The legend of the Baroness of Carini has its origins in a true story that actually happened in the 16th century. Over time, historical facts and figures have mixed with folk tales and songs that have come down to us orally.

The legend comes from the mysterious murder by her father of a young noble woman named Laura or Caterina, Baroness of Carini. This story has always aroused curiosity of historians and scholars of popular culture and traditions (among them Giuseppe Pitrè, Salomone Marino, Luigi Natoli), since a long tradition of popular poems and songs was born from the historical event, now belonging to the Sicilian tradition.

There are several versions of the legend of which we have evidence in the texts of scholars, poets and singers. All versions tell the story, set in the mid-1500s, of a young woman of only 14 years old, daughter of the Baron of Carini, who was killed by her father because she met her cousin, Ludovico Vernagallo, secretly and against the will of the family. Upon hearing the news, the baron ran to the castle of Carini to “defend honour” where he committed the crime, unleashing several blows on the girl. It seems that on the wall of the room where her murder took place, there is the imprint of the woman’s bloody hand, which she tried to escape before receiving the fatal blow.

In the popular songs handed down orally by the storytellers, the patricide and the consequent despair of her lover are highlighted. The legend still persists today, the burial place of the Baroness is not known, but it is said that it is in an underground crypt of the Church of Carini, or that it is in a sarcophagus of the church of San Mamiliano, in Palermo, which depicts a beautiful woman. It is also said that the ghost of the woman still haunts the castle of Carini today in search of revenge.

Real facts and legend have mixed over the centuries, giving life to a timeless story. Sicily has preserved this story over the centuries and made it a popular song, in Sicilian octaves with alternating rhyme (ABAB), still known today to many people and subjected over time to numerous interpretations and variations.

Natoli L., La Baronessa di Carini, Flaccovio Editore, Palermo, 1994
Pitrè G., Canti Popolari siciliani, Luigi Pedone-Lauriel Editore, Palermo, 1871
Rigoli A. (a cura di), La Baronessa di Carini: tradizione e poesia, Flaccovio Editore, Palermo, 1975
Salomone-Marino S., La Baronessa di Carini, Rist. anast. dell'ed. del 1870, Il Vespro, Palermo, 1980
La storia dei canti popolari siciliani (saggio estratto dalla rivista La Sicilia, anno III, n. 47), Tipografia di Michele Amenta, Palermo, 1868
Della storia della Baronessa di Carini. Nuove Effemeridi siciliane di Scienze, Lettere ad Arti 2, 1870
Vann'Antò, D’Anna G. (a cura di), La Baronessa di Carini: storia popolare del secolo XVI, Casa Editrice D’Anna, Messina, 1958
REI - Libro delle espressioni - Storia Popolare: la Baronessa di Carini