Who has never done madness for love at least once in a lifetime? The follies of love have always been the subject of tales: Dante Alighieri dedicated immortal verses to Paolo and Francesca and Romeo and Juliet by the great William Shakespeare inspired artists all over the world.
Naples is a city that lends itself to be the background to love stories, that must be told so as not to be forgotten. Today we tell you about a love that was born in this city and that, flanked by the cunning, was able to give strength to a man, allowing him to defeat The Devil.
The Legend of Palazzo Penne
When Antonio Penne arrived in Naples in the fifteenth century, he fell in love with a beautiful young woman. The girl’s name has not reached our day but her demands will be surely unforgettable for you: she had, in fact, many suitors and subjected Antonio to an impossible test to discourage him.
The maiden asked the suitor to build a large palace in one night. That’s impossible, isn’t it? Not for Antonio Penne!
The young man made a pact with the Devil, who would help him to build the palace in exchange for his soul, but he was shrewd and he thought well to include in the contract a small clause, immediately showing himself good enough for his bride: Antonio would have rendered his soul to the Devil only if the devil was successful in a daring venture to count all the wheat grains scattered in the courtyard of the palace.
Penne’s challenge seemed simple and his soul destined to be prey to the devil.
The lover, however, proved to The Devil all his cunning: after the construction was completed, he sprinkled the grains of pitch, making impossible to count them.
The devil, realized the wrongdoing, got very angry and unleashed his anger on the young man but, as soon as Antonio made the sign of the cross, a huge hole opened in the Palace courtyard, causing the devil to sink into the depths of the Earth.
Today there is a well there and it is said that it is just in that point the devil sank.
So Antonio married the beautiful girl and the couple lived in the palace that today overlooks Piazza Teodoro Monticelli, a few steps from Largo Bianchi Nuovi: Palazzo Penne.
Antonio Penne and his palace
Antonio Penne was the secretary of Ladislaus the Magnanimous, king of Naples, who came to Naples from the small town of Penne in Abruzzo, by a wealthy middle-class family. In 1399 he became compiler of the Royal concessions, such was his prestige at court that he was authorized to erect his own funeral monument in the Monastery of Santa Chiara.
The Palace, that today bears his name, is known throughout Naples as The Palace of the Devil, or as the Neapolitans say ‘O Palazzo ‘e Belzebù. Unfortunately it is not possible to access it but, also visiting only the outer part, makes us relive the evocative legend of the young Penne, who was so shrewd and in love to defeat the devil.