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Love Legends in the Castles of Emilia-Romagna

by /// February 1, 2024
Estimated reading time: 3 minutes







Margherita, Soleste, Bema: : three Queens of Hearts and Castles

If you want to get to know suggestive love stories, you can add three beautiful castles in Emilia-Romagna to your list of places to visit: the Castrocaro Fortress, the Bardi Castle and the Montechiarugolo Castle.

In each of these three castles live the memories and stories of three very young women – Margherita, Soleste and Bema – who, although they knew and experienced great love in their lives, were unfortunately not lucky enough to have a happy ending.

Legend has it that the spirits of these maidens still wander the ancient dwellings as gentle presences, searching for their loved ones.

  • Castrocaro Fortress
  • Castello di Bardi (PR) Ph. Laura Zago via shutterstock
  • Castello di Montechiarugolo (PR), Ph. D-VISIONS via shutterstock solo uso editoriale

Margherita dei Conti and the Fortress of Castrocaro (Forlì)

At the beginning of the 13th century in Romagna there was a bloody struggle between the related families of the Counts Calboli of Forlì and the Counts of Castrocaro.

In 1253, in order to put an end to this serious enmity and the numerous crimes, Pope Innocent IV authorized the marriage of two young cousins belonging to the two opposing factions: Guidone dei Calboli and Margherita dei Conti.

However, Margherita’s parents had not taken into account their daughter’s feelings. The girl had a reciprocal love for another young man, and therefore stubbornly refused to marry her cousin Guidone.

Despite her firm refusal, political expediency prevailed over Margherita’s love, and the wedding date was set.

The young woman saw her intense dream of love vanish and, filled with deep grief, she came to the extreme of refusal. She chose the highest tower of the castle and, on a windy, moonless night, she fell into the void, ending her young and unhappy life.

It is still said that on certain moonless nights, her cries of love can be heard, carried by the wind down into the valley.

To visit the Castrocaro Fortress:

Soleste, Moroello and the Bardi Castle (Parma)

It is the end of the 15th century; a young castle girl, the beautiful 16-year-old Soleste, is in love with the cavalier Moroello.

Their story is closely linked to the history of Bardi Castle in the Parma Apennines. The two lovers are still compared to a kind of Romeo and Juliet of Emilia.

Imagine: from the top of the keep she waited for her beloved Moroello to return from battle; he, returning victorious, chose to wear the enemy’s insignia as a sign of triumph.

But Soleste, seeing them, interpreted them as a terrible defeat, a sign of her beloved’s certain death, and in despair she threw herself from the tower.

He, having discovered the tragedy and the death of his beloved Soleste, decided to kill himself.

To visit the Bardi Castle:

Fairy Bema and the Montechiarugolo Castle (Parma)

Legend has it that the image of the Fairy Bema, a clairvoyant and tarot card reader, is associated with young brides-to-be, fiancés or newlyweds.

She first came to Montechiarugolo in 1593 to practice her magical art and, according to legend, she performed on a stage set up in the castle surrounded by woods where Ranuccio Farnese, the fourth Duke of Parma, went hunting.

During the “show”, the fairy asked him to read his palm. Fearing that he had fallen under a spell, Ranuccio – who was truly afraid of occult – ordered the girl arrested and imprisoned in the fortress prison, and condemned her lover, Pio Torelli, to death for conspiracy.

The Duke’s power, however, could do nothing against the sweetness of the fairy Bema, who lived out her days in Montechiarugolo, loved by the people of the village, so much so that today she is remembered as a friendly spirit who appears to young women on the eve of their wedding to teach them about their new life.

It is said that on the night of 18 May, the ghost of the fairy Bema appears in the private rooms of the castle. The beautiful maiden returns to her castle, hoping to see the man she loves again, and appears to young women on the eve of their wedding to teach them about their new lives.

To visit the Montechiarugolo Castle:

Castello di Montechiarugolo (PR) Ph. Kate Krav-Rude via shutterstock solo uso editoriale
Castello di Montechiarugolo (PR) | Ph. Kate Krav-Rude, via shutterstock


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