The castle of Valsinni is in the province of Matera, in Basilicata, and dates back to 1000a.D. It’s famous because it’s the place where the famous poet Isabella di Morra was borned and lived.
The Morra family came into possession of the castle in the 16th century and owned it until 1638, when it became part of the Rinaldi family’s possessions.
Who was Isabella di Morra?
Isabella di Morra was the daughter of Giovanni Michele di Morra and Luisa Brancaccio. She was educated in literature and poetry since she was a child. When she was 8 years old, her father had to left the family and the country to seek refuge in France because he had supported the French army against the Spanish one during its attempt to conquer the Kingdom of Naples.
After her father left, she lived in the big castle of Valsinni with her mother and her 5 siblings: Scipione, Marcantonio, Decio, Cesare, Fabio and Porzia. Some years later, Scipione, the eldest among her siblings, left as well and went to France, while Marcantonio took over power in the castle.
From then on, Isabella was forced by her brothers to stay in the castle, she could not leave. They granted her a tutor so she could talk about poetry and literature with him but that’s all.
She spent her days writing poems and poetry where she poured/transferred all her feelings and emotions.
What happened to Isabella di Morra?
One day, she had the opportunity to know one of her neighbors: Diego Sandoval de Castro, a published poet, and his wife Antonia Caracciolo. Diego was the second educated man Isabella knew and so, helped by her tutor, she decided to start a secret correspondence with him where they exchanged poems.
Soon rumors about an extra-marital affair started to spread, even if there weren’t proofs that they were more than just friends.
Her brothers didn’t give her the benefit of the doubt and decided that they had to do something to protect and redeem the family honor.
They started with Isabella’s tutor, guilty of helping with the letters exchange. They killed him without any second thought.
Then, it was Isabella’s turn. When they went in her room to confront her, they found her with some of the letters and decided to stab her to death.
Finally, after some time, they took care of Diego as well. They killed him in the woods.
Isabella’s poetry still survives
Thirteen of Isabella’s poems survived to this day. They had to wait until the XXth century to gain some popularity among scholars. But now they are considered some of the most powerful expression of the 16th century Italian literature.
The legend about the castle of Valsinni
The legend about the castle of Valsinni is, of course, linked to Isabella di Morra’s death. It appears that since the day of her death, there are people who swear to have seen a female figure wandering in the castle and in the woods in search for justice.
What do you think about the sad story of Isabella di Morra?
Have you already visited the castle of Valsinni? Did you like it?
Original image by renzofermo