A Tragic Love Story at Fosdinovo Castle

A Tragic Love Story at Fosdinovo Castle

A Tragic Love Story at Fosdinovo Castle

Is the story of Bianca just a legend? If so how can we explain the strange discovery of bones in the depths of Fosdinovo castle?

The story of Bianca Maria Aloisia

Fosdinovo, lying on the border of Tuscany and Liguria, boasts a marvellous castle rooted on top of a rocky hill. For centuries it has been home to the kingdom of the Malaspina family. It was here at Fosdinovo Castle some years ago there was a discovery of bones that were later revealed to be the remains of a human, probably a woman, and two animals of different species. This discovery has strange connections with what the people of Fosdinovo believed to be only a legend: the story of Bianca Maria Aloisia. Bianca, a young Malaspina, lived in the middle of the 13th century. Despite her standing, she fell in love with a stable hand of the castle.

The love between the two young people began with secret meetings but it turned out to be profound and sincere. Imagine their reaction when Bianca’s father, a powerful lord of Fosdinovo, announced that Bianca had been promised in matrimony to a knight from the nearby region. The young girl opposed the marriage with all her might and declared her eternal love for the stable hand. However her father could not accept such dishonour and sent her off to a monastic life in a nearby convent.

Bianca became the scandal on everyone’s lips

The girl continued to have secret encounters with the stable hand at the convent and according to one account she fell pregnant. Another version of events told how she simply refused to take her vows. In any case she was turned away from the convent and sent back to the castle. Bianca became the scandal on everyone’s lips: nobles and peasants did nothing but talk of her. The Malaspina family, with wounded pride, decided to silence the story in the cruellest way possible.

The stable hand suffered a thousand tortures and was eventually killed and Bianca did not fare any better. Dragged into the dungeons of the castle she was tortured with red-hot irons and diabolical machines that twisted her limbs. She was asked to repent and accept the order, but the young woman, at the limit of her strengths kept her strong will and did not renounce her love. Her father, blinded by rage, finally condemned her to the worst punishment possible. Some guards put her on her feet and forced her to walk down long passageways until finally reaching a small, dark room. They tied her with a chain that allowed her to take just a few steps and brick by brick they buried her alive. Bianca died in the darkness of the underground passageways, but she wasn’t alone. Her father buried her together with two animals: a wild boar as a symbol of her rebellion against the family rules, and a dog as a symbol of her loyalty to her eternal love.

Who do the remains discovered in the castle belong to?

The story had always appeared to be just a legend of human barbarity, but if so who do the remains discovered in the castle belong to? Are those human bones mixed with animal bones just a coincidence? And there is more, a disturbing detail visible to everyone. On the ceiling of one of the throne room of the Malaspina castle, one can see a white damp patch which appears to be the face of a woman surrounded by two black patches. On closer inspection the two black patches show a dog and a wild boar. Just below these there is another patch: that of a king’s crown. Another coincidence? An optical illusion? Go to Malaspina Castle, walk along its hallways, go down the endless stairs, breath the air that barely comes in through tiny windows, and judge for yourselves.

The visit

Written documents date the Malaspina Castle of Fosdinovo back to 1084. It stands in a position that has always been strategic down through the years for the control of both the sea and the important Apennine roads and passes used in medieval times.

The castle underwent a lot of restructuring down through the years. Halfway through the 14th Century the bridge house was expanded with round towers and turrets and cutaway embattlements. Other towers and ramparts were subsequently added. The courtyard comes from the Renaissance period. The embrasures for the canons and loopholes for the firearms date back to the same period. Externally the structure presented itself as an impregnable fortress, while internally it maintained the appearance of a refined noble residence.

The castle still preserves its square structure with four towers to this day, as well as a semi-circular rampart, two internal courts, long walkways, open galleries and hanging gardens. The castle is divided internally into a large number of rooms: the dining room, the throne room, the grand hall, the trapdoor room (there used to be three), the torture room, the weapons room and Dante Alighieri’s room. From the castle, especially from the ramparts, one can enjoy a breathtaking view of the surrounding area: the Alpi Apuane Mountains, the Tyrrhenian coast, the Gulf of La Spezia, and on a clear day you can see as far as the Capraia and Gorgona islands, as well as the mountains of Corsica.


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