Historical overview of the Vadi family
Chronology from the X to the XIX centuries
House on which the Prestige of Aristocracy was bestowed, raised the banner of Nobility

Editor’s note: Philippo di Vadi Pisano was a 15th century Italian fencing master famous for, among other things, having some time after 1470 written a fencing treatise entitled ‘De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi’.  The teachings were probably inspired by the teachings of Fiore de’i Liberi.

In Primis

image1Before the first millennium some Ilvati, Liguri coming from Vada Sabatia, called in the ancient essays and in the maritime itineraries Vada SabatiumVadis Portus  – de Vadis (today Vado Ligure, city of the Vadi [1]), settled in the North of Etruria and in the South of Pedemontium (Piedmont). The Ilvati started spreading in the nearby areas. Moved by the entrepreneurial spirit and the commercial skills typical of Ligurian people, they made deals and agreements with the political class local Signorie, especially with the Papal States and, later on, with the Savoia.

Year 1059: Florence, Papal States

image2Gherardo dei Conti di Borgogna ruled. He became Pope on 9th December 1058 and remained in office till his death under the name of Niccoló II (he was the 155th Pontifex of the Catholic Church). He appointed Valentino Vadi of Pietro Vadi, feudatory and Gran Dominante of Vada and Populonia, as Chief of the Roman Armies.



Year 1077: Corsica, Republic of Pisa

In 1077 a branch of the Vadi family moved from Pupulonia, under the dominion of the Republic of Pisa, to Western Corsica in the Cantone of Campoluru de Moriani.

Year 1092: Republic of Venice

From the documents of the Monastery of San Giovanni Evangelista (St. John Evangelist) from Torcello:

“During this year Pietro Vadi gave Domenico Foscarini from Torcello a piece of land he owned in Rio Piccolo di Torcello.” Recorded in the book with the no. 664, hand to hand, drawer no. 6 no.1, date 9th October 1094.

Year 1162: Elba Isle – Republic of Pisa

During the night of 23rd July 1162 [2] twenty-five Genoan galleys landed on the Elba Island near Cape Sant’Andrea with a force of well-armed men in order to predate the island.
The Pisan garrison on the island was not numerous and the people of Marciana were the first to come and defend their lands.



After a harsh and bloody fight, the Genoans were forced to rash and quickly re-embark: a hasty escape from the coast of the island.

Pietro Vadi is mentioned between the great heroes. He was Lord of Marciana and built a chapel in the area of la Zanca, in memory of the episode. Here were buried in holy land, the heroes and valorous dead soldiers. This chapel was consecrated as perpetual memory on 15th August 1162. The Vadi heraldry reports this event: Pietro’s sword drew away the enemy



Years 1217-1227: Foundation of Convento di Sant’Agostino in Padova.

Gherardo Vadi, an extremely rich and religious man, donated to the Order of the Preaching Benedictine Friars the land where in Padova the cemetery and the church of the ancient Benedictine Convent of St. Augustine were located.[3]

Year 1281: Papal States

During the reign of Simone Brioni from Monpensieri, who became Pope on 22nd February 1281 and remained in office till his death under the name of Martino IV (189th Pope of the Catholic Church), Andrea VadiI (son) of Francesco Vadi from Populonia became, in obedience of the Pope’s will, trusted counselor, and supported Carlo d’Angiò policy.

Year 1282: Republic of Venice

image5A branch of Vadi family moved to Venice and Francesco Vadi, of Roman originis, was appointed as Third Senator of Venice Republic and received the Medal of Gran Crescente of the Republic.




Year 1291: Elba Isle – Republic of Pisa

In 1291 a powerful Genoan army led by Niccolò Boccanegra landed between Cape Sant’Andrea and the cove where the village of Marciana Marina is today.

After four month of harsh battle, the Marcianese – who were barricaded in the Fortress of Marciana Alta – had to surrender to Genoan troops. The Genoans, well aware of the proud character of the natives and to avoid ambushes and new revolts, took as precaution forty wealthy hostages, and one of them was Vadi.

No one knows what happened to these people brought to Genoa [4].

Year 1315: Florence

Women of Vadi family: in 1315 Masine Vadi and Marie Vadi are among the nuns of the aristocratic Order of Penitence of Preaching Friars in the convent of St. Jacopo of Ripoli, which also included the convent of St. Dominic of Cafagio, where only the most important Houses of Florence were present.

Year 1362: Piedmont, Savoia County

image6In this period a branch of the family moved to Savoia County and Amedeo VI, Count of Savoia, honored with the Savoia Royal Order Alessandro Vadi di Marco Vadi, This event is recorded in Amedei VI “Maistre d’Ostel” diploma, issued in Vercelli on 14th June 1263.





Year 1362: Papal States

This is the year of Guillaume de Grimoard reign. He became Pope on 28th October 1362 and remained in office till his death under the name of Urban V (the 200th Pope of the Catholic Church).
It is important to mention that Federico Vadi was sent as Ambassador of the Papal State in Rome to the Court of Marquis of Este in Ferrara and that in 1364 substituted Bindo di Andrea Bardi as Podestà (medieval city magistrate) in Perugia. Federico became Senator of Rome in 1366 and counselor of Giovanna d’Angiò, who was crowned Queen Giovanna I of Naples, Jerusalem and Sicily.

Year 1405: Republic of Florence
Year 1440: Marquisate of Ferrara

image7During this year Lodovico Vadi di Giovanni Vadi became valiant Commander of Florence Republic and in 1405 he was sent to the very important fortress of Castrocaro in Romagna as Weapons Officer. In 1440 Ludovico was elected Comandante delle Armi (weapons Commader) of Marchesi di Ferrara ad Marquis Niccolò d’Este wrote him several letters in which Ludovico was appointed as “Potente”.

Year 1407: Papal States

In 1407 Giorgio Vadi di Lorenzo Vadi was dubbed in the Ordine Reale di Costantino Magno (Costantine Magno Royal Order) and Pope Gregorio XII, pontifex from November 30th 1406 till 1415 (he was the 205h Pontifex of the Catholic Church), confirmed Giorgio’s title.

Year 1434: Piedmont, France, County and Duchy of Savoia, Papal States

From 1439 to 1499 Amedeo VIII of Savoia, called “Pacifico” (unwarlike) known as Felice V the Antipope. When he gave up the title of Pope brought with him Luigi di Benedetto Vadi, graduated in law, to Ripaglia (Ripaglia Castle is in high Savoia near Thonon Les Bains in France at Lake Lemano, preset Geneva lake) and there they lived as hermits from 1439 to 1449. Luigi Vadi was Amedeo VIII councelor untill 1449.
In 1434 Amedeo VIII founded the Military Order of San Maurizio which became later the “Ordine Mauriziano”.
Later this family branch permanently settled in the High Savoia before on Lemano Lake, than in Canton Genève and Canto Vaud.

Years 1445/1457/1470: Marquisate/Duchy of Ferrara and Reggio

image8During those years Philippo Vadi from PISA was Governor of Reggio under Leoncello d’Este’s Marquisate and after that he was counselor of the Duke Borso d’Este in the Duchy of Ferrara, which included Modena, Reggio and Ferrara, from 1452 to 1470. The Dukes of Este where both Pope’s feudatories in the Ferrara area and Imperator Federico II d’Asburgo’s in Modena and Reggio’s territory. [5]




Year 1457: Venice

The Venetian painter Giovanni Boldu (1454-1477) in 1457 coined a medal for Filippo Vadio from Pisa (Governor and Counselor of the Dukes of Este). This medal is mentioned in the Elogi Italiani of the writer Abate Bottari (7th tome).
On page 29, n. 63 of the “Medaglie e Placche Italiane dal Rinascimento al XVIII secolo” published in 1800 both Giovanni Boldu’s Filippo Vadi medal sides are reproduced and on the front side the following phrase is quoted: ”PHILIPPVS DEVADIS DE PISIS CHINOREM SVPERANS” (Filippo Vadi from Pisa is over Chirone in the Greek Mythology and was considered the most wise and indulgent between the centaurs) with the bust on the left and on the back side:“M’CCCC’LVII OPVS IOANIS BOLDV PICTORIS” with an armored male figure in front of it.

image9On page 145 n. 501 of the book “Catalogne of the Soulages Collection” published in 1856 we find “Bronze Medallion diam. 2 5/8 inch, Filippo De Vadi Craft and chafed, four hundred. The work of Giovanni Boldu of Venice No reverse. Bust of De Vadi inscribed “PHILIPPVS DE VADIS DE PISIS CHINOREM SVPERANS”. This medal can be found also on the Catalogue of the Soulages Numistatics Collection in the Ancient Books Museum of Marlborough House London.

Year 1480/1516: Duchy of Urbino

During these years before during the jurisdiction of Guidobaldo from Montefeltro and after during the one of Francesco Maria I della Rovere, Benedetto Vadi di Fossombrone, graduated in Law and law consultant of the Dukes of Urbino, wrote many law essays still present in our libraries.[6]
It is thought that Benedetto Vadi was the one who recommended Filippo Vadi as Magister Scrima (fencing master) in order to teach the fencing noble art to the Duke Guidobaldo di Montefeltro, who, later, became famous all around Italy as valiant Captain.

Year 1482/1487: Pisa and Duchy of Urbino

Filippo Vadi “Magister Scrima” fencing master born in Pisa 1425 – 1501.
Filippo Vadi wrote a weapons’ essay dedicated to the Duke Guidobaldo d’Urbino by the end of the XV century after having been Governor of Reggio.
There’s no sure evidence of Filippo Vadi presence at the Urbino Court, but the dedication to the Duke and the presence of the essay in the Ducal library are a proof that Filippo Vadi lived for several years in the city of the Marche and that he teached to Duke Guidobaldo.
The book is a manuscript and the title is “De Arte Gladiatoria Dimicandi”, dated more or less between 1482 and 1487.

image11The manuscript presents gorgeous illustrations and has been wrote and dedicated to the Duke of Urbino Guidobaldo da Montefeltro. Today it’s kept in the National Library in Rome.
Guidobaldo became Duke in 1482 so the essay cannot be older. The treatise is present as number 654 in the index of the Urbino Ducal Library classified between 1482 and 1487 by Odasio, tutor of the young Duke, so the essay cannot have been written later then 1487.
In the same catalogue a note says that the book has not been found after 1502 when Cesare Borgia conquered the city.

Year 1428 – 1556: Terni, Papal States

During this years the following members of the VADA Family were honoured with important roles in the city of Terni (Papal State)[7]:

PIETRO VADI from Perticara- 1428, Prior;
ANGELO PIETRO VADI from Perticara – 1448, Prior;
SANTOLO VADI son of PIETRUCCIO VADI from Perticara – 1444, 1448 and 1459, Prior;
ANTONIO SANTOLO VADI from Capite Inferiore – from 1468 to 1517, Prior and Banderaro (middle class and merchants delegate);
BARTOLOMEO SANTOLO VADI 1480, 1497 and 1509, Prior;
MARIANGELO VADI 1527, 1529, and 1545 Banderaro and Prior;
GIOVANNI GIACOBBE VADI from 1524 to 1556, Prior and General Cunselor.

Year 1572: Piedmont, Duchy of Savoia

Duke Emanuele Filiberto di Savoia known as “Testa di Ferro” (Iron Head) honored Cavaliere (knight) Antonio vadi son of Edoardo Vadi in the Royal Order of San Maurizio and Lazzaro. The Ordine Mauriziano was founded by Amedeo VIII and modified by the Duke Emanuele Filiberto of Savoia who decided to assign the Order to the fight against enemies of the Real Faith, Calvinists and Luterans, and to the practice of hospitality.

On October 16th 1572 Pope Gregorio XIII in his Bolla Cristiani Populi, established the Military and Religious Order of San Maurizio to the will of Duke Emanuele Filiberto and, after on November 13th the Pope unified forever the Order of San Maurizio with the Order of Saint Lazzaro which was founded in Jerusalem around the year 1000 in order to attend to lepers in the holy places.

Pope Gregorio XIII decided to submit the new Order to the Regola of San Benedetto of the Congregazione Cistercense (Cisterian/Trappist Congregation) and appointed the Duke of Savoy and his legitimate successors as Grand Masters of the Order.
Knights took religious vows and swear to fight for the Catholic Religion. To be part of the Order knights had to be part of the noble class.

Later part of the Vadi Family moved from the High Savoy to the Ossola Valley, more precisely to Mingiandone and Ornavasso.

Year 1589: Populonia, Elba Isle

image12The Vadi Family was titled as Noble by the Holy Roman Emperor Imperator Rodolfo II (Imperor from 1576 to 1612) and in that period the family lived in Populonia.
Being Noble meant not just having a title, but also having some privileges as, for example, “being dispensed with the rights of duty” and the perpetual right on the Church of San Carlo lands in the western part of Elba Isle. [8]




Year 1713: Bologna

In this year, in the family Vadi, we mention Francesco Vadi, XVII century painter. One of his paintings is reported to be in the Basilica di San Petronio in Bologna sacristy [9].

Year 1759

Don Carlos, son of Filippo V King of Spain and successor of Francesco Farnese I Parma, during the Coronation of his son Fernando as Duke of Naples (he traded Parma with Naples and renewed the Royal Order of Costantino Magno) and Gran Maestro of the Ordine Reale di Costatino, honored Giuseppe Vadi, member of the order, as Knight of Jerusalem.

Year 1775: Populonia, Elba Isle, Princedom of Piombino

In 1775 Cerbone Vadi definetly moved to Isola d’Elba and left his 5 brothers between Populonia and Vada: Francesco, Giuseppe, Benedetto, Giovanpaolo and Pietro. [10].

Year 1799: Elba Isle

In 1799 Cerbone Vadi, Major of Marciana Isola d’Elba, standed out when the French military troops try to take possession of the Island. They were stopped by Elba inhabitants and in June, the General Montserat French troops were defeated by the Marciana People after several days of bloody battle: they suffered a lot of losses and it was the greatest defeat from the landing on the Island.

The French capitulation was signed by the Commander Ferrent and given to the Major Cerbone Vadi on 17th July 1799 [11].

On 15th August 1799 (Feast of the Assumption) Marcianesi brought all the enemy’s weapons and flags as votive donation to the Madonna del Monte in order to thank God for their salvation and their new freedom: they hanged both the weapons and the flags to the wall and added a wooden epigraph which in 1864 was replace by a marble one. Here below the epigraph transcript:

-ARS 1799

Those patriotism memories have been stolen to our enemies who were defeated, took flight more than a time and were routed. They are symbols of Marciana Peolple respects and gratitude to the Mother of God, Patron and Help of Marcianese people
– 1799 Year of recovered salvation

Year 1814: Elba Isle

The beginning of the Napoleon Reign connoted this year: Pons de l’Herault wrote that on 3rd May 1814 Napoleon came to Marciana and found the right words to draw the attention of everyone [12].
The writers also adds that Napoleon avoided to mention the Elbana insurrection in 1799 while he was staring at the Major of Marciana Cerbone Vadi.
image13However, Pons de l’Herault wrote that VADI spoke trying to justify the “Delitti del Passato” (“Past Crimes”) and that Napoleon retorted to Cerbone Vadi that:“Your words could make me think that you’re one of the criminal if just you had the nerve to praise them. Law drew a veil over the past: let me follow the law and you should be glad of my respect for it”.

All the people were happy and “Et tout le monde était enchanté”. Napoleon discovered people of Marciana being strong and proud: he thought that they were very similar to Corsica inhabitants in term of character.
From 21st to 23rd August Cerbone Vadi hosted Imperator Napoleon the Great in his house in Via delle Fonti, than, from 25th to 5th September 1814 he hosted also Napoleon’s mother, Letizia Ramorino, the “Augusta Madre” [13].

Year 1848: Kingdom of Piemonte and Sardegna

On 29th May 1848 Giuseppe Vadi, student and Patron of the University of Pisa, together with other valiant students, was part of the famous Curtatone and Montanara battle at the side of Carlo Alberto Amedeo of Savoy piedmonts army (First Indipendence war) against the Austrian Army of Marshal Radetsky.

In Località Grazie the University of Pisa Battalion held out against the enemy till 29th May late in the evening giving time enough to the Piedmont Army to focus their energy in Goito and prepare the final and deciding attack for the day after on 30th May. The University of Pisa Battalion behaved in an heroic way, students sacrificed their lives: 166 deaths, 510 men injured and 1186 prisoners, but it was a great loss also for the Austrian (100 deaths and lots of injured soldiers).

Year 1869 – 1878: Elba Isle, Kingdom of Italy

image14From 1861 (year of the firs plebiscites) to 1878 (year of the Proclamation of the Reign of Italy), during the reign of Vittorio Emanuele di Savoia, the First King of Italy, and during the Reign of Umberto I di Savoia King of Italy (1878-1900), from 28th January 1869 to 30th Decembre 1878, Giuseppe Vadi, Knight of Italy, was Major of Marciana Alta which included Marciana Marina, Maria di Campo e the Island Pianosa.
Moreover from 1876 to 1878 Giuseppe Vadi was Member of the Provincial Council of Italy and member of the Florence Accademia dei Georgofili.




[1] “Mirabilia Italiane” di Franco Cosimo, Città del Vaticano; “Galleria delle carte geografiche in Vaticano” tavola n. 3 Liguria.

[2] “Cronache Pisane” di Bernardo Marangone; “Storia dell’Elba” di Luigi De Pasquali.

[3] “Della Nobile et generosa progenie”, pages 356-357, del P.S. Domenico in Italia.

[4] “Annali Genovesi” di Jacopo Doria; “Historie Pisane” di Raffaello Roncioni; “L’Elba alla fine del XIII° secolo” di Emilio Cristiani.

[5] As reported on page 97 of Amorum books of the fifteenth century with other Boiardeschi studies and some unpublished poems of Saviozzo and other authors on pages 50-58-60.

[6] “Storia dei Conti e Duchi d’Urbino, personaggi illustri di Fossombrone”, Libro V, page 345.

[7] “Memorie diverse di Terni”, at l’Archivio di Stato di Roma.

[8] “Storia della Città e Stato di Piombino”, di Licurgo Cappelletti, cap. XXIX, page 262.

[9] “Archivio Storico Araldico”, volume 98, page 663.

[10] “Libro dei Consigli”, pag. 284, filza stato civile n. 82, at l’Archivio di Piombino.

[11] “Corriere Elbano” del 30 marzo 1978, “La Tufa Marcianese”.

[12] “Anedotes de Ile d’Elbe”, Paris 1897, pag. 42 – 43.

[13] Inscription in marble placed by the municipality of Marciana a Memory of Posterity MDCCCLXXXVII.