Maliarda of Naples: Donna Eleonora Tomacelli

by Claudia Muto

Have you ever listened to the song of Fabrizio De Andrè "The ballad of blind love"? If this were not the case, I would invite you to do it now, not only because in themselves, even without my advertising, Faber's words are known to have a disarming imaginative power, but also for the strong affinity that I have seen in you between what is treated in the songwriter's text and the story I'm about to tell you. By a strange coincidence of cases I also found myself listening to this song just as I was looking for information on the protagonist of the story, Eleonora Tomacelli, called the Sorceress. So the song begins < <Un uomor honest, a good man / fell madly in love / with one who is not loved anything >> and so our story begins.

The term "mbewitchyard”Generally refers to a woman who is capable of enchanting and bewitching men with her indisputable charm. In light of this, I find that there could not have been a better title to bestow on Eleonora woman, of the rich and noble family of Tomacelli, who lived in Naples, under the reign of Alfonso of Aragon. The woman, although married to a rich merchant, does not seem to have disdained at all having a long line of lovers generally belonging to the highest ranks of the Kingdom. But this, although unfortunate, was certainly not uncommon for those times, so it would not have been worth, for so little, the honorific appellation of Maliarda of Naples. The peculiarity of Donna Eleonora consisted in luring all the men among the most influential and most desired by other women, making them hopelessly fall in love with her, deceive them, and then finally bask in the sadistic pleasure of abandoning them by letting them die of love for her, and then later bragging about the business with the other ladies. Until that moment, no one excluded, he had escaped this sad fate.

One day a young Sicilian knight arrived in Naples, Giovanni Ventimiglia, at the invitation of King Alfonso of Aragon. At court immediately rumors began to circulate about the feats in combat and in the love field of the young Giovanni who had a reputation as an excellent swordsman and a great female spoiler. Tall, blond, blue-eyed, presumably of Norman descent, he soon became the object of the attentions of the Neapolitan female aristocracy, to whose lascivious requests he apparently responded with condescension. When the Sorceress learned of him she thought that, without delay, he should become his next victim. One day the king gave a dance to Castelnuovo and this was the perfect opportunity for Donna Eleonora to introduce herself to the young knight. Elegant in her posture, with a shining beauty, full of grace and charm, with her fervent imagination and keen intelligence, the Maliarda managed to win Giovanni's heart, beating the competition. The young man's friends tried to warn him, inviting him to beware of falling into Donna Eleonora's net.bewitch

< <Quella donna è come una Siren. She captivates men and drags them down with the power of her charm. Don't be fooled. He has always done so >> they told him.

< replied the young lover, already fallen into the trap.

The illusion of love of the young Giovanni Ventimiglia lasted for some time: when they met at a ball the Maliarda led him away from prying eyes to give him furtive and burning kisses; when, on other public occasions, they could not be together, she would cast eloquent glances at him from afar; they exchanged phrases of love that could not leave room for doubt; Giovanni had wonderful jewels in gold and precious stones made by the court silversmith for his sweetheart almost every day and when in February of 1456, in square of the Saddlery, a tournament took place, the young Ventimiglia competed in the joust with the colors of Donna Eleonora and when he won he did not fail to dedicate the victory to her.

From one day to another however Donna Eleonora began to stop showing up at the clandestine meetings organized by her lover, to not answer his tickets and not to look out on the balcony of her room anymore. The young John received only glacial glances and words of circumstance from that woman who just a short time before had been his fiery lover. One day Donna Eleonora's lady-in-waiting sent the knight a note that read: <Goodbye. Eleonora. >>. Only at that moment the young Ventimiglia was forced to come to terms with the harsh reality: he had been just the umpteenth victim of the Maliarda.

He decided to lock himself up in his apartments a Castelnuovo: he did not eat, slept little, thought only of Donna Eleonora all the time. He had sacrificed so much for her, he had faced all the tests of love to which he had subjected him in order to be with her, he would have sacrificed his own life for the woman he loved. He was torn with pain and would have died if one night, in a dream, she hadn't appeared to him an angelic vision: a very sweet and beautiful woman, much more than Eleonora could ever have been, who invited him to fight her pain and look for her.bewitch

The young knight, to everyone's surprise, from the day following this miraculous dream, began to recover his strength, returned to health, oblivious to Donna Eleonora and threw himself headlong into work, becoming an indefatigable collaborator of King Alfonso of Aragon . Then one day, while he was on horseback just outside Castelnuovo, he was surrounded by a crowd of commoners who, as usual, recognizing him as the handsome Don Giovanni, approached him to admire his ineffable beauty more closely. Among the common women he repented of the presence of the woman who had appeared to him in a dream. Almost like a possessed man, not master of his own actions, he got off his horse, approached the girl, took the girl's hands in his and looking into each other's eyes, they both understood that between them was a great and sincere love at first sight. The girl was called Caterina Capece and she had origins among the most modest in Naples but in spite of this, seeing the deep love that Giovanni felt for her, King Alfonso admitted her to court and soon established the reputation of the sweetest and most beautiful maid of the Kingdom.

When he learned of Catherine, woman Eleonora the Maliarda he decided that he should absolutely win back the heart of the handsome Giovanni and remove it from the common woman. Taking advantage of a gala evening, she dressed up to her best, wore one of her most beautiful evening dresses and adorned herself with precious jewels. The young Ventimiglia and his sweetheart also took part in that evening. For the entire duration of the gala, Donna Eleonora tried to attract the attention of the knight, but everyone

the attempt was in vain. Every thought, gesture, word of Giovanni was addressed solely to the beautiful Catherine.

Back home from the evening, livid by jealousy and envy, Eleonora began to devise numerous plans to try to bring the handsome Giovanni back to himself. She realized that her feeling for him was much deeper than she imagined. She tried them all, for a long time, but from the subject of her desires she was given back nothing but indifference.

Maliarda of Naples: Donna Eleonora Tomacelli

So how does the story of the famous Witch end? If life, unfortunately, does not always reward the "good" and punish the "bad", in this story it is possible to glimpse a certain justice of the case or for some it will be a sort of intercession of Providence: arrived at the strenuous of its forces, prey to the most atrocious pains of love, Donna Eleonora died in the same way that the unfortunate who had fallen into her clutches had died.

<>, sings De Andrè at the end of the ballad. But in this story the blood is not of the victim but of the executioner.

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