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The Republic of Cospaia

Museo storico e scientifico del Tabacco

The former Republic of Cospaia il located north of San Giustino and is situated on the slopes of the High Tiber eastern hills, in a strategic position, close to the foothill road in the base of the valley. Recent archaeological findings prove how much the area was frequented in Roman times, whilst in medieval times it was a fortified centre. The little strip of independent territory of 330 hectares, between 500 and 700 metres wide and a few  kilometres in length, was born because of a mistake made by the mapmakers of the Papal State and the Florentine Republic who, whilst outlining the respective borders, didn’t realise that the Tuscans had  established the border on the Gorgaccia stream and the bridges on the Ascone stream, omitting the territory in the middle of the two rivers, the hill of Cospaia, that promptly declared itself republic with the motto “Perpetua et firma libertas”. The small hamlet, which didn’t have taxes, duties or customs, remained independent from 1441 to 1826 and its inhabitants made their fortune with the processing of tobacco. The tornabuona herb, whose use was condemned by the Pope, was cultivated here for the first time in Italy, and over time the Cospaians drew enormous advantages from its cultivation, fuelling the phenomenon of contraband. The independence of Cospaia ended with the 8th February 1826 agreement between Pope Leone XII and Leopoldo I Lorena. On the 28th June 1826 the Republic made an act of submission to the Pontifical State and every Cospaian a “compensation” of the lost liberty received a “papetto”, a silver coin with the image of Leone XII.