The legend of Azzurrina
It is definitely a legend, a story with a true core which, however, is not set down in the chronicles, and was told by many people who added something extra every time until the story seemed like something completely different!
Little Guendalina Malatesta was the daughter of Ugolinuccio da Montebello, lord over a castle on a mountain top near Torriana in the Riminese region around the mid-1300s.
Guendalina is an albino, but beautiful. Who knows what the people at the time thought about albinos: agent of the devil, magic!
Without television (those lucky people!) and only the gossip from town criers and the like instead of newspapers, they simply had to tell each other something, perhaps something they heard somewhere, in a shop, on the streets or the fields, many months after the event.
For three hundred years, people told… stories!
In 1600, a parish priest wrote down this story and other popular stories from the valley.
- From the priest’s story, it seems that the father always made sure little Guenda had two guards at her side and did not allow her to leave the house because of the superstitions of the people.
- The mother agreed with him in her understandable desire to raise her daughter who was so different. She dyed her hair with vegetable colours which gave off some blue shine like her wonderful blue eyes. And so she was called Azzurrina.
- On June 21, 1375, the day of summer solstice, Azzurina played in the castle with a cloth ball because the weather outside was bad. Of course, as always she was accompanied by her two guards. The girls followed the ball when it fell into a subterranean chamber under a trapdoor.
- The guards heard a cry, they went to see, but they didn't find her, neither Guendalina nor the ball!
- Azzurrina is still in the castle, though (which today is called the Rocca dei Guidi di Bagno) and she cries out on every summer solstice every five years when the number of the year ends on a 0 or a 5!
The owners restored the castle in 1989; and it is now open to the public for a fee.
Of course, various attempts have been made to record the sounds heard at the right times every five years, and they have been studied carefully to see if any sound produced by Azzurrina’s ghost under that infamous trapdoor could be discerned.
The recordings are usually played at the end of a guided tour, and what do you hear?
Even in this version, I, the narrator, have left out something and added an element of my own, thus continuing the writing of the legend!!