On 24 August, an hour before daybreak, a whirlwind of dense black vapour spreading for about two miles in all directions issued from the upper sea near Ancona, and traversing Italy passed into the lower sea near Pisa. This vapour driven by resistless forces, whether natural or supernatural I know not, and rent and driven in struggles with itself, split off into clouds which, now rising to heaven now descending to earth, dashed one against another, or whirling round with inconceivable velocity before them a wind of measureless violence, and sent forth as they strove together frequent lightnings and dazzling flames. From these clouds thus broken and embroiled, from this furious wind, and these quick-succeeding sheets of flame, came a sound louder than the roar of thunder or earthquake, and so terrible that whosoever heard it thought the end of the world had come, and that land and sea, and all that was left of earth and sky, were returning mingled together to ancient Chaos. Wherever this dreadful whirlwind passed it wrought the most astonishing and unheard-of effects, but more notably than elsewhere near the walled village of San Casciano, situated about eight miles from Florence, on the hill separating the Val di Pesa from the Val di Grieve. Between this town and the village of Sant'Andrea, standing on the same hill, the hurricane swept, not touching Sant'Andrea, and merely grazing the outskirts of San Casciano so as to strike some of the battlements of the walls, and the chimneys of a few houses. But outside, in the space between the two places named, many buildings were levelled with the ground; the roofs of the churches of San Martino at Bagnuolo, and of Santa Maria della Pace, were borne bodily to a distance of more than a mile; and a carrier and his mules were found dead, some way from the road, in the neighbouring valley. The strongest oaks and the sturdier trees which would not stoop before the fury of the blast, were not merely uprooted but carried far away from the places where they grew. When the tempest had passed and morning broke, men remained stunned and stupfied. They saw their fields devastated and destroyed, their houses and churches laid in ruins, and heard the lamentations of those who looked on shattered homesteads under which their kinsmen or their cattle lay dead. Which sights and sounds filled all who say or heard of them with the profoundest pity and fear. But doubtless it was God's will rather to threaten than to chastise Tuscany; for had a hurricane like this, instead of coming among oaks, and alders, and thinly scattered dwellings, burst upon the close-packed houses and crowded population of a great city, it would assuredly have wrought the most terrible ruin and destruction that the mind of man can conceive.
The exiled Sienese came against their city, as far as the fortress of Sitorno, but were unable to do anything. The citizens took many prisoners from the fortress and carried them into Siena.
In these days the Florentines destroyed a fortress in the upper valley of the Arno, called Monte Domenici, because it had rebelled.
During this August of 1483, the Duke of Calabria captured many fortresses in Lombardy from the Venetians,(1) and crushed the Venetian troops in such a manner that they could not hold out any longer. This occurred because the Church had excommunicated all those who gave aid to the Venetians, which prevented them having soldies from beyond the Alps. And the fleet of the King of Naples came into the port of Ancona, and that of the Venetians set out to find it. But on the 5th September, the king's fleet sailed away without waiting for their opponents. Great things had been expected if they had encountered each other.
> (1) From the 12th December, 1482, the Pope had made peace with the League, and then associated himself with it in the war against Venice.