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The Pale Blue Ghost

Gwendalina Malatesta, daughter of the duke of Montebello

(June, 2006)

The Pale Blue Ghost

There once was a castle at Montebello in the province of Rimini where during the second half of the 14th century a little girl mysteriously disappeared. She is still speculated about today. She was called Gwendalina Malatesta when she was alive in the Middle Ages, but now, she is known to all as the Pale Blue Ghost.

Gwendalina was an albino and had white skin and hair. In the Middle Ages, albinism was a source of suspision and fear. When she was born, everyone feared that the child was destined to become a witch and would suffer an atrocious death! So her parents, in an effort to protect Gwendalina from the harsh sun and the crowds that came to stare at her, never allowed her out of the castle. To give them hope, their doctor suggested that they make a substance from grass to dye the little girl's skin and hair. It worked beautifully and Gwendalina turned pink and rosy. That night her parents slept peacefully for the first time since she was born. The next morning they took her outside the castle to play in the sunshine for the first time. But when the rays of the sun made contact with dye on her skin, Gwendalina turned an astonishing shade of pale blue and it would not wash off. Therefore the people began to call the child "Azurina."

The story of her untimely death has been handed down through the centuries. It began on her fifth birthday, which was the night of the summer solstice—June 21, 1375. There was a large thunderstorm that night that was blowing rain and hail in the unprotected windows of the summer sleeping quarters upstairs. Azurina played downstairs with a ball she had made of pretty rags and string. When the toy rolled down a staircase leading to an ice cellar, Azurina ran after the ball to recover it. Two guards heard her scream and immediately ran to her aid, but no matter how hard they looked, she was no where to be found. The entire castle—and eventually the whole village—were searched with a fine tooth comb for days and days. Azurina had just dissapeared, vanished into nothingness!

From that very date, every fifth year, on the night of the summer solstice, Azurina reappears in the castle of Montebello. Many have heard her voice and can feel her presence. Students and experts from the University of Bologna and from RAI carried out an investigation in 1995 and sucessfully recorded the sounds. Their analysis of the recordings revealed the sound of a ball bouncing, the chiming of bells, and Azurina's clear voice crying, "Mother!" They repeated the experiment on the same night of the year in 2000 and were once again able to record the cry of a child. To this day, hundreds visit the castle of Montebello not only for its historic and artistic treasures but to visit the ghost of Azurina.

Retold from an Italian website by Gael Stirler with the help of the Google translator and

The dye in the story may have been indigo. Indigo looks pink or yellow in the dye bath. When the yarn is removed from the bath and the dye is exposed to light and air it quickly turns blue.

Can you find the miscalculation in this article? See Calendars for why the birthdate is wrong.

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