La Polena Atalanta

Magic at Museo Navale: the figurehead Atalanta, so beautiful she can kill

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One of the highlights of the Naval Museum of Spezia collection is the figurehead of Atalanta. She is said to be so beautiful that men fall in love until they go crazy.

If you go to the Naval Museum of Spezia, be careful not to stare for too long the beautiful figurehead of Atalanta. Why? Because it will make you fall in love and then go crazy. And if it happened to you, you wouldn’t be the first. Legend says, the beauty of Atalanta has already made some casualties in the past.

Atalanta: fished from the waters to make men mad

Where Atalanta arrives no one knows. The figurehead makes its appearance in 1866, when the captain of the gunboat Veloce fished it in the waters of the Atlantic, without being able to collect any information about the ship to which it originally belonged.
It was the captain of the gunboat Veloce to name the sculpture Atalanta, and to deliver it – once landed – at the Naval Museum in Genoa, from where it was moved in the newborn Naval Museum of Spezia in 1870.
And right in the Museum of La Spezia begins the curse of Atalanta

The figurehead Atalanta, so beautiful she can kill

It was the keeper of the museum the first to fall victim of the incredible charm of Atalanta. It is said that the man, who cruised to work every day his own eyes with those of the figurehead, fell in love with the statue. He began to stay for hours stopped to look at her, to go crazy. Destroyed by that impossible love, the man came to hang himself in front of the figurehead.
Not happier was the fate of the young carpenter which was commissioned to restore the wooden statue. After fifteen days spent locked in the lab with the figurehead Atalanta, the man was found at the foot of the figure-head with a knife in the heart. In the carpenter’s hands, a note explaining how to push him to suicide had been the mad passion unleashed in him by the figurehead.

 
 

“No woman is like you, Atalanta; therefore I sacrifice my life”

“Because no woman except you can give me the life I dream of, but Atalanta, I sacrifice to her my life” this is the note that was found next to the body of a German soldier, the third victim of the mad love for the figurehead Atalanta.
The soldier, stationed in La Spezia, saw the statue on display in the museum and fell in love to the point of stealing it and hiding it in the apartment where he lived. From that moment no one saw him around anymore, until two weeks after a fellow soldier smashed through the door of the house, finding him dead in front of the statue.
The farewell letter left no doubt: it was the third victim of the beautiful (and cursed) figurehead Atalanta.

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