IMAGE CREDITS: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Daderot
Fans of folklore and popular culture will relish the stories passed down from generation to generation in Tuscany:Villas, castles, palaces and the ancient countryside are often deemed to be inhabited by extraordinary characters which hover between reality and fantasy.
Among these characters is the Tuscan noblewoman, Lucida Samminiati, better known as Lucida Mansi. Her story unfolds in the countryside surrounding Lucca, in one of the most famous of the Tuscany Villas, Villa Mansi.
According to our research, the villa was erected by the Benedetti family in the sixteenth century. Over the years it was subjected to expansion and numerous renovation projects until it reached its present state. Around the beautiful Mannerist style facade are elements of French baroque style and flickers of nineteenth-century romanticism which are found in the park surrounding the villa.
Lucida Samminiati, a stunningly beautiful woman, was born in the early 1600s and was widowed when she was young. After her husbands death Lucida married Gaspare Mansi a wealthy gentleman of the Mansi family. They were a noble family that became the owners of the villa in the seventeenth century. Villa Mansi soon became one of the most gossiped about Tuscany Villas because of Lucida’s extravagant lifestyle. She was renowned for indulging in a glamorous social life which led to excesses and debauchery of every kind. Surrounded by handsome young lovers and unbridled luxury, Lucida became mesmerized by her own beauty. She filled her house with mirrors, especially in her bedroom, so her lovers could gaze at her at any time...
There are many different accounts of Lucida’s death: officially it is believed that she died of plague in 1649. The legend, however, provides a completely different version of events. Lucida’s immense beauty led to vanity and she was obsessed by the fear of aging. She is said to have made a pact with the devil, trading her soul in exchange for thirty more years of youth. When the time finally arrived, the devil came to Villa Mansi on a carriage to redeem the debt. Sitting side by side, Lucida and the devil crossed the walls of Lucca, before tumbling into the pond in the city’s Botanical Garden. Even today tourists come to gaze at the beautiful face of the forever-youthful woman resting at the bottom the water!