|Associazione Europa Veneta
||Bianca di Collalto
|ASSOCIAZIONE EVROPA VENETA
|Fondamenta Moro, 2999 Cannaregio 30121 Venezia
|It is a family legend to remember the countess Albina di Collalto, Borut Prah's aunt.
|Joko avli said: The Collalto family originated in Carantania.
|(Edoardo Rubini - Associazione Europa Veneta, July 9, 2011)
revised by Edoardo Rubini
|from a story by Pasquale Negri
Revision of the English text: Giovanni Alberti
Layout: Fabio Bortoli
Publisher: Giorgio Scarpa
Through this publication, the Europa Veneta association intends to remember the recently late socia in memoriam Albina, countess of Collalto.
Since the upper Middle Ages the Collaltos were known as one of the most powerful families in Europe, tied to the Sacred Roman Empire; among the important news reported by the heraldist Casimiro Freschot (1707) regarding this illustrious lineage, the circumstances of its entry in the Venetian patriziato are reported accurately: "Following the competitions between the King of Hungary and the Veneta Serenissima Republic, compelled to sustain in various wars its affairs against that Crown... in 1306 the Generous Count Rambaldo went for the only reason of his own interest, in assistance of the Venetians, and with the nerve of his militias performing successfully his task, was admitted to the Venetian Nobility by the Most Serene Pietro Gradenigo, in the name of the State, who expressed the merit with the great signs of respect and gratitude."
The retrieval in the Library of the Querini Stampalia Foundation of a booklet entitled "Bianca di Collalto - Leggenda Veneziana" (by Pasquale Negri, Tip. Melch. Fontana Impr., Venice, 1866) suggested a new text layout, so as to tell the story with a concise and modern language, yet at the same time accurate and adherent to the original model.
Light differences will be recovered in the style, whereas the nineteenth-century narration described unfavourably some characters and put the whole medieval age under a grim light, influenced by the prejudices, rooting during the 19th Century, about past epochs.
The ideological background of this story emerges with evidence: Bianca embodies the Venetian mother-country disheartened for decades by the foreign occupation. Behind the ferocity of the Bavarian characters, a deep hostility toward Austria can be noted, shown during the first year of the annexation to the Kingdom of Italy. Today we may observe that the national liberation of the Veneti was more complex than the mere parting from Vienna's domination.
Some may wonder that the role of the simple handmaid is assigned to Bianca di Collalto, a victim of the foreign and powerful nobility's mercilessness. In fact, this figure is a supernatural character representing the devotion to the native land (projected in the castle environment), over the bounds of human condition.
Venice, 15 July 2001
Many centuries ago Count Guiscardo lived, remaining at a young age the universal heir of the ancient family of the Collaltos.
This wealthy and notable family lived in a mighty castle in the outskirts of Treviso and had jurisdiction on quite a lot of countries and surrounding villages.
Invited by illustrious princes to visit their courts, the count crossed the Alps accompanied by his pompous succession, with the intention of taking part in tournaments amongst brave riders in Dresden. There he encountered the blonde princess Ildegonda, whose lineage and beauty made her appear as the most desirable maiden for a gentleman.
She belonged to a Bavarian lineage joined to the regal blood; this fact set her above any other young woman. Guiscardo fell in love with her and soon afterwards the noble couple got married. The new bride had a fierce temperament, made still harder by the enormous wealth and by the education that accustomed her to the power; apart this personality, an ardent passion tied her to her husband.
The residence of the Collaltos was surrounded by a delightful and green landscape: when carriages would arrive, the roads were filled with farmers dressed for party, holding garlands in their hands and white baskets full of fruit. The armigers were lined up out of the walls in their helmets and armours, supplied with spears and shining burnished steel halberds, while at the drawbridge edges, harnessed in sumptuous liveries, the servants attended to welcome their new lady.
Pulled by six black steeds, the bridegroom's coach moved toward the centre of the rank; when it reached the bridge, the superintendent turned a homage to his masters, while the chaplain scattered holy water on them. The procession approached the first courtyard of the fortress to let the passengers get off, then they climbed up the stairs that were decorated with valuable tapestries.
The retinue found the saloon walls all covered with standards, weapons and ancient trophies; damasks of velvet fringed with gold served as background, garlands of laurel and many flowers composed a vague sketch.
The newly-married sat down on the throne, surrounded by the crown of count, while relatives and friends made room for them and the main subjects made homage and took many bows. The proud Ildegonda observed gratified the ceremony turning her clear, vivacious large eyes and bearing in mind degree and condition of everyone who bowed in front of her; she relished the sweet taste of the new power she was acquiring.
There was an aged woman with beside her an attractive girl, dressed graciously and decorously like her. They made a deep bow and manifested with a timid sign the desire to kiss the countess's right hand. She granted the favour, but could not help noticing the girl's delicate features.
Just when the two women were distant, Ildegonda turned to the count asking who they were. Guiscardo said the old lady was the butler of the castle who endeared him, because his mother entrusted her with him before dying when he still was in tender age. "And the other one?" - his bride asked, worried. "The other one is Ann's only daughter, whom I spoke about. Her name is Bianca. She's almost as old as me and we have been raised together, so I love her like a sister: she's got an enchanting look, but you have to know that her soul is as pure and devoted as an angel".
"Therefore do you love her?" the blonde noblewoman replied, trying to surprise her consort without hiding a thread of irritation. "It's true that I love her, but I told you what kind of affection I feel" - Guiscardo answered smiling - "you know, anyway, that I've already thought about destining Bianca as a dame of company for you, if this can calm your light suspects. After all, I am sure that her zeal won't give you motive to complain". Ildegonda appeared satisfied of the answer and relieved from her disturbance.
When all had consumed the lavish banquet, in the fortress parade ground chivalrous competitions were held; pompously dressed Ildegonda, leaning on the main balcony, assisted to the tests of value, then she herself gave the prizes to the winners.
The windows of all the rooms shone in the nocturnal darkness, lights and candelabra burned everywhere, while in the courtyard music of minstrels was played; a troubadour dedicated a sweet song
to the countess, accompanying himself with the harp.
Then the dances were opened and when the party was over, the guests took their leave handing fervent wishes to the couple, while the relatives and the foreign guests withdrew in the rooms assigned to them. The happy uproar left place to a deep silence.
Having to get ready for the night, Ildegonda reached an elegant toilet-room, where she found Bianca with the other handmaids waiting for her. The bride sat above a magnificent gilded arm-chair, in front of which an ample mirror was hung. Bianca removed from her head the bejewelled hat pins and the diadem and loosened the gold chains from her neck.
Serious and taciturn, Ildegonda observed her own image into the mirror and at the same time the one of the modest girl, whose features were heightened by two silver ablaze candelabra. Although the countess had a superb looking, for an instant she believed that her qualities were put in the shade.
Wound in a candid and light negligee, she reached her husband in the bedroom; then, to the question if she was pleased with the new maid, she said yes. Such an innocent hurry, however, made her start for a secret scorn.
In the meanwhile, quite different feelings were arousing in somebody else's heart. The noble Guiscardo led some riders from Dresden. They received the title of armiger and the one of esquire; among these Sinibaldo distinguished himself as a brave and colossal warrior.
Ildegondafs father was the master he served and he obtained with her help to get to the Venetian land, assuming the title of first esquire of the count. Therefore, he escorted the newly-married riding the horse on the right side of their carriage and during the reception he had been upright standing next to the throne of the counts; from the lifted visor of the helmet could be seen the lines of a man of about forty, whose hardness aroused fear.
It seemed from the mind of such a man no other emotion could rise but those connatural to the cruel arts he practised: challenges, fights, executions of bloodthirsty orders. On the contrary, the innocent and sweet appearance of Bianca caused him an unusual feeling, so during the gala evening he couldn't take his eyes away from her, looking for the right moment to address her, but Bianca always minded the countess, followed by her mother.
The audacious Sinibaldo was told that the enchanting girl sometimes in the evening took a walk across the garden with her mother, so he hid near a hornbeams path where the women would pass. All of a sudden he appeared before them: they were bewildered, so the rider tried to reassure them with frankness and to chat in the least rough way he could.
When they were alone, Ann wanted to know from her daughter what she thought about him, receiving this answer: "Neither well, neither badly, but for the truth I'm irritated by those who turn all of their virtues to military enterprises."
In the following days Sinibaldo tried to reach Bianca every time that he knew she would walk in the garden during the sunset, but his courting didn't seem successful: he always talked to her of duels and adventurous clashes he had won. Once he tried to involve the girl offering to bring to her feet the skulls and crossbones of those who troubled her, so he ended up by terrifying her.
Rejected, the warrior cultivated the suspicion to have some rival in love, but his assiduous investigations lead nowhere. This passion surely didn't distract him from his habits, since he was involved in brawls and duels all the time.
He became the terror of the near countries and only the vassals of Collalto seemed to be pleased of such a champion. Unsatisfied, Sinibaldo had the idea to present himself to Bianca still dirty with his adversaries' blood; so she decided not to walk in the evening anymore to avoid meeting him and he became resentful.
At the same time, Ildegonda appreciated his being around to escort her during the rides around the luxurious residence or in near countries; in the past, he had been minister of her gloomy revenges. One feast day, the countess returned from the mass celebrated in a church of the outskirts and she decided to go along the road afoot, so Sinibaldo too got off from his horse walking beside her; the armigers followed them at a distance, around the empty carriage.
When he approached the dame, the squire took the propitious chance to tell her the pain that troubled him, neither he passed over the suspicions he had about the reason of the indifference of the girl, that he could attribute only to a secret affection tieing her to someone else. Woe to his rival if he had discovered him!
Ildegonda listened in silence, keeping her eyes low, then she stirred herself and promised him to care for his matter; Sinibaldo smiled happy.
When the countess was alone with her fine handmaid, she asked her to put her apart of her heart's secrets. Bianca rather disappointed her by revealing simply the truth: she said to have no particular feelings for any man.
"And would you marry Sinibaldo?" - Ildegonda pursued her. "Holy Heaven, that man doesn't think about anything but blood!" - Bianca refuted . "So, who can meet your favours?"
And in return: "My lady, I may swear I don't even think about marriage and I desire to be free forever". The countess shook her head: "Free, free!" - she exclaimed bitterly, assuming a grim expression.
The interview was reported without any scruple, adding to it tones of mockery and sarcasm that were not used. The squire bit his hands for the spite, passing from love to hate. He decided anyway to be on the look out for the rival he thought to have, because he wanted to discharge his hardly repressed anger against him.
After a few months a sad event happened: Ann breathed her last. In point of death, she asked to talk with the count, who cared for her as if she was his mother.
He hastened full of pain and concern to listen to her last wishes, so Ann handed her weak and thin hand, succeeding only in whispering: "I recommend you my daughter". For a long time Bianca hid her tears, neither could she be consoled.
The countess's heart was nevertheless deaf in front of such a pain and prone only to satisfy its whims. Just one day later the girl had to take up service again, bearing what would be impossible to others.
Bianca used to take many hours to dress Ildegonda's head with the elegant hair style that she wanted, but she immediately had to bring some change for the mutable imagination that never made her happy.
Though she engaged herself in meeting her taste, Bianca was invested by a string of reproaches. "Silly girl, bungler" - she heard the countess call her, but certainly she didn't dare to reply, rather she doubled the efforts and begged the Lord to give her enough talent to acquit her assignments.
The innocent girl didn't realize the real reasons of the maltreatment were the rare grace of her face and the purity of her mind: nobody that knew her failed to miss her virtues, in spite of the envious countess.
One day, the noble Guiscardo decided to purchase a vigorous barbaric steed; he wanted to train it using his special skill. While he was climbing on it across one of the courtyards, the enraged animal unsaddled him causing him to beat his head on the stony ground, so the man remained stunned. Ildegonda and Bianca, assisting to the scene from the balconies, cried acutely.
Bianca hastened first, tore away an edge from her own veil and bathed it in cold water to bandage his bleeding head. The trembling Ildegonda and the servants handled to lay the count on his bed; when he recovered his senses, the two women cried for joy, but Ildegonda deemed justified only her tears of bride, reading in those of Bianca an ambiguous signal.
The surgeon removed the veil of the girl - some lukewarm blood was scattered - to cure the wound, but the count held it back between his hands. Then he wanted to know whom it belonged to and Bianca answered with a smile. Guiscardo commented: "I don't wonder about it, I know how much you love me! "
Ildegonda felt hot blazes burning in her breast and tried to spy the signs on the girl's face. In the meanwhile, Sinibaldo came too; he observed the scene a little far and he deemed those concerns excessive, brooding over: "She would not have done the same for me, she says not to love anybody, yet she's craving for the count". He was overtaken by thoughts; he meditated to reveal everything to the countess, who didn't leave any fault unpunished and he was sorry he couldn't execute against the count the revenge brooded for so long.
The time came for the threatening rider to approach the dame: he looked frowning and desirous to speak. "What's the matter? " - she asked him. "You should know" - he spoke under his breath. " I've been knowing your pain for a long time" - observed the dame. "But now there is something else... you see, too?" - so the rider instigated her. "Shut up, you bloody demon, don't say any other word!". Ildegonda was a fertile soil where to sow the revenge's seed and Sinibaldo was ready to take advantage of any misfortune of the poor girl.
Guiscardo, healed at last, made her some gift, lighting his wife's jealousies, who until then was able to dissimulate her passions. She decided to lay bare her plans, so with an artificial haughtiness she turned to the consort the application to dismiss Bianca from the castle, with the pretext not to be happy about her services.
The count was doubtful, then he answered: "You displeased of Bianca? What could that sweet, kind, angelic creature have done? If you donft want to see her any more I will satisfy you, but remember that I love her like a sister, and her mother, to whom I owe so much, has recommended her to me on her deathbed. When she'll have departed, anywhere she will find shelter, I won't abandon her. Rather, my dear, I recommend you to moderate your pretensions and your fiery character!"
The countess could hardly disguise her anger. She didn't dare to refuse his husband's words, but she deemed those hurries - for one judged by her a simple maid - as a test by now sure of her suspects, giving herself up to dark thoughts.
The poor Bianca immediately paid the price of such misunderstandings. She was forced to settle tedious jobs with no standstill and to observe severe limits of time, she was even hit; she also worked at night to the loom, she could hardly communicate with anybody and she even started to lose her health.
At the mercy of desperation, she asked to her owner to depart, but Ildegonda denied the permission to her, fearing to facilitate in such way the relationship of the rival with the count. Bianca used to lean only on herself, but this time she couldn't; she thought there was nothing left to do but to look for help from the count. She wrote this note:
"Milord! I need to talk to you for just a moment.
Bianca, the unhappy one"
To deliver it, she turned to an old servant, who used to accompany the count to hunting and in his trips. It was not difficult for Guiscardo to imagine the sorrows that tormented the unfortunate lady, so he started thinking in which way to hold the meeting and inserted the note in a pocket without minding. Ildegonda spent time watching Bianca's and her husband's movements and she didn't hesitate to look through his pockets, so she put her hands on the letter.
Needless to say the fury that seized her and the terrible intentions that rose into her mind; however, she meditated to retrieve more concrete evidence of his consort's unfaithfulness, to be able to justify her actions in front of the world.
Guiscardo asked for a suggestion from his devoted servant, so he decided to see Bianca in the only time when she was not guarded by her wife, that's at night. Towards morning, Ildegonda looked as if absorbed in a deep sleep and he went upstairs finding his protected sitting before the loom, embroidering a dress.
She went toward him telling: "Milord, why at this hour?"
"I couldn't find a better one" - he answered.
"So, do you know the reason that induced me to ask of you?"
"I understand well - Guiscardo reassured her - I've seen how much it hurts you, the treatment my wife reserves for you. I'm here to tell you that I am looking for an arrangement for this disagreeable situation. May I suggest your withdrawal into a cloister, but you may prefer to give your hand in marriage to one of my vassals. I'll miss your presence for sure."
"You are my lord, whom I've been obeying gladly for a long time. If you've decided to give me in marriage, I pray to you, don't promise me to Sinibaldo... I beg you, don't, because I could also die" - saying so, Bianca kneeled down to his feet.
But Ildegonda wasn't sleeping. Since she imagined the furtive meeting, she got up from bed and, provided with dagger, she came to the room where she caught both of them in unusual behaviour.
When Guiscardo saw her to advance threatening, he picked her by her arm and faced her with these indignant words: "What are you doing, Milady? Do you still want to rage with these scurvy manners against this poor girl? Do you dare to make an attempt against her life even in my presence? I have been called here not for dishonourable ends, but because of the injustice she has to suffer from you, neither is she the only one among the personnel to complain for your boldness".
Furthermore: "I've been told about the severe punishments that you order against those who don't obey you and against whom you think don't respect you. From now on, you'll know the real justice for your cruelties. You are hated by everybody and if I satisfied your pretensions for too much goodness and blind love, now I order you to bring respect to Bianca. Pretty soon she will depart from Collalto to enjoy the calm her meek nature deserves."
Ildegonda bit her lips for anger and shame, but she seemed struck by the steadiness of this speech. With a half-whining voice she apologized and she begged not to have Bianca leave, rather she promised to treat her no more as a maid, but as a friend.
The count was in silence and saw Bianca looking surprised and uncertain; then, following the innocence of her mind, she took the hand that an instant before wanted to hurt her and she kissed it.
She beseeched her owner's forgiveness, requesting a demonstration of her good mood and she said to be happy to remain, since in that castle she had been born and there the dearest people to her lived. When Ildegonda heard this, she kissed Bianca.
After these facts the countess changed her behaviour a bit with everybody, but what happened didn't remain a secret in the castle. Sometimes the chatters changed the sense of the events and someone took the chance to malign: it was Sinibaldo, quite perplexed of the turnaround of the noblewoman. Holding her once by her arm while she was getting down from her horse, he turned to her this wisecrack : "Milady, I don't recognize you anymore! " "On the contrary, you should know me" - she answered.
As a vast ocean in quiet before the storm, Ildegonda was secretly studying the way to get rid forever of the person who caused her envy and jealousy. She prepared a deadly poison killing without leaving trace, so Bianca's death could seem natural.
The count of Collalto, in that time feudal lord of the Sacred Roman Empire, was called to join the Germanic troops coming down to fight in Italy.
Sinibaldo immediately asked to leave for war, following his own warlike spirit and looking for shelter from his pangs of love, so much more than he would have remained beside whom he supposed to be his rival.
At the head of three hundred lances the feudatory went out of the castle, in the middle of general dismay and leaving Bianca in tears. The proud and inflexible Ildegonda appeared little or nothing stirred, rather she was still resentful for the recent humiliation.
When Guiscardo passed the drawbridge, he wanted to embrace and to kiss her a last time, telling her: "I submit you my court, govern it rightly and may you be loved; above all I recommend Bianca to you".
Before such a hurry, that she deemed excessive and out place, the countess felt hatred reviving; re-entering the castle, she turned to the handmaid whispering bitterly under her breath : "The time has come, oh villainous, that you'll repay me the so many offences". Bianca felt an icy shiver flowing through her bones and she felt lost.
Ildegonda remained owner of the castle, so she could satisfy her indescribable pride and satiate her ferocity. She punished even light lacks by torturing with rope, she had those who hesitated to perform her orders sunk in damp and dark dungeon, but her main aim turned elsewhere and the revenge delayed only for finding execution in unusual and cruel forms.
One morning, Ildegonda sat on her gilded chair while the unlucky handmaid was dressing her hair and entwining some flowers among her braids; as usual, the countess didn't appreciate the hair style and kept shouting and beating her feet on the ground.
The tradition reports that Bianca, exasperated for harassment, raised her arms to the sky; Ildegonda, observing her to the mirror, misunderstood her gesture as if the poor girl was making the horns with her fingers at her and it is attributed to this cause the end of the unfortunate girl.
In the inexpressible fury that kept her, the irascible tyrant broke the delays and gave vent to her merciless intentions. In one of the most hidden recesses of the castle she had a wall built a few spans from the room wall, so that a hollow space was drawn, inside which she pulled her innocent victim dragging her for her hair. Then she made the new wall closed leaving only a tiny hole; through it she let pass some food for the walled prisoner.
Bianca turned reproaches to Heaven because such a villainous crime was allowed and when she heard the jailer drawing near she begged pity, but in vain: Ildegonda fed her only to extend her torments, often going to listen, gratified, to her moans, laughing and scoffing at her. At last, the news of the count's return were spreading, but Ildegonda didn't give up bringing the misdeed to conclusion, so she ordered to clog the hole.
After four months of agony, Bianca perished. Some people, knowing the terrible secret, were threatened of death and the room was settled so that alterations were not noticed.
Guiscardo, who just came back, amazed not to see his protected, immediately questioned everybody about such mysterious absence. His consort explained to him that Bianca ran away without leaving trace, arousing the count's desperate anger and his firm intention to find her again: on one side, he suspected some cruelty on behalf of his wife, on the other side he couldn't find a sound reason that should move her to an extreme gesture.
For somebody else the hit was just as strong. Sinibaldo had returned loaded with the glory conquered on the battleground, hopeful to rehabilitate him to the eyes of the beloved one.
He wandered painfully through the castle as a bloodhound looking for the lost prey: he regretted even his departing. He stared at the countess and he believed to read something appalling in her eyes. "Milady, may I Know what has become of Bianca?" - he whispered in her ear in due time. "We are both avenged" - the woman answered to him coldly, holding low the look.
The rider remained petrified and withdrew at an uncertain pace; as a matter of fact, the gratification he tasted from the maltreatment suffered by the girl was owed to the hope that she finally surrendered him. "Wretch" - he said to himself, hit by the remorse - "you wanted to throw the jealousy's spark in that viper's mind and here is what you caused!"
When it got dark, the count walked in the garden absorbed by serious thoughts; slim fogs darkened the moon illuminating just a bit the battlemented walls and the tall towers. He saw a pale figure advancing... he looked at its forms, at its dresses, at its face: it was Bianca! He ran to hug her but he could not catch her because it was only a ghost. "Ah, she's dead! And God only knows how!".
In that instant, the air was shaken by a long acute cry: everybody hastened and they all saw the countess fallen on her back on the ground. They assisted her, finally she recovered consciousness, but she looked around herself wide open eyed, deadly pale. She was panting, she was coughing, but she refused to explain what happened to her.
That night the count rested beside her bride. A deafening roar broke out from the underground, shaking the castle from its foundations. In the air a din of chains boomed and sorrowful complaints got up. The servants saw an enormous ghost with an ardent torch in its hand, flowing threatening at their beds' feet.
It moved toward the nuptial thalamus and it went to take a seat beside the drowsy Ildegonda. It stared at her with flaming eyes, grabbed her shaking her arm to wake her up. Ildegonda, terrified, turned on a light and recognized Bianca.
In the following days the dreadful apparitions kept on upsetting the castle. The nervousness spread through everyone, so the count realized that only an execrable crime of his wife could be the origin of such phenomenona.
Ildegonda, pursued by steady accusations, surrendered, worn out and confessed the misdeed. The count hastened in the horrendous jail followed by worried Sinibaldo and, demolished the wall, he found unhappy Bianca's remains.
On seeing this, the two men poured warm tears. Sinibaldo used to kill at random of men, but seeing the wasted body of the only one he loved, he stood pale and paralysed with his eyes jutting out from the orbits, nor could he speak for the pain.
The count could only give worthy and solemn burial to the innocent girl, so Bianca didn't appear to anybody any more, except the countess, who couldn't do anything but to implore pardon to Heaven, tormented by remorse. Often Sinibaldo was seen standing in meditation to the feet of Bianca's grave.
To divert his mind, the noble Guiscardo accepted Lord of Verona's invitation to assist to a tournament and he denied his wife the permission to follow him, since her presence appeared more and more heavy to him. Remaining alone, Ildegonda walked mute and slow across the saloon, while her court stood aside.
Sinibaldo approached and openly asked her if she kept on seeing Bianca's shade. "Shut up, don't even call her name, she's still persecuting me" - she answered. In return, the rider asked her how she thought to face the situation, so he knew the woman had no relief but weeping and praying. He promised to help her; at midnight he would have passed to her room to teach her a secret remedy.
The shadows of the night drew near loaded of gloomy premonitions. Gusts of raging wind whistled through the walls angles making the air low. An obstinate rain started to roar as in a downpour. Lightning licked the bulgy sky of black clouds and Sinibaldo blessed the storm admiring it from the balcony.
When the settled hour was struck, Sinibaldo came downstairs gropingly in the dark as far as the countess's room and he knocked on the door. Ildegonda opened telling him to be grateful for his arrival, since she was afraid of the weather's fury, that seemed to preannounce a ghostly visit.
"Countess! We are both guilty, because I have aroused cruel suspects in you" - Sinibaldo declared. "Oh no, it's me..." - the woman tried to argue. "Your confession relieves me. I promised to teach you how to stop the apparitions. Follow me to the room where you let Bianca die"- Sinibaldo said. "What? Me? There inside this room? Oh, my God!" Ildegonda exclaimed.
"Don't fear: with special prayers I will teach you, you'll get the peace by the grace of God". After these words, Sinibaldo took a light and led the countess up on the staircase, towards the fatal room. Inside there, he put the light on the ground and he asked her with a sneer on the lips : "Are you trembling?"
"Oh Lord, it seems to me she's still standing there" - she replied.
"Wicked woman, are you trembling now?" - Sinibaldo stormed like a thunder's din and went on - "You had to tremble before the only thought of your execrable crime! Do you know why I brought you here?" "Pity!" - the countess implored frightened.
"Gaze at that, cruel monster! - the spitfire ground his teeth, dragging her by the neck toward the misdeed place - I don't have the luck to make you die as atrociously as you did".
All the strength Ildegonda used in howling was in vain for the raging weather and because the place was remote. The man drew the dagger from its sheath and he inflicted a lot of wounds to the countess's body, so as to prolong her aching pain, like a tigress when it rages on the prey.
He returned on his footsteps to satisfy his blood's thirst, mutilating her limbs. At the end of the slaughter, he went down to the graveyard to drive the dagger in the beloved one's grave. The rain showers washed the blood stains from his armour and - with the pretext to perform an order of the countess - he made the castle gates opened fading away in rump of his steed.
In front of the horrible show of the butchered dead body, the count was sent for urgently. Guiscardo ordered to seek Sinibaldo, whose escape showed him as guilty, but from the news they obtained it was known the rider was embarked in Venice to reach the Holy Land. Closed in his sad loneliness, the count was sometimes heard to exclaim to himself: "Ah Ildegonda, you deserved your punishment! "
Bianca's shade didn't miss to reveal herself in following times to Collaltos' descendants, but without arousing a panic; Bianca used to appear only in special circumstances, dressed in black or white according to the announced events being cheerful or painful.
There was no member of the illustrious family or of the staff who said not to have met the shade of the legendary girl. But these visits used to happen just as long as the Venetian Republic lasted.