The Papafava dei Carraresi is one of the few surviving Italian families which can trace its lineage directly through to the 9th century and much of the genealogical documentation is still preserved in the family archives.
The da Carrara were always in the front line in the defence of communal liberties against Ezzelino da Romano, the powerful legate of Emperor Frederick II. Marsilio da Carrara was one of the leaders of the crusade against Ezzelino which finally liberated Padua from this despot in 1256.
The first member of the da Carrara family to be acclaimed lord of Padua (1318) was Giacomo (who died in 1324).
A valiant warrior, it was he who saved the city from Cangrande della Scala, the lord of Verona.
The silver four soldo coin issued by the da Carrara was one of the most widely accepted pieces of currency in Northern Italy.
The Da Carrara gave shelter to Francesco Petrarca, and the villa at Arquà where the poet died in 1374 was a gift from Francesco I.
Petrarca’s most important political work “De Republica bene administrata” was dedicated to them.
Padua fell to the Venetians in 1405 and Francesco Novello was transferred to the prison of the Piombi in Venice where he was strangled to death, together with his two sons. The Venetians then attempted to methodically destroy the whole family and erase from history any direct evidence of its power.
Teddea Ariosti, widow of Giacomo Papafava da Carrara, cousin and captain of Francesco Novello’s army, had great difficulty defending Frassanelle from the wrath of the Venetians who were seizing all the Carraresi’s properties. Having secured her three children in Florence. She came back to Padua and succeeded in arguing with the Venetians that Frassanelle could not be confiscated because it came into her family heritage through a feminine lineage.