Friday, 24 October 2014

The Ghostly Bridal Party of Cammarata

Buongiorno a tutti! I hope that you all had a wonderful Summer and are enjoying the beautiful Autumn colours that now surround us. The dark nights are drawing in and there is a distinct chill in the air which means the time has come again for me to write my Halloween blog - one of the blogs which I enjoy writing the most! This year I have a wonderfully spooky tale to tell; a tale which will take you deep into the heart of Sicily and to a time long ago - a time of noblemen and of tradition. Enjoy!

Deep in the woods of Cammarata, in the province of Agrigento, lies a lonely castle with a noble past. The imposing, picturesque castle lies in a beautiful location but the mystical woods that surround it have long believed to be haunted. The horror of the events that happened there makes a sad, romantic and tragic story.

Hundreds of years ago the Baron of Cammarata had a very beautiful daughter named Elisabetta, whom he adored. She was to marry a nobleman of rank and fortune. But, unfortunately, the bridegroom was the Baron's choice. He had forbidden Elisabetta to meet again the man she truly loved.

Despite all her tearful protests, Elisabetta was married in the castle chapel by the Priest of Cammarata. Afterwards the full bridal party set out to 'ride the bounds' - that was to ride in procession around the entire boundary of the estate, as tradition demanded. On their return to the castle, a magnificent banquet would be held in their honour.

Elisabetta's lover had heard of this, and with a party of his friends, he was waiting in ambush in a little wood nearby. His plan was to launch a surprise attack, rescue Elisabetta, and then they would make their escape together.

Back at the castle the feast was prepared and servants and minstrels waited with the Baron in the Great Hall to greet and serve the guests. Many hours passed without their return. The increasingly anxious Baron sent out men to search, but they could find no trace of the missing party. At last the servants were dismissed to bed, and only the Baron was left to keep a lonely vigil in the dimly lit Hall.

On the stroke of midnight he awoke from dozing to the sound of the castle drawbridge being lowered, and noises of horsemen in the courtyard. Almost in the same instance the bridal party filed silently into the Hall, and in the dead quiet took their places at the table. No-one spoke, not a single word.

Gazing in puzzlement at his guests, the Baron began to realise to his horror that the white and frozen faces of his daughter and friends belonged to their ghosts.With a terrible scream he fell to the floor in a faint, and as he did, the 'ghostly bridal party' vanished from sight.

According to the story, the poor Baron never recovered his speech, and remained paralysed for the rest of his life.

It was believed that when the bridal party was ambushed, a terrible fight had taken place, Elisabetta herself being accidently killed in the general confusion. No one survived the slaughter, and the blood from the dreadful carnage flowed into a hollow stone, which is known to this day as 'The Raven's Stone'.

Every year on the anniversary of the tragedy, the ghostly bridal party rides again through the woods near the castle. It is said that the sound of hoof-beats and the jingling of harness can be heard clearly. Strangely, although time has altered the landscape, the riders keep to their original route, passing straight through any walls or fences that now bar their way.

Have a wonderful Halloween .... and be sure to listen out for the sound of hooves and of jingling harnesses!

A presto,

Debra Santangelo

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