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Corso Calatafimi, 100, Palermo

The places of Boccaccio's literary tale: Cuba Castle

Site inserted in the Assets inserted in the places of Boccaccio's literary tale in the IWB register of the Sicily Region (The Places of the literary, cinematographic, television story) - Sector "The Places of Boccaccio's literary story

This is the list of places entered in the LIM register:

  • (Decameron -V novella, 4th day) Messina
  • (Decameron - II novella, 5th day) Lipari Island (Messina province)
  • (Decameron - VI story, 5th day) Cuba Castle (Palermo)
  • (Decameron - X novella, 8th day) Port of Palermo
  • (Decameron - VII story, 10th day) Caltabellotta (province of Agrigento); Cefalù (prov. Palermo)



Gian di Procida, found with a young woman he loved and was given to King Frederick, is tied to a stake for having to be burned with her; recognized by Ruggiero di Loria, he lives and becomes her husband.

After Neifile's story, which the women liked very much, the queen commanded Pampinea to tell another one.

And she quickly began, specifying that the forces of love were infinite and subjected the lovers to infinite labors and great dangers. All this could be understood from the things told up to then and from the daring exploits of a young lover

He went on to say that in Ischia, an island very close to Naples, there lived, among many others, a beautiful and cheerful young girl, named Restituta, daughter of a gentleman on the island, called Marino Bulgaro.

A young man, named Gianni, from the nearby island of Procida, loved the girl more than his life and was reciprocated by her.

The young man, since he could not go to Ischia from Procida during the day, to see her, often at night, not having found a boat, he went to Ischia to swim, to see, if not her, at least the walls of his house.

This being the case, one day the young woman, while she was collecting shells on the rocks, all alone, removing them from the stones with a small knife, came to a secluded corner, hidden by the rocks, where some young Sicilians were. They had settled there because there was plenty of shade and a fountain of very fresh water.

The young people seeing that the beautiful girl was alone, decided to capture her and take her away. Although she screamed a lot, they caught her, loaded her into a boat and left.

Once in Calabria, they began to argue over who should have the girl.

Fearing to spoil their relations, they decided to give it to Frederick II, King of Sicily, who was then young and liked these things; the king, seeing her beautiful, had her dear.

As she was a little weak in health, until she regained her strength, he had her placed in a castle with a splendid garden, called “La Cuba”.

The news of the kidnapping of the young woman spread throughout Ischia, but it was not possible to know who had kidnapped her.

Gianni without news reaching Ischia, since he knew in which direction the Sicilian frigate had gone, had a ship armed, exploring the whole Tyrrhenian coast up to Scalea in Calabria, asked for information.

At Scalea he was told that the girl had been brought to Palermo by Sicilian sailors.

Having gone immediately to Palermo, Gianni, after much research, learned that she had been given to the king and was kept in the castle of Cuba. Strongly disturbed, he almost completely lost hope not only of being able to get her back but also of being able to see her again. Yet, detained by love, he sent the ship away and remained in Palermo.

Passing very often under the Cuba, by chance he saw it one day at the window and Restituta saw him, to the great joy of both of them. Gianni, seeing that the place was lonely, came as close as he could and spoke to her.

Having examined the layout of the place, late at night, he returned and, clinging to the walls, where the peaks could have been clinging, he entered the garden. With the help of a pole, he went up to the window of the young woman.

She, thinking that by now she had lost her honor, wanting to give herself to him to be carried away, had left the window open so that he could pass.

Gianni silently entered and lay down beside the young woman, who was not sleeping. She made a promise that she would take her with her. After that, hugging each other, they made love several times, with great pleasure.

Eventually, without realizing it, they fell asleep in each other's arms.

Meanwhile the king, having regained his strength, remembering Restituta, decided to go and stay with her for a while.

Accompanied by a servant, he went to Cuba; when he entered the castle, he silently opened the room in which the young woman was staying, illuminated by a large candle, he saw her and Gianni sleeping in the bed, naked and embraced.

Angered, he almost killed them both with the knife on his side. Then, believing that it was very cowardly, especially for a king, to kill the two naked while they slept, he thought of having them publicly burned at the stake. Turning to the only man he had brought with him, remembering that he had placed his hope in that despicable woman, he asked him if he knew that young man who had had the courage to come into his house and insult him in that way. The companion replied that he had never seen him.

The king ordered that the two lovers, naked as they were, as soon as day, were taken to Palermo and shoulder to shoulder in the square, tied to a pole, until the third hour, so that they could be seen by all; finally they were burned as they deserved. Having said this, he returned enraged to Palermo.

When the king left, the guards woke the two lovers and, without any mercy, captured them and bound them.

The two unfortunates grieved and feared for their life.

They, as the king had commanded, were taken to Palermo and tied to a pole in the square, while the pyre was being prepared before their eyes on which they were to burn at the hour set by the king.

Immediately all the Palermitans ran to see the young woman, praising her for her beauty, the women to look at the young man who was equally well done.

The unfortunate lovers, greatly ashamed, stood with their heads down, weeping for their misfortune, waiting for the death of the fire.

While everyone was there, waiting for the appointed time, the news reached Ruggiero di Loria, a valiant man and, at the time, the king's admiral, who immediately went to the square to see them.

There, he first looked at the girl and admired her beauty, then looked at the young man. He immediately recognized him and, approaching him, asked him if he was Gianni di Procida. Gianni confirmed that it was really him, but for a little while longer, because he was about to be burned, because of Love and the king's anger.

Then he told Ruggiero the whole story and asked him for a last grace. Resigned to dying, he asked to be tied to the woman he had loved more than life, with faces turned towards each other, not with their backs, so that he could see her face, drawing comfort, dying.

Smiling, Ruggiero replied that he would make sure that Gianni could see the much-loved face for a long time. He ordered the guards to suspend the execution until further notice and, without delay, went to the king, to whom he asked what offense he had received from the two young men.

He also asked him if he knew who the two he had sentenced to the stake were.

He explained to him that the young man was the son of Landolfo di Procida, brother of Messer Giann di Procida, thanks to whom Federico was lord of Procida. The girl was the daughter of Marino Bulgaro, thanks to whom Ischia was still under his lordship. He specified that the two, driven by love, not out of lack of respect for the king, had committed that sin. Finally he asked the king to save and honor them.

The king, hearing what Ruggiero told him, not only suspended the execution, but regretted what he had ordered. Having known all their history, he freed them and gave them rich gifts to compensate for the injury they had done.

Then, hearing that they both wanted him, he made the girl marry Gianni.

Finally, he sent them back to their home, where they were greeted with great parties and lived happily together for a long time.


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