Ava was a figure held dear by her local population, so much so that even today in Montemaggio, people still tell stories about the noblewoman. It’s said that when people would pass over the mountain, caught up in their thoughts and hunting for solutions to their problems, they’d run into a woman dressed in old-fashioned clothing, a woman who’d catch their eyes and then smile at them: this was Countess Ava, who would solve their problems by sending one of her seven maids, each one of whom had a special gift.
Firmina and Arania were the maids who dealt with everyday family life. Firmina had a passion for sounds: listening to the wind, the rain and the chirps of birds creating magnificent songs, which would often be heard – as a good omen –exclusively by brides on their wedding days. Later on in their lives, these women, who had by then become mothers, would once again need one of Ava’s maids: Arania. She was very good with children: when they’d get sick, or when they'd throw tantrums, she’d bring them some “pope”, a type of doll made with fabric, wood or corn cobs, which had the power to cure them of any sickness or make them fall asleep if they were throwing a fit.
Aranda and Lucilla were two maidens associated with the dream world who were very precious to Ava. Aranda loved sleeping and had many dreams that were later revealed to be premonitions. Her gift was very important because she predicted an epidemic in the swampland; this way, Ava was able to save her town by moving all the people to the highest area of Montagnola. Lucilla was a dreamer, spending the night observing the sky and recreating drawings that depicted the stars in diverse periods; when an astronomer, following a cardinal, came to visit the castle and see Lucilla’s designs, he was amazed, and told her the names of the constellations.
Oletta, Nina and Arella were three maidens associated with nature. Arella loved plants and flowers and was always discovering more of them; indeed, she found some green roses that she called “evergreen” – they even had curative powers. Ava got Arella to show all her subjects these plants’ properties, and the local population quickly put them to use. Then there was Oletta: Ava taught her how to make cloth, but the thread they’d use was white and rough, so the outcome of their work wasn’t always so beautiful. Oletta got Arella to track down colorful berries, dirt in various shades, green leaves and poppy petals, boiling them with hemp and linen and using them to create colorful threads. The loom work became beautiful and Ava urged Oletta to teach this art to other women in Montemaggio. Nina, the forest maiden, loved animals and knew the forest very well; anytime someone got lost, she would help him and direct him back to the path.