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4 legends from the hidden Tuscany you probably don’t know

Explore the secrets of the hidden villages collected in "Toscana Ovunque Bella"

There are some mysterious and scary legends you wouldn’t expect from a place like Tuscany, commonly known for other features like green landscapes, precious hamlets and delicious food. We’re taking you to the darkest part of this region, pointing out the hidden villages examined in depth through the crowd-storytelling project Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere.

  • 1.
    Legend of the Werewolf in Pontremoli
  • 2.
    The Woman's Ghost in Cerreto Guidi
  • 3.
    A bloodshed caused by jealousy in Figline
  • 4.
    The ghost of a long-standing enemy in Nicosia

Legend of the Werewolf in Pontremoli

Do you remember the Legend of the Werewolf? It’s a movie directed by Freddie Francis in the 70’s and based on Guy Endore’s classic novel. Anyway, forget about it!

While in the movie the identity of the man who turns into the beast is quite clear, in Pontremoli there are different suspicions, one or more for every generation. It could have been the baker, a night worker with his ugly characteristics, or the solitary shoemaker, or maybe the foreigner, because nothing’s more frightening than what you don’t know yet.

This uncertainty has put the town in a constant state of anxiety for centuries, especially when, 150 years ago, a strange man was seen approaching. He was half naked and barefoot, he had the fur of a carrion on his shoulders and used to scream at night. This appearance forced the citizens not to go out when the moon was full. They said: “never look him in the eye! You will die on the spot out of fear or he will attack and eat you alive!”.

The Legacy of the man-beast continues on Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere.

pontremoli- tuscany
pontremoli- tuscany - Credit: Gian Marco Tedaldi

The Woman's Ghost in Cerreto Guidi

Another thrilling story comes from Cerreto Guidi. This town is famous for a beautiful Villa Medicea perched on a hill, built for Cosimo I de’ Medici in the second half of the 16th century, and recently became a UNESCO world heritage site.

There, in the rooms of the mansion, still lives the ghost of a woman who cannot rest. The “white lady” is Isabella de’ Medici, the dearest daughter of Cosimo I. Beautiful and well educated, she was engaged to Paolo Giordano Orsini but like most of the arranged marriages, it was loveless. While her husband was away for a military campaign, she fell into the arms of his cousin Troilo who was taking care of her at that time. Unfortunately, this secret relationship was destined to be discovered and the merciless revenge of Paolo Giordano fell upon his wife. When he came back he invited Isabella to the villa and dropped a noose through a hole in the ceiling, strangling her and putting an end to her short life. Beware if you decide to visit the Villa Medicea, you can still see her wandering around.

Read more about this story and Cerreto Guidi treasures on Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere.

cerreto guidi - tuscany
cerreto guidi - tuscany - Credit: courtesy of Cerreto Guidi municipality

A bloodshed caused by jealousy in Figline

There’s another interesting spooky tale, this time in Figline. A bloodshed caused by jealousy and resentment still resonates in this village near Florence.

It’s the violent story of Veronica Cybo, a prayerful but cruel woman born and bred in an influential family. When she came to know about the secret love between her groom – the nobleman Jacopo Salviati – and a woman called Caterina, she decided to recruit a couple of hitmen to “fix it”. On the last day of the year 1633, Caterina was killed and her head was delivered to Jacopo who, in a desperate state, reported the fact to the Granduca.

As a result, Veronica was exiled to Figline and she spent her life in Villa San Cerbone, which now represents the location of a hospital where her spirit still lingers on.

The story of a solitary ghost who lives in the same place and is looking for friends to play with is on Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere.

Villa San Cerbone
Villa San Cerbone - Credit: commemorative plaque in Villa Cerbone by Sailko

The ghost of a long-standing enemy in Nicosia

Tuscany reveals surprises everywhere and sometimes they are particularly unexpected. There’s no space for romance or for the usual beginning “once upon a time” because we’re talking about dark stories linked to the past but somehow still present, (believe it or not!).

It all began in the late 13th century, when the grave of Ugo da Fagiano, the Bishop of Nicosia, was reviled. Afterwards, in the church of Sant’Agostino, the tomb wrecker met the ghost of his long-standing enemy, kneeling on the marble before the altar. This would be the right place for his burial, so Ugo killed the outrageous man and – on the rebound – condemned him to eternally carve his tomb.

Here’s how the story ends, on Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere.

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calci certosa - Credit: marco via flickr

Tuscany Beautiful Everywhere is a project aiming to showcase the region in a new, collaborative way. The idea is to offer the 279 municipalities of Tuscany the chance to work together and write the pages of an incredible collection. The project also aims to spotlight the region’s countless curiosities and the untold stories spread throughout the territory.

It gives the readers the chance to look beyond the obvious routine and to lose themselves in a journey bound by beauty.

All that’s left to do is flip through the pages of this story and let yourself be inspired!

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