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Wandering among castles, fortresses and ducal palaces: history and trivia

Updated: Sep 18, 2023

The Duchy of Parma, Piacenza and Guastalla

At least one ghost cannot be missing in a castle

The Parma area between the right bank of the Po river (the "Bassa" / "Lowland") and the passes of the Tuscan-Emilian Apennines is a territory rich in legends and myths in most cases originated from the complex historical events that have taken place over the centuries. Real events mixed with popular fantasies tell of ancient tormented loves that ended in tragedy, personal vendettas and murders that went unpunished, fortune-tellers and witches. Generally they are stories of great charm and suggestion that refer to the beliefs of the past, linked to fears and amazement in the face of the unfathomable mysteries of history and nature.

The ghost of Lady Cinderella portends bad events

According to a highly accredited popular legend, in the fortress of the Meli-Lupi Marquises of SORAGNA would be around the ghost of the beautiful Cassandra Marinoni from Brescia, Lady Cinderella according to popular memories, both for the ash blonde color of her long hair, and because in her apparitions the ghost takes on an ashy color). She was the wife of Marquis Diofebo II Meli-Lupi, and has been brutally murdered in 1573 by a number of dagger, while she was together with her sister Lucrezia, perhaps the real target of the crime. Lady Cinderella died the next day the tragic fact and received solemn burial. We know that the perpetrator of the crime was her brother in law (a bad guy addicted to violence and squandering), but the causes of the murder were unknown and the crime went unpunished.

It is said that since then, during full moon nights the specter of poorLady Cinderella is showing signs of its presence by strange things happen inside the castle, heralding the imminent adverse events.

The gentle Fairy Bema appears to lovers

In the castle of MONTECHIARUGOLO many look for the fairy caress of the beautiful Fairy Bema who should appear to young women on the eve of their wedding, to engaged couples, or to those who are in love but suffering and looking for consolation.

A legend tells that in the far1593 a girl named Bema arrived in Montechiarugolo, a hamlet located in the lower hilly area. She was a young and fascinating soothsayer who has been attributed supernatural powers. Thus the young woman began to predict the future to those who turned to her near the woods that surrounded the castle and which were the hunting reserve of Duke Ranuccio Farnese. Attracted by the beauty and the supposed powers of the girl, the gloomy Duke allowed the girl to frequent the castle, granting her a safe conduct to circulate freely in the Farnese territory. But it was not long before Ranuccio, overwhelmed by the fear of having been manipulated by a spell, decided to get rid of the young soothsayer by having her locked up in a prison in the city of Parma. After a long and harsh imprisonment, the young woman was then freed at the end of her strength thanks to the benevolence of the people and, returning to Montechiarugolo, Bema was hired as a maid to the noble and wealthy Torelli family. The girl and Pio Torelli - who was the son of the head of the Torelli family - ended up falling in love. However, aware of an impossible love, Bema did not indulge his heart and refused the courtship of Pio who, therefore, was sent by his father to the College of Nobles in Parma to finish his studies. Meanwhile the hour of the alleged conspiracy against the Duke Ranuccio Farnese was approaching. Finally, the Duke fearing the numerous and powerful feudal lords of the Duchy (including the Torelli family), staged a specious conspiracy against his person and through a cruel and harsh use of torture, he managed to extort numerous false confessions. Thus, all those arrested, including the young Pio Torelli, on May 19, 1612 were beheaded just in front of the Palace of the Court of Justice in Parma and their severed heads were impaled as a warning to the city. The castle of Montechiarugolo was entirely occupied by a garrison of Farnese soldiers and Bema, desperate for the death of her beloved Pio, found refuge in a small house near the castle. For the rest of her days she devoted herself to helping the poorest and most needy people in the area.

So this is the story of the Fairy Bema. Legend has it that from her death to today, every 19 May she returns to walk among the ramparts of the castle dressed in white, and at midnight she is heard crying for the love so tragically lost. It seems that the mummy found in the dungeons of the castle are the remains of the unfortunate young soothsayer. And it is also said that every time someone tried to move it from its original location, the ghost of Bema took revenge with catastrophic events (earthquakes, floods and plagues).

Moroello, the ghost in love The legend refers the tragic love story between a young lady of the castle of BARDI (the sixteen year old Soleste) and a brave soldier at the fortress (the knight Moroello).

As the famous characters of Romeo and Juliet, these two lovers have been the victims of a fatal misunderstanding and gave death by jumping from one of the towers of the castle.

When the knight Moroello had to leave for a war, Soleste every day went to the tower of the castle to scan the horizon and check if her beloved knight was coming back home. Finally, one day she saw appear on the horizon militias rosing up the flags of the enemy army. Soleste seized by despair because imagining her Moroello died in battle, threw immediately herself from the tower. So, the girl would never know that the militias she spotted on the horizon were those of Moroello who had given orders to hoist the banners of the enemies as a sign of defiance after the victory. Arriving at the castle, the poor knight tormented by guilt killed himself by jumping from the same tower from which, shortly before, his beloved Soleste had thrown. Since then, numerous legends handed down over the centuries refer to mysterious sightings of the ghost of Moroello which is wandering restlessly through the rooms of the fortress that was the scene of his unhappy love. It is said that the Moroello's ghost is sometimes accompanied by a melancholy melody barely noticeable. It is also said that in a particular area of the castle often one has the feeling of being touched by icy gusts of wind, inexplicable as the shape of the rooms, at that point, do not allow drafts of any kind.

The White Lady who protects the most secret passions of lovers

Lady Bianca Pellegrini (aka Wee-White Lady) was a very beautiful, passionate and seductive noblewoman with magnificent green eyes and long and soft black hair. She fell in love at first sight with the aristocrat Milord Pier Maria Rossi, a courageous knight in the service of the dukes of Milan, on whose behalf he led numerous military campaigns, achieving fame and success. Both Milord Pier Maria and Wee-White Lady were married and had children by their respective spouses. But being the two lovers with a very passionate temperament, they needed a place to meet. Thus it was that the noble knight welcomed his beloved lady in one of his most sumptuous residences: the castle of TORRECHIARA.

It is said that on full moon nights the ghost of Pier Maria Rossi returns again to the road that leads to the entrance of the Castle, reciting the motto dedicated to his beloved: Nunc et semper (i.e. Now and forever). The motto is still legible today on the ribbon that binds the two hearts intertwined with the initials of Bianca and Pier Maria, in the fresco of the 'Golden Room' of the Castle, the place where the deep gaze of Wee-White Lady had captivated the noble knight.

Poltergeist at the Pallavicino Castle?

During 2013 there were two inspections at the Pallavicino Castle of VARANO MELEGARI: the first showed in the main tower an anthropomorphic figure, half bent, whose legs, trunk and head can be distinguished, while in the dining room a silhouette of a figure with a human face emerged from the darkness of the background. The audio analysis of the second inspection reported two anomalies, both detected by a microphone fixed on the stairs: a) a deep breath, with amplitude and intensity much higher than normal, b) a short blow with a rather low tone.

n any case, in addition to these instrumental analyzes, a sorceress also reported that she felt the proximity of an entity that could have been a very young girl, named Beatrice, in a white dress. A quick historical verification brought to light the name of Beatrice Pallavicino, a young noblewoman who lived in the castle and who died at the age of 21 after having had four children. Could she be the same figure 'perceived' by the sorceress?

The traces of blood on the fireplace

The Rossi Castle of SAN SECONDO also holds its mystery. It is said that for centuries a girl has wandered inside the manor around midnight, looking like a ghost. She had not yet turned twenty when she was killed because she was against the advances of one of the young offspring of the Rossi family who lived in the castle. As evidence of the place where she was killed, the trace of blood on the fireplace of the Sala di Latona would still be visible.

Unfortunately, the identity of the young woman has not yet been revealed.



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