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Pia de Tolomei: Siena meets Dante

As a matter of fact, Pia de Tolomei history fascinates the imagination of artists, writers and song writers for her powerful strength. Dante dedicated her a special attention in his Divina Commedia, telling her story as the one of a young modern woman, killed by her husband, who forgives him, only asking to remember her and dedicate some prayers.

The history of Pia

The real history of Pia starts with her quotation in Dante’s masterpiece. No none really knows about her real existence, even if some ancient sources tell about a woman who married a noble from Maremma and died, maybe for a suicide or for an organized murder, throwing herself from a window of her husband’s castle, named “il salto della contessa”, the jump of the countess.

The figure of Pia has never been proved, there was no Pia during that time, in the Tolomei family, but only a woman named Pia Malevolti, married to a Tolomei noble, killed by the family for her infidelity. As many times in the Divina Commedia, Dante decided to take inspiration from a real history, simply modifying the history in order to complete the collection of the figures he wanted to use to express his idea of human panorama

The plate that is posed in a corner of the Tolomei palace in Siena, an austere building arched, all stone, begun in 1205, and the oldest among the private palaces of Siena, tells that Pia was born in Siena, which made her, and Maremma, the place where her husband’s castle was (Castel di Pietra), destroyed her. A very concise phrase to tell a history of a false betrayal, a very common reason used at those times to get rid of a wife and marry another one.

Siena and Pia

The house of Pia in Siena is still visible. Castel di Pietra and its mysteries are now just ruins in the mid of wild vegetation. But there are those who swear to have seen the shadow of Pia appearing in the ruins of what was once her castle, a vision accompanied by a ping, like a ring that falls on the pavement.

Some others swear to have seen her in moonless nights on the ancient arch bridge that is located near the village of Rosia, a short distance from Siena, known as Ponte della Pia. Here, the white figure, appears motionless and sad, staring at the waters of the river that flows slowly through the woods of holm oak. While the wind gathers her sighs and her pain.

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