The Mass of Mandringa
Photo by Gianmarco Fusari
The city of Volterra isn’t just home to Tuscany villas, it’s also home to a sprinkling of fascinating ancient legends, handed down for many generations to the present day. The first peculiar, and perhaps, chilling story relates to the huge stone boulder magically poised at the very edge of the road that leaves north from the town. Locals call this large rock ‘The Mass of Mandringa’ and its reputation has caused a certain amount of discomfort and unease. Furthermore, just below the rock, there flows a puzzling source of water. This can be reached via the stone steps on the side of the road, making the site a must see for anyone staying in any local Tuscany villas. The local historian Franco Poretti wrote about the history of ‘The Mass of Mandringa’ and the legends associated with it in his book “Volterra magica e misteriosa.” In the following passage he wrote:
- Around the boulder, during the day, women and children came and went, there was the continuous hum of light-hearted chat ... But at night, Saturday night in particular, just beforethe clock in the main piazza signalled the end of another day - a slow, shuddering noise penetrated the air. The air was heavy, saturated with sulphur and this shuddering noise was followed by a buzz, more and more marked and intense. This macabre sound served as a prelude to the whirling dance of the witches. The terrified women and children stayed in their homes and, half asleep, listened to the shrill voices of the witches who danced and grinned. When the eerie screech of the night owl and the plaintive meowing of cats announced the arrival of other evil entities; even the men did not have the courage to leave the house.