The sharp well of Gorzone
Let us begin by narrating from a story by Renzo Bresciani, published forty years ago (1980) in the volume "Brescia nell'obiettivo di Fausto Schena", under the heading "Valcamonica", a valley that "can offer you a “pitoto” carved into the living rock by mysterious hands, and then reveal to you the pious blasphemy of the Calvary of Cerveno, or the grim profile of a castle in Garzone...".
You don't see the fortress of Garzone anymore. It was swallowed up by trees. To have a glimpse of it you have to go down the road that leads to Val di Scalve. It rises on a modest hill, overlooking the river Dezzo. Its Lords, the Brusati, who have always been Ghibelline, perhaps in honour of the Emperor Frederick Barbarossa, decided to change their name to Federici.
The sad legend that someone still recounts here tells of the cruelty of a son of Federici's house, whose name history chose to forget.
This well is still there, almost in the middle of the inner courtyard of the manor. Today it contains clear and fresh water. At that time, however, it seems, it had blades, hummingbirds, sharp spikes... that cut through the flesh of those wretched women as they plunged into that horrible ravine.
That year, however, the Lord of Gorzone did not go out for his raid.
And from Garzone we start again, telling another story. A mysterious and strange tale from Brescia.
The castle was built around 1150: stern, a single massive watch and defence tower, the stable foto shelter the horses, some rude lodgings for the military garrison there to defend both the river and the valley below.
The unnamed Lord of the castle of Gorzone liked fresh and beautiful peasant girls and, despite the frightened mothers resorted to every trick to disfigure the face of their daughters, painting it with coal or sprinkling it with ashes, the perverse Lord knew well how to recognize their beauty. Once a year, on Christmas Eve, in the company of his fellows, he would enter the stables where the peasants gathered to shelter from the winter frost and kidnapped the poor girls amid screams and general despair.
The villagers were led into the castle, richly dressed, urged to drink and dance. Then, after being forced to the pleasures of the vile brute as soon as he was tired of them, they were thrown into the "sharp well".
Until a few decades ago, the old women of the village used to say that on stormy and dark nights, it was enough to strain your ear to hear the cries of those poor girls.
The peasants waited for him anxious and sad, but he did not show up. Christmas passed. New Year's Eve arrived. Even the feast of the Three Kings was over. But nothing.
They couldn't take it anymore. The waiting is often worse than the damage.
So they decided to go and see the reason.
They entered the castle and found the doors and windows open. The courtyard was full of objects: paintings, furniture, candlesticks, pots and pans... all scattered on the ground.
But where were the servants? And the squire's companions who never abandoned him, where had they gone to sink?
Those poor, terrified people entered a long, dark corridor. They felt a nauseating stench. At the end of the tunnel an open door. In the half-light a bed, a pile of sheets: over a rotting body. The Lord of Gorzone was dead, abandoned, unburied.
Then the pity of those God-fearing people took care of him. They took what was left of the Lord and went to bury him in front of the churchyard of the church dedicated to Saint Ambrose.
The next morning a woman who passed by saw something chilling: the body of the nobleman resurfaced on the edge of the earth. Desperate, she entered the bell tower, tolling the bells. The people of the village rushed in, discovering the macabre reality.
At that time in the small village there was a community of friars, led by a wise abbot who, having taken charge of the situation, decided to bury those wretched remains, to the horror of his faithful. He said, the monk who had already smelled the stench of hell, to take some large stones from the river Dezzo and place them on the tomb to force the dead man to remain underneath.
The next morning, however, the same scene was repeated.
The whole village appeared on the churchyard (consecrated land where, throughout the Middle Ages, the dead were buried, right in front of the churches). Those simple men did not know what to say and what to do.
The monk understood that it was not the devil’s doing; it was God who did not allow the body of that hardened sinner to rest close to the good people there laying in wait for the eternal judgement. He asked the farmers to bury the squire far away in a glade or long a slope or under a walnut tree… somewhere. Nobody dared offer even a single meter of their lands fearing to see that body resurfing again while they were toiling.
The wise abbot then thought to bury those remains under the waters of the Dezzo. The farmers would stop the river with dams. They dug a hole, released the waters... So the problem would be solved thanks to the presence, above the tomb, of the liquid, a sign of purity and protection.
The next morning they were all by the river. Waiting.
The Lord of the castle never reappeared . The monk had seen well.
Days and months passed. Of Federici no longer any sign, or the semblance of an apparition. And the fear he felt faded away as time went by running away and healing everything.
But one summer night, while a farmer was waiting for the waters of the Dezzo to flow out and irrigate his small piece of land, a pipe in his mouth and distant thoughts, he saw a tall figure, sumptuously dressed, a high lapel on the back of his neck, glide over the moonlit waters of the river. He came forward without walking, quickly, and when he passed in front of him he discovered, with horror, that his arms were in front of his face and flames were coming out of each finger. Thus, Federici made himself light in the dark night. He was still looking for a piece of land for his grave, and for that peace he had not yet found.
Gian Mario Andrico