Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Mistress of the Poggio Catino Palazzo

Imagine waking up in your own baronial palazzo in the quiet town of Poggio Catino 45 km northeast of Rome. You are greeted each morning to panoramic views of bucolic hilltops and the warm sun melting your worries away. You have a steaming cappuccino in one hand (or a glass of vino in my dream sequence) and a good book (of course) in the other hand. No screaming kids. No obnoxious bosses. Just you and the sweet aroma of crocus flowers filling the air (and possibly a handsome naked serving boy named Fabio). Your world could not be more peaceful.

Then, you find a 16th century skeleton loitering in your basement. Named the “Poggio Catino Skeleton”, it was discovered in 1933 in a cell beneath the ruins of the tower by its owner, Vincenzo Biraghi. It is believed to be a woman and judging by the shackles around her wrists and ankles, her bent knee position, and her less than cheerful living quarters...she most likely bit it hard.

According to one legend, the woman was the wife of Geppo Colonna, the lord of Poggio Catino. Supposedly, Miss Colonna had an illicit affair with another nobleman of Poggio Catino. As they say in Italy...idea stupida! Her jealous husband discovered the dalliance and locked her up in an underground cell where she most likely starved to death.

You can read more about the Poggio Catino Skeleton and see several other creepy artifacts at the Museo Criminologico.


Susan Higginbotham said...

Eek! Did the owner stay on the premises after that jolly discovery?

Bearded Lady said...

I have no idea. But I can't imagine that finding a torture chamber in your house would increase your property value.

Elizabeth said...

The Italians were pretty good at revenge - poor woman!

Stella da Genova said...

Some of those Italian men got as good as they gave: as in the case of Francesca Bentivoglio, daughter of the lord of Bologna (Giovanni II Bentivoglio). She hired assassins to murder her unfaithful husband, galeotto Manfredi, ruler of Rimini. She was later absolved (as a matter of political expediency) by Pope Innocent VIII.

Bearded Lady said...

Brooke - that is so funny. I was just reading about her last week.

I am so addicted to Italian history lately because so much has not been uncovered yet. I joke with my Italian speaking husband that he has to take me to the Vatican Archives and translate everything for me before I die. I can't speak a word of Italian (unless you count my hidden gelato ordering skills)

Stella da Genova said...

Ooops! Correction to my post: Galeotto Manfredi was ruler of Faenza, not Rimini - sorry for the typo. Rimini was ruled by another noble family of the Renaissance ruler, the Malatesta Sometimes I confuse the the cities of the Romagna before Cesare Borgia arrived on the scene to put and end to the intricate web of noble families and alliances. Malatesta sticks in my mind because it was a young and beautiful Dorotea Malatesta (married Caracciolo) who was abducted by Cesare Borgia during his campaigns in the Romagna c. 1499-1501. Apparently she was his prisoner (or of one of his commanders) for 2 years!

Another rowdy raucous renaissance royal!