Hi, CiCi here.

After reading about how Roberto Roberto Guinigi salvaged the disaster that was Project BRENDA, and about how his special farro soup solved the crisis in Madeira, you may be thinking:  all of the problems in this story get solved by Double R Guinigi’s brilliant planning and anticipation of obstacles, right? 

Think again …..

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The Pisani – frequently dismissed by Duke Castracani as the “River Rats” who lived south of Lucca — weren’t dummies.

They actually were smart, and they had spies too. They were worthy adversaries of the Lucchesi.

Pisa’s maritime strength had been greatly diminished by their

disastrous defeat at the hands of the Genoese fleet at the dramatic Battle of Meloria in 1284,

but Pisa was still extremely proud and was determined not to bow the knee to Florence, Lucca, Siena or any other Tuscan foe while on terra firma.

In fact, the Pisani’s brilliant general Uguccione della Faggiuola

defeated the Florentines in the Battle of Montecatini in 1315, a mammoth victory for the River Rats.

In the wake of that victory, della Faggiuola and his fellow Pisani were itching to take the Lucchesi down a few notches too!

Their opportunity came in late 1319, when Pisa’s top spies operating in Lucca reported to della Faggiuola that

a top secret Lucchese military mission led by Guinigi lieutenant Carlo Pellerini had been sent to the island of Madeira in one of Lucca’s two new warships

under the command of Captain Giancarlo Annapoli,

supposedly to bring back a fearsome new weapon that was code named “Reba Oak”.

The spies’ report – labelled “For The Eyes of UDF Only” – speculated that the new “Reba Oak” weapon was a gigantic oak catapult that could fling huge iron buccellati at Pisa, capable of battering and eventually destroying the Leaning Tower! 

Della Faggiuola was incensed, enraged! He called an emergency meeting of the leaders of the Republic of Pisa.

Della Faggiuola proposed a plan to hire nearly every handsome, single young Pisan man between the ages of 19 and 29, and to have these hunks flood the beach cities of Tuscany near Lucca,

pretending to be beach enthusiasts interested in swimming, beach volleyball, lifting weights and exercising, and otherwise enjoying the beach scene and passeggiata. 

But this would all be a ruse, because these men would be instructed that if a Lucchese naval warship were to anchor off the coast of Viareggio, Marina di Pietrasanta, Lido di Camaiore, Forte dei Marmi, or elsewhere near Lucca, then they were to do everything in their power to sink or burn the ship and destroy its “Reba Oak” cargo.

The men were each to be promised 100 gold coins of the Republic of Pisa if they were successful in destroying the “Reba Oak” cargo.

Della Faggiuola called the plan “Pantera Morta!” or “Dead Panther!”

Pantera Morta! was approved by the leaders of the Republic of Pisa by a vote of 19-0, and many excellent bottles of wine were consumed in delight at the anticipated humiliation of the arrogant Lucchese mastermind Roberto Roberto Guinigi and his puppet Duke Castruccio Castracani!

But unfortunately for the Pisani, things did not proceed as planned. 

But not because of any brilliant subterfuge masterminded by Double R Guinigi.

To be very honest, the plan fell apart simply because the Lucchese girls at the beaches were too beautiful for the handsome, single Pisani hunks to ignore!

The Lucchese girls were gorgeous!

They were funny!

They were vivacious!

They were, in a word:


The poor Pisani descended onto the beaches, fully intending to spend their time carefully watching il mare for any sign of an approaching Lucchese warship. They all had good intentions.

But in a matter of just a few hours, they were all completely distracted! 

They were lounging on beach towels talking and laughing with the beautiful Lucchese girls!

They were in the bars and cafés talking and laughing with the beautiful Lucchese girls!

They were eating delicious cioppino, pasta, panini and other wonderful lunches and dinners, flirting with the beautiful Lucchese girls!

They were staying out very late, dancing and singing with the beautiful Lucchese girls,

and then sleeping in until 11 or Noon the next day! 

And then, when they woke up, they were all in the cafés enjoying multiple espressos and budini di riso, trying to wake up enough

so that they could spend the day chasing the beautiful Lucchese girls again!

So when the Lucchese warship the Elsie suddenly arrived and anchored off the beach at Viareggio at about 8 am one fine morning,

Captain Giancarlo Annapoli’s men promptly unloaded two beautiful healthy Reba Oak trees,

and the trees, guarded by 200 of Roberto Roberto Guinigi’s best soldiers,

were immediately transported to Lucca, and

not a single Pisano was even awake to see it!

The River Rats’ supposedly brilliant plan “Pantera Morta!” was about as successful as their over-hyped plan to somehow straighten out the Leaning Tower, which remains severely tilted to this very day.

As Captain Annapoli, his happy-go-lucky midshipman Usna, and the two Reba Oaks entered Lucca through the western Porta Sant’Anna of the magnificent mura that were then under construction by huge construction crews,

Roberto Roberto Guinigi, his beautiful wife Gigi and his little son Paolo, about fifty of his lieutenants, and about a thousand Lucchese citizens cheered their arrival!

Tall and extremely handsome Roberto Roberto Guinigi stood on an elegant raised platform and raised both of his arms, and the huge crowd went quiet.

In a loud clear voice, Double R Guinigi announced to the crowd:

“This day, 10th of April 1320, is one of the proudest days in Lucchese history!

“These Reba Oaks shall honor our great city atop the new Torre Guinigi, forever! Every single one of you is invited to climb the Torre Guinigi nine days from now, on the 19th of April, to enjoy the view and the Reba Oaks, and every one of you who does so shall be given a gold coin of the Republic of Lucca if you shout out from the top of the Torre Guinigi:


The crowd went wild in applause and cheering for the Guinigi family!!!!!

Next post Capitolo 18 – Le nutrie attaccano!