by the Da Varano Lords, an Italian noble family that played a key role in the medieval and Renaissance history of central Italy. The squared building, originally accessed by a drawbridge, consists of crenelated walls strengthened by three towers and a keep. Over centuries, though maintaining its original defensive purpose, the castle was also used as a residence.

Tolentino boasts a very rich and ancient history with the first settlements dating to the Lower Paleolithic (ca. 3.3 million - 300,000 BC) as witnessed by archaeological findings. The territory was a main centre of the Piceni culture from 8th to 4th century BC, and later became a prosperous Roman municipium by name Tolentinum along the via Flaminia, an ancient Roman road leading from Rome over the Apennine Mountains to Ariminum (the today Rimini) on the coast of the Adriatic Sea. After the fall of the Roman Empire the town experienced another rebirth during the Middle Ages, when it became a free municipality and flourished thanks to trading and manufacturing activities. Historically Tolentino keeps a special link to the Napoleonic Age: on February 19, 1797, the town hosted the signature of the armistice between Napoleon (1769-1821 AD, French statesman and military leader, Emperor of France from 1804 to 1814 and in 1815) and Pope Pius VI (born Count Giovanni Angelo Braschi, 1717-1799 AD, head of the Catholic Church and the Papal States from 1775 to his death), following Napoleon’s victorious First Italian campaign against the Austrians, allied with Pope Pius VI. 

But the very event for which Tolentino went down to history is surely related to the Battle of Tolentino, which was fought on May 2 and 3, 1815 by the French-Italian army of Joachim Murat (1767-1815 AD), Marshal of France, Grand Duke of Berg from 1806 to 1808, King of Naples from 1808 to 1815, and the Austrian army led by the Baron Frederick Bianchi (1768-1855 AD), an Austrian general and field marshal. The one of Tolentino was the decisive battle in the Neapolitan War (15 March – 20 May 1815) between the Napoleonic Kingdom of Naples and the Austrian Empire, and is considered by many historians as the very first war for Italian Independence, therefore the ideal beginning of “Risorgimento”. Besides, the Battle shares many parallels with that of Waterloo, as both occurred during the Hundred Days following Napoleon's return from Elba exile and resulted in a decisive victory for the Seventh Coalition. Tolentino put an end to Napoleon's domination over Italy: the Neapolitan army ceased to exist as an effective fighting force and the fall of Murat began.

Event description and programme

The "Tolentino 815" Association, in cooperation with the Municipality of Tolentino, organizes every three years the re-enactment of the Battle of Tolentino thanks to the presence of many historical groups and military bands from all over Italy and Europe, hundreds of Napoleonic reenactors all in period uniforms, weapons and equipment of the age. The "Tolentino 815" Association deals with various cultural initiatives, such as conventions, meetings, historical research and publishing, related to the Napoleonic Age. The "Tolentino 815" Association carries on also a special reenactment project devoted to the 2nd Light Horse Regiment of the Kingdom of Naples. The light horsemen participated in several Napoleonic campaigns from Spain 1809 to Russia 1812 and Germany 1813. At the Battle of Tolentino, the 2nd Light Horse, along with the Royal Guard, was the most engaged cavalry regiment during the fighting against the Austrian Army.

The event is held in the imposing setting of the Rancia Castle and its surroundings, as well as in Tolentino town center, offering a wealth of events and initiatives for the whole family, including battle reenactments and living history displays, dance and music shows, gatherings of military bands, historical parades, military drills and maneuvers. The life of the Napoleonic soldiers is reconstructed in each detail exactly like it was two hundred years ago and presented to the audience with great accuracy thanks also to guided tours to the historical camps and living interpretation activities. The rich programme includes several complementary initiatives about art, culture, music, dance, cuisine, pastimes as well as themed exhibitions, talks, lectures, meetings, projections, and a wealth of leisure and educational events for adults and children all aimed to relive part of the 19th century civilian and military daily life.

Please contact the Organizers for confirmation and further details.

Info & Contact

Associazione Tolentino 815
Address: Via Nazionale 2 - 62029 Tolentino (Macerata), Italy
Tel./Fax: +39 (0)733 960778

Tolentino Town Council / Comune di Tolentino
Address: Piazza della Libertà - 62029 Tolentino (Macerata), Italy
Tel.: +39 (0)733 9011 | Fax: +39 (0)733 901360

Castello della Rancia - Tolentino Musei Civici e Residenze Storiche
Address: Contrada La Rancia, SS 77, Tolentino (Macerata), Italy
Tel.: +39 (0)733 973349

Tourist information center / IAT Macerata
The tourism website of the province of Macerata
Tel.: +39 (0)733 234807

Image: © Historia Vivens Web
Text sources: Tolentino 815, Wikipedia, Tolentino Town Council


Tolentino and Rancia castle on Google Maps:



Promos and video reportages of the event:






Visiting Tolentino and its castle:






in memory of Paolo Scisciani

Remembering Paolo Scisciani, Founder and President of the "Tolentino 815" Association, passionate historian and reenactor, tireless promoter of his beloved Tolentino and enthusiastic creator of the Battle of Tolentino 1815 reenactment, a kind and energetic soul, whom we had the honour to meet personally.



Image credits: Tolentino 815 Association


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