La Pia: Ante-Purgatory, Purgatorio 5
"Siena made me, Maremma unmade me" (5.134). This chillingly concise phrase tells us that the speaker here is Pia Tolomei: born to a noble family of Siena, this woman was allegedly killed in 1295 on the orders of her husband, Paganello de' Pannocchieschi. "Nello," a Tuscan leader of the guelphs, owned a castle in the Maremma (the coastal region near Siena). While some say the murder took place with such secrecy that its manner was never known, others claim Nello ordered a servant to take Pia by the feet and drop her from the castle window. A motive for the murder may have been Nello's desire to marry his neighbor, a widowed countess. Pia's concern for Dante's well being and her request to be remembered perhaps recall the courtesy displayed by another woman, Francesca, in the fifth canto of the Inferno.