A blonde lock of Lucrezia Borgia's hair is kept in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana (a Milano), in a precious display case, created by Alfredo Ravasco, one of the best Milanese goldsmiths of the first half of the twentieth century. With a malachite base, it features two medallions with the heraldic coat of arms of the Borgias, hanging from a pearl chain, at the two lower corners: a bull.


A legend is connected to the lock, considered a real relic. It is said that the noblewoman would wander into the art gallery every night to comb her hair.

Controversial figure

Lucrezia Borgia (1480-1519) is considered one of the most beautiful and fascinating women of her time, as well as one of the most controversial female figures of the Italian Renaissance. She was the illegitimate daughter of Pope Alexander VI. She married first Giovanni Sforza, lord of Pesaro, then Alfonso d'Aragona, illegitimate son of Alfonso II of Naples, and finally Alfonso I d'Este of the ducal house of Ferrara.

Lucrezia Borgia

It was in Ferrara, where he worked to create an independent court and where he resumed his studies, that he met Peter Bembo, Venetian poet and man of letters, later cardinal, with whom he lived an intense love story. Bembo dedicated “Gli Asolani” to her and she reciprocated by giving him a shiny blonde lock of hers as a gift.

Pietro Bembo's love letters

The art gallery also houses a series of love letters between Lucrezia and her beloved which testify to all the difficulties of their love. It is thought that it was Bembo himself who brought Lucrezia's hair to Milan, keeping it in a piece of correspondence, or that someone did it after her death.

Lucrezia Borgia, lock

It was already present in the manuscript inventories of the museum wanted by the cardinal Frederick Borromeo, since 1685, together with the nine letters sent to Bembo. In 1816, when the English poet George Gordon Byron he visited the art gallery and stated that he had never seen hair "so blond" like that. In those years, the lock was not yet kept in the shrine, but in a glass casket, together with the love correspondence. From that moment on, Lucrezia Borgia's hair became the main attraction for writers and poets who went to Milan.

picture gallery

The legend

The story of Lucrezia Borgia continues to fascinate scholars and intrigue curious people from all over the world. It seems that on some nights, through the windows of the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, you can see a light coming from the room where the lock of Lucrezia's hair is kept. They say it is the ghost of the Duchess, who arrives and reads the letters of her beloved Pietro, but not before combing her blonde hair.

(Photo: Pinacoteca Ambrosiana; Lucrezia Borgia, Facebook Pages)

Lucrezia Borgia and the lock of gold kept in the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana last edit: 2024-05-23T07:00:00+02:00 da Antonietta Malito

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