Lucida Mansi



 

 

In Lucca, and the area which surrounds it, there are many legends which tell of the beautiful Lucida Mansi. According to these legends, she was a very pretty young woman who knew exactly how to use her charms and good looks to seduce one lover after another. It has also been said that she allegedly killed her husband so that she would be free to lead a more glamourous life, revolving around luxurious clothes and precious jewels. She loved herself so much that she had to be constantly surrounded by mirrors so that the image of her beautiful, curvacious figure was always in sight, everywhere she looked: on the walls, in her prayer book and even on the ceiling above her bed.

However, as we all know, time is unforgiving as far as physical beauty is concerned and as time went on, everything that Lucida had ever relied on to get her way in life began to deteriorate. Age started to rear its ugly head with wrinkles beginning to line her beautiful face, a fact which she detested intensely. And so what did she do when faced with the frightening prospect of ageing? As cosmetic surgery ceased to exist in this era, the incredibly vain Lucida did not think twice about contacting the Devil for help in her desperation to find eternal youth. The devil was indeed very happy to strike up a dark deal with her and so they agreed that in exhange for her soul the Devil would give her 30 years of ulterior youth.

Thirty years of parties, magnificent clothes and numerous lovers passed by and the Devil returned to claim what was rightfully his, dragging a hysterical Lucida down into the depths of Hell. The two of them fell into an abyss, the entrance to which opened out in the floor inside Palazzo Mansi. In fact, the entrance to this famous infernal hole was impossible to close for a long period of time and a ring indicating the former entrance is still visible even today in the so-called Camera degli Sposi, one of the main bedrooms of Palazzo Mansi.

According to another legend, it is said that during her wild days on Earth, the treacherous Lucida actually set a trap of very sharp knives aimed to kill the endless stream of lovers to her house, after they had satisfied the lady of the house of course. The motive behind this truly evil trap was simply to allow Lucida to conduct the loose lifestyle that she loved so much without the bad reputation which usually comes with it. The idea, as evil as it was, was that if she killed her many lovers then they would never be able to tell others the sordid details of her private life. While some say that this trap say that this trap can be found in the exact spot of the circular burnt entrance to hell, others argue that it was actually placed under the floor of the Catureglio Castle, another property belonging to the Mansi family, near to Borgo a Mozzano.

However, being just as restless after her death as she was when she was alive, it seems that the beautiful Lucida did not even manage to find peace after her death. Many claim that her ghost often appears at night, completely nude riding a blazing chariot along the walls of Lucca, all the way to a small lake in the Botanical vegetable gardens, situated on a cursed site which used to be a burial ground for the corpses of executed prisoners, non-believers and victims of the plague. Those who look closely might even be lucky enough to see the reflection of Lucida’s beautiful face in the water of the lake, just like in one of her many mirrors, or hear her breathing.

Some believe that her ghost only resides in the places that are in some way linked to the Mansi family. In particular, the Palazzo Mansi, where the aforementioned Camera degli Sposi can be found, next to a portrait of the beautiful Lucida. Also, in the Catureglio Castle in the splendid Mansi Villa in Segromigno and in the gravel banks of the Sana Tower in Garfagnana. Many men tell of having met the ghost of Lucida and falling madly in love with her.

Lucida Mansi is, without a doubt, one of the most famous ghosts throughout the whole of Tuscany. However, there is actually very little evidence to show that anyone of this name has ever lived. The closest anyone has ever come up with is the identification by several researchers of a certain Lucida Saminiati. She was born in 1606 and married to a man named Vicenzo Diversi when she was younger than 20, who died not long after having been assassinated during a land dispute. She then agreed to marry the 40 year old Noble Gaspare di Nicolao Mansi, who died of the plague in 1649. However, no concrete evidence has ever emerged to support this hazy identification.

So, the legend of the woman who sold her soul to the devil in exchange for just a few years of youth remains a mystery. Yet, her spirit is still very much alive as, being so attached to her former lifestyle, she still frequently visits all those places that she loved so much whilst she was alive, even after her death.

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