Everyone knew the sad story of the “Signora” who spread terror and dismay through one of the ridges of the Val d’Orcia. The “wicked woman”, known in legends as the “Queen” of a small castle, probably lived more than a thousand years ago in this final portion of Tuscany, where worn-down ravines gradually give way to picture-perfect hills. She belonged to a miniscule feudal aristocracy and was the wife of “Lambardo” from a very small town that took its name from this very story (after the Expedition of the Thousand): the town of Muliermala. The castle was located along the via Francigena, just a stone’s throw from Radicofani. The lady of the house was a young and very attractive woman, who married at 12 years old to an evil and ugly creep—he was a bully, but rich.
The girl’s life, however, was heading toward a sad fate: she was often beaten and verbally abused, and this went on so long that she slowly developed a hatred of her husband…and toward men in general…a mortal hatred. Years went by, but her beauty didn’t fade—quite the contrary—and the passersby certainly noticed. When her husband was away, she would dress in revealing clothing and remain in the doorway of the palazzo in plain sight. Many years went by and many men, young and old, moved through her home.
The woman would welcome them, seduce them, but then, full of rage and resentment, she would kill them. No one had noticed anything strange, until one evening, when the woman had gone off to visit her ailing mother, her bullying husband went into the pantry, where a wooden receptacle caught his attention: it was full of dried and smoked meats. Disgusting—it stank of insects! They were lice. Lice in dried meat? But do they not usually live on men? That meat was certainly strange… he waited for his wife.
The sun had set, the woman had arrived back home, a bit chilly, and she found him there waiting for her. His gaze looked evil: “You wretched woman!”, he exclaimed. “What is this meat that you keep in the vat?” The woman fell silent. She lowered her gaze, and he started to hit her… “Speak!” he said… She opened her mouth and started revealing the horrors she’d carried out. For years she would draw men in, of all ages, seduce and then kill them, as if she were killing him, and in this she was able to get back at him for his maliciousness. But, hardly content with that cruelty, she would go on to cut them into pieces and she kept them around, cooking them into meat and serving it to her husband. Alas, this was her revenge!
They stayed silent for a few minutes, until the brute dragged the woman outside, tied up her arms and legs, knotted a rope between those limbs and the horse’s tail, looked at her for the last time, then shook the steed, who went wild as she surged down the deep ravine and climbed up the hill ahead of her. He stared as he watched the horse rise and fall, up and down, dragging along the beautiful and cruel lady. The rope then broke and her body landed on a hilltop that even today is called the “Regina”, or “Queen”. The evil woman, the “mala mulier,” the beautiful and disgraced signora: her story was ready to move through the centuries.