Palazzo Ducale di Mantova

Ducal Palace - The ghost of Agnese Visconti

The Ducal Palace of Mantua, also known as the Gonzaga palace, is one of the main historical buildings of the city. It was famous for being from 1308 the official residence of the lords of Mantua, the Bonacolsi, and then the main residence of the Gonzaga, lords, marquises and finally dukes of the Virgilian city.

Each duke wanted to add a wing for himself and for his own works of art. The result is an area of more than 35,000 square meters that make it the sixth largest palace in Europe. It is right after the Vatican palaces, the Louvre Palace, the Palace of Versailles, the Royal Palace of Caserta and the Castle of Fontainebleau.
Like all historical buildings that have crossed the centuries, the Ducal Palace also boasts its secrets, its anecdotes and above all ... its ghosts.

In what is now Piazza Pallone, the courtyard of the Ducal Palace, a plaque commemorates the sad death of Agnese Visconti. She was the unfortunate wife of Francesco I Gonzaga, who was unjustly tried by him on false charges of adultery. The accusations were based on the presumed adultery of Agnese with the knight Antonio da Scandiano. The sentence for both was inevitable: the death penalty. And so it was that on the morning of February 7, when she was only 28 years old, Agnese was beheaded while Antonio was hanged.

It is said that the ghost of the young girl still wanders in these parts and there are many who claim to have heard the cry of a woman passing in the square. While others claim to have seen at night, between the windows of the Castle and the Palace, a sort of ghostly light that went up and down between the rooms.

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fantasma di Azzurrina

Castle of Montebello - The ghost of Azzurrina

The legend of the ghost of Azzurrina, who is said to dwell in the castle of Montebello di Torriana, is based as often happens on a true story.

Born around 1370, Azzurrina would have been the daughter of Ugolinuccio or Uguccione di Montebello, feudal lord of Montebello di Torriana. She would have died prematurely on June 21, 1375, the day of the summer solstice.
It is said that she was an albino child and that her mother decided to periodically dye her hair black. However, since she dyed it with extremely volatile pigments of vegetable nature, these, accomplice the scarce ability of albino hair to retain the pigment, had given to the hair of the child blue reflections like her eyes. This is the origin of her nickname "Azzurrina".

It is said that on June 21, 1375, while her father was away from his residence, Azzurrina, always guarded by two soldiers, was playing in the castle of Montebello di Torriana with a ball of rags while a storm was raging outside. According to the subsequent account of the guards, the little girl would have chased the ball that had fallen from the stairs inside the underground ice-house, with the intention of recovering it. After that, she literally disappeared into thin air and no trace of her or the ball was ever found again. The storm would have ceased with the disappearance of Azzurrina.

Since then, the ghost of the little girl returns to make her voice heard every five years, coinciding with the fall of the summer solstice.
The solstice of 1990 became famous. The Castle of Montebello had been open to the Museum for only one year, nevertheless, the legend was already in the public domain. There were those who blindly supported it, those who contested it, those who feared it, but everyone talked about it. On June 21, sound technicians interested in these episodes made the first recordings through the use of sophisticated equipment. All frequencies were recorded. In the studio, it was decided to proceed to listening: thunder, a violent downpour of rain, then ... a sound.

Even today, those who listen to those recordings have different reactions. Some claim to hear the cry of a little girl, others a laugh, many say they hear a voice, distinguish a word, many others claim to hear nothing more or less than wind and rain in the storm. The ghost of Azzurrina, however, does not stop talking about itself.

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