Bianca Maria Malaspina’s sad story at the Fosdinovo Castle

In the sightings, she walks restlessly along the paths of the magnificent manor that once was her home, wrapped in her long brown hair and the full moon’s milky light. 

And no one in Fosdinovo was surprised in 1980 when some castle’s restoration work uncovered the remains of a young woman in a small underground cell. With the poor rests, those of a dog and a boar.

They had to be the remains of the marquise Malaspina Bianca Aloisa, killed by a paternal hand because of a deep and sincere love for a man the destiny of a noble and unhappy woman could not grant her.

Who was Maria Aloisa Malaspina?

We only know a little about the marquise, no portraits of her, no testimony of honor. 

She was born around the half of the 17th century to the Malaspina Marquis James II and Maria Grimaldi. She had four brothers: Ippolito, Pasquale, who inherited the reign, Ferdinando, and Andrea.

Portrait of a young woman *tempera on panel *44 x 32 cm *circa 1490 – 1494

According to some, she had albinism and therefore recluse in her castle. However, albinism is a widespread tradition for undocumented characters of the pastMore likely, the lack of information about Maria Aloisa is because, from the earliest age, she stubbornly refused to marry a nobleman from a neighboring family.

The young and determined woman had fallen in love with the stable man of the fortress and returned sincere love from him.

The father, for punishment, forced her to monastic life. Nevertheless, the young woman refused the votes and continued to meet her great lover, perhaps even getting pregnant.

The noble parent could not withstand the strength of his daughter. Blinded by anger, he had the man killed and, perhaps even after atrocious torture, the girl walled up in the castle’s basement. With her, a boar, the symbol of rebellion to the family, and a dog, a symbol of faithful love.

Since then, screams of terror and visions of women walking in the night in Fosdinovo have been very frequent.

A cruel father yet an honored Malaspina Flowering Branch Lord.

The emblem of the House of Flowering Branch of the Malaspina Family, lords of Lunigiana

To us modern readers of this sad story this parent seems an unhappy one, who did not know how to give Aloisa the love that was due to her as a daughter.

Unfortunately, however, the determined Bianca Maria was simply a victim of her time, in which no woman, especially if emblazoned, was allowed any determination.
Moreover, Giacomo did not seem to have a good relationship with his children, because Andrea was accused of attempted parricide.

And the lord of the flowering branch of the House of the Malaspina, lords of Lunigiana, is among other things well remembered in the history of his family and of the entire region.

Together with his wife he was an important ruler of Fosdinovo, who under his marquisate became the nerve center of the Lunigiana communications, and his increasingly imposing and festive castle: it is said that were dedicated to parties and excesses.

He rebuilt the Oratorio dei Bianchi, burned in 1501 (1641-53), the Marquisate of Gragnola returned to the power of the Malaspina of Fosdinovo (1644) and in 1636 the Castle came to count as many as 800 “fires”.

The magnificent mansion of the Fosdinovo Castle

The Fosdinovo majestic castle increased in size and importance during Giacomo II’s reign.

To contemporary readers of Bianca’s story, this parent appears ill, unable to love his daughter and assure her happiness.

However, the determined Bianca Maria was just a victim of her time, in which no woman, especially noble ones, was entitled to decisiveness.

Moreover, Giacomo did not seem to have a good relationship with his children, as his son Andrea allegedly attempted parricide.

Yet the Malaspina flowering branch lord of Lunigiana is recognized with honor in the history of his noble family and the entire region.

Under Giacomo and his wife’s rule, Fosdinovo became the nerve center of the Lunigiana. As a result, the Fosdinovo castle became a prominent mansion, frequently a location for wild parties, and came to count as many as 800 “fires.”

He rebuilt the Oratorio dei Bianchi, which burned in 1501; in 1644, the Marquisate of Gragnola returned to the Malaspina family.

The magnificent mansion of the Fosdinovo Castle

The Fosdinovo Castle is the best-preserved structure among the fortified dwellings of the Malaspina family. It was the defensive construction of the Castro di Fosdinovo from the 12th century. From the 14th, it was home to the marquis of the Malaspina flowering branch. Its dominant position, with an extraordinary view over the whole valley to the sea, was the basis of the great fief of Lunigiana and saw alternate fortunes until the 18th century.

The castle is now a museum, a cultural center dedicated to producing and disseminating contemporary arts, a residence for artists and writers, and a small and charming bed and breakfast.

Visiting the Fosdinovo Castle

The guided tour takes place on Saturdays and Sundays and lasts about 50 minutes.

Maximum number allowed: 25 people per group.

Be aware that the final part of the visit has steep stairs and crenelated towers. 

Please note that ticket booking is a priority for access. However, buying the entrance ticket directly at the Castle Bookshop is also possible for the remaining availabilities.