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  • The Little Blue One
    (Crime of Heart)

    By Marzia Volpones

    The Territory of Rimini, once the Malatesta Seignory, is marked by two legends: the "Crime of Heart" to the North-West in the Montebello fortress in the Marecchia Valley and the "Crime of Honour" in the Castle of Gradara to the South of Rimini.

    Our first legend is titled "Crime of Heart" and it is the tale of Azzurrina, the Little Blue One, which took place in the close- by castle of Montebello.

    Azzurrina could not have found a better place than Montebello to make her fairytale-legend-truth grow through time. Only one road leads into the intact medieval village guarded by a fortified gate. The fortress raises solitary on the left bank of the Marecchia in a fiercely isolated position with the river in the valley broadening into a wide loop all around the huge rock. The military character of the place must have been recognized even in ancient times since its name derives from Mons Belli the Mount of War. Nowadays the mount of the most famous ghost in the area: Azzurrina or the Little Blue One.

    1375. The sun is shining brightly in this hot midsummer day. The maidens are flocking around like bees; the big cuisine in the Montebello Castle is on work. All the servants are bustling around for this evening party: the party of the solstice of summer.

    Guendalina, daughter of Ugolinuccio Malatesta, the Master of the castle is buzzing around. Her clear voice rejoices along the castle halls, the secret corridors and the banquet rooms.

    She woke up early. Just to keep her quiet, Guendalina was given a new red rag ball as a present to play with. She loved to play with the new gift: see it rolling, rolling...

    Guendalina was endowed with a special nickname: Azzurrina, the Little Blue One. Her white hair dyed dark blue; to disguise her "anomaly" The child was believed to have been albino, with pale skin and blue eyes. She could do whatever she wanted but leaving the castle whose walls and halls, let her grow up safely, protecting her from the hot sun and from the outer world.

    The Little Blue One was told that the summer solstice day was special. This day the fairies would come and see the "good children" making all their wishes come true. Azzurrina had been longing for that day, longing for her dreams to be: to have a little mate of her age to play with. To make time go by, Guendalina started playing with her red rag ball. She started bouncing it, kicking it, seeing it rolling, rolling.

    She was excited for the great banquet which would take place this very evening and which she had permission to attend. She could stay up till 7 o'clock no longer, because after dark, the fairies would disappear and the witches would rule the night. "Witches are no good for kiddies" she was told.

    "Guendalina come, come here please. I've got some to tell you." "OK, daddy, let me play with my ball just a little bit more, please, daddy, please".

    I'm brave" she thought. She kicked the ball as strong as she could. The rag ball started to roll down the stairs, through the corridor, down and down, ever more down, down. The child's laughter was rolling down with the ball.

    After some time her father asked the guards who were supposed to be keeping watch were was Azzurrina. No one knew but they say she loved to play hide and seek, they would find her.

    The summer solstice passed on, but the Little Blue One couldn't be found. The day after the guards searched for her in the underground passages, calling out her name. No answer, no child was found in the dungeons. Who could hide in those dark, filthy and scary places? The guards were ordered to search again. Day after day they did look for her. Suddenly one of them stopped and listened. A little voice seemed to be heard coming out from the darkness saying "dad, dad, I'm here! My rag ball..." "I found her" - thought the guard. He started to move quickly toward the place, the torchlight hardly lightened the way in the underground passage while the guard's shadow depicted on the wall was getting bigger and bigger and even more frightful as he was slowly proceeding on.

    Neither Guendalina, nor her red rag ball was there. The guards failed to find Azzurrina and were condemned to death. No death could ever replace the desperate sorrow of the heart of the Little Blue One's father. What a crime was losing her beloved child. What a crime for his heart.

    The legend says that every five years at the summer solstice, her slight figure holding a red rag ball in her hands appears among the castle walls. Light footsteps, sighs and cries are heard and her voice saying "Dad, dad, I'm here".

    Recordings, film and the intervention of mediums have all been used in an attempt to document something, but ghosts, as we know, are often shy and fleeting.

    That's all for now, see you next time with A Crime of Honour.

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