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Il Masso di Mandringa
natureNaturalistic attractions

The Madringa boulder

Volterra is home to a very special place: the Madringa boulder. This mass of rock sits over a spring where it is said that witches gather at night!

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This little known spot appears to the naked eye as a simple mass of rock with a small opening which leads down to an underground spring. However, there is a story relating to this boulder in the book ‘Volterra magica e misteriosa’ (Mysterious and Magical Volterra), a story that can also be found on the internet.
This is the tale…
It was easy for Saint Barbato to chop down the ancient Benevento walnut tree, and in doing so to scatter the thousands of witches who were gathered there. However, he encountered such difficulties in Volterra that he almost gave up hope of ever being able to banish these evil pupils of Satan from Mandringa. The witches gathered there on Saturday evenings. Cutting down the walnut tree in Benevento and building a church on the same spot was nothing next to the task of destroying the immense rocky boulder on the road to Badia. The boulder under which the witches gathered seemed immoveable and was covered in ivy, brambles and woodbine. The purest crystal clear water flowed from beneath the boulder, water which had been considered the best water in the whole area.
‘Whomsoever rinses their bed sheets / in the Docciola, should draw their water from the Mandringa’ wrote the poet D’Annunzio in his ‘Forse che sì forse che no’.
During the day the boulder was surrounded by women coming and going to gather this precious water. During the evening however, in particular on Saturday evenings, just as the nearby town clock chimed midnight, a gentle and spine-tingling rustling sound could be heard in the sulphuric air. This sound would be followed by a more intense noise which marked the macabre beginning of the witches dance. Men, women and children listened petrified in their beds to these sounds and to the screeching voices of the witches. They especially listened out for the frightening sounds which announced the arrival of evil spirits. Nobody left their houses.
Extract translated from ‘Volterra magica e misteriosa’ by Franco Porretti.

Journey to the oldest town in Tuscany
Volterra has an unmistakable Medieval character, where the atmosphere of an ancient village can still be felt and whose authenticity is protected by the relative isolation that has limited the development of the city center in the industrial era, safeguarding the city from urban speculation. ...