Mamma, why can’t I go out to play?” little Azzurrina pleaded, just as she did every day.
“We’ve been through this before,” replied the busy mother, “Please stop asking. You know it’s for your own good.”
Imprisoned in her own home? Confined to the courtyard, never allowed out of sight? How could that be for her good?
But Azzurrina went off to play, well knowing further protest was no use. Seemingly unaware that ever-present shadows dogged her footsteps. “One day,” she decided, as she played, alone with her shadows, “I’ll become a butterfly. And fly over these walls, and away to freedom!”
But her shadows, as they sometimes did, took on life and substance. And happy, as children are at play, her butterfly dream drifted away on the breeze. And in her childhood land of joy and contentment, little Azzurrina was happy with life.
Her troubles, for even children have them you know, far away for a time.
But she tired quickly, from lack of activity. So resting beneath a tree, she once again retreated to the shadows of her dream land. Alone with her thoughts and her butterfly dreams, the shadows ever lurking near.
Her mother wistfully watched Adelina (for that was her real name) at play. Wondering why things were this way. For she loved her daughter, and wanted only the best for her.
And as a lord’s daughter, with many servants and fine things, Adelina’s should have been a fairy tale existence. And would have been, but for one thing.
She was unlike other kids. And even the doctors didn’t know why.
So afraid, people stayed away, and kept their kids away. But kids often have a mean streak, and they still found ways to taunt and torment.
So her parents locked Adelina up in the castle, for safe-keeping. With ever-present shadows at her side. Two guards, Domenico and Ruggero, set to watch over and protect her. Who sometimes came to life, playing with the forlorn girl, whom they’d come to love.
For Adelina was a sweet child, caring and thoughtful. Perhaps she hoped to counteract all the world’s meanness with her own goodness and loving kindness. And all who knew her grew to love her.
But it was 1370, you see, and people allowed superstition to carry their imaginations away.
Fearing the unknown, they avoided Adelina, sure of some evil afoot.
The distraught mother had tried everything. Even dying Adelina’s skin and hair. But nothing could hide the fact that her daughter was an albino. So she soon abandoned the vegetable dyes which, heightening the odd color of her too-blue eyes, made Adelina seem all the more fearful.
Then they took to taunting her with the name Azzurrina.
So the father decided that never again would she leave the castle. And so we find poor Adelina at play in her shadow land. A strange place mixed with sunlight and sorrows.
According to legend, Adelina fell into an underground tunnel while chasing her ball one day. And was never seen again! And that every five years, at the summer solstice, you can once again hear Adelina at play in the castle.
But I don’t believe it! People will believe anything, you know. Like thinking something was wrong with Adelina, just because she was different.
I think her dream came true, and she flew away like a butterfly. Or perhaps another oft-told version is true, and she went off to live with the elves.
But one thing is certain. The “Little Blue One” must have been too special for this world!
A fictional work based on The Legend of Azzurina of the castle of Montebello di Torriana, near Rimini, who supposedly comes to life every 5 years during the summer solstice. There in her ancient castle near Rimini. Visit the link and you can see her castle.
Images: Butterfly ©SheilaScorziello.com; Princess by castle via Pixabay.com.