Always surprised by ‘La Secchia Rapita’

In a previous post, I said how much I appreciated having the chance of doing a photographic tour of the John Rylands Library, but here I want to focus on a particular photo I took that day.

That’s the photo:


On the shelves of the library, I noticed this edition of La Secchia Rapita (The Stolen Bucket), a text by Alessandro Tassoni, first published in 1622. This is the classical book that you’ll remember when studying Italian literature as a teenager: while in the midst of Baroque literature, this short mock-epic poem stands surely out. The poem recounts the early 14th century war for the oaken bucket between the cities of Bologna and Modena. Briefly, the citizens of Modena succeeded over those of Bologna in battle, and as a war trophy they brought back to their city this bucket. Bologna declare then war to Modena: this long war narrated in epic tones by Tassoni will end with a treaty allowing the citizens of Modena to keep the bucket, while those of Bologna will keep as a prisoner Enzo, son of the emperor Fredrick II who was indeed kept as prisoner in Bologna in the mid of the 13th century.

Not only did I study La Secchia Rapita when at school, but since I then went to University in Bologna I had heard plenty of it! What a surprise to find it there!

And, interestingly, the bucket is still kept in Modena, on display in the City Council palace, where it can be visited on request. That’s a photo of my last visit there:

2013-01-03 14.34.26

It might be that I am writing about objects agencies, but I really find this story both equally amusing and fascinating.


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