Francesca da Rimini (1260 – 1285)
How not to mention, among the famous female figures of Romagna, Francesca da Rimini, the "Francesca di Dante", condemned to hell for having loved a man out of wedlock?
The sad story of Francesca was, unfortunately, a true biography, to be included in the black chronicle of the 13th century. Daughter of Guido da Polenta, lord of Ravenna, she was given in marriage to Gianciotto Malatesta, a leader who fought in the war against the rival family of the Traversari. She had the "misfortune" of falling in love with her husband's brother, Paolo, with whom she had an adulterous relationship.
Discovered by Gianciotto, as Dante and other chroniclers of the time tell, the two were killed by his jealousy - and by the sword. The piety with which Dante tells us of this love - illegitimate by the canons of the time, but so sincere as to be moving - make Francesca da Rimini the symbol of those female heroines who, despite being crushed by a patriarchal system, were able to rebel and risk everything to follow your heart.
Christine de Pizan (1364-1430)
Originally from Pizzano, a small village on the extreme tip of the western Romagna hills, Christine was a writer and historian, surprising author of some of the most ancient documents that can be defined as "feminists" for the attention and delicacy with which she deals with the theme of women. and their rights.
Born in Romagna, she grew up at the court of King Charles V of France. She is known for being the first professional writer, because upon her husband's death she supported her children through her literary compositions.
She was at the head - an incredible thing for the time - of a writing studio in which manuscripts and illuminated texts were produced.
Christine de Pizan has left us poems, "novels", biographies, political and religious commentaries in which she defends women's education, gender equality, the virtues and prerogatives of its genre. Among her most famous writings is Le Livre de la Cité des Dames, one of the first examples of a collection of biographies of famous women. He donated the book to Queen Isabella of Bavaria to counter the widespread medieval idea that women were "missing men", daughters of vice and lust.
Caterina Sforza (1463-1509)
A woman of incredible charm, bravado and courage, Caterina Sforza is perhaps the most famous woman of the Italian Renaissance.
Celebrated in films, TV series and even video games, she was renamed the "Lioness of Romagna" for her warrior attitude, which saw her take the field in defense of her possessions in Imola and Forlì, dowry of her husband Girolamo Riario, nephew of Pope Sixtus IV. The most famous episode of her biography is the taking of Castel Sant’Angelo, in Rome, with which she proved to be an emancipated woman, ready to do anything to defend her rights. In 1480, when Pope Sixtus IV died, chaos broke out in Rome.
Afraid of losing her lordship over Imola and Forlì, Caterina - who was pregnant! - he placed himself in command of a garrison: he conquered Castel Sant’Angelo and aimed his guns at the Vatican, where the cardinals met for the conclave. He threatened to fire until he was promised a large sum of money and full possession of his possessions in Romagna. Caterina was famous for her strength of mind, but also for her culture. During his lifetime he devoted himself to the most varied activities, among which he excelled in alchemy, hunting and dancing. During his regency in Forlì, with the trusted Forlivian apothecary Ludovico Albertini he created beauty products and medicinal remedies dedicated to women.
His fortunes, however, were shattered by the advance of the Borgias, who at the end of the 15th century conquered Romagna and exiled it to Florence, where Caterina devoted herself to the education of her children and to experiments in alchemy.