Matteuccia di Francesco da Ripabianca, better known as Matteuccia da Todi, was one of the first women to be persecuted and condemned for witchcraft.

All that we know today about her life and death comes from the acts of the case that was brought against her and, because she and others did not intervene in the defence, it is necessary to analyse every word to understand the information that came to us.
What happened in Todi in 1428, when Matteuccia was tried by the Tribunal of the Malefici and condemned to the stake by Captain Lorenzo de Surdis, can be traced through the places in the city where the sad event took place.

So let's start from the Historical Archive of the Municipality of Todi where are kept the precious reports of the trial and the sentence, written in Latin, that report in detail the charges against the woman.They tell how Matteuccia was able to heal the sick, remove bills and malocchi, make love and stop violent husbands, they even tell of two famous episodes: the first one that would have seen her take a magical flight to the walnut tree of Benevento riding the devil in the guise of a goat, the second in which he convinced a man to recover the body of a drowned man in the Tiber to extract an oil that would cure the wounds of a sick person.

It so happens that the man in charge of the mission was in the service of Braccio da Montone, leader and captain of fortune who was lord of Perugia and for a short time also of Todi, who crashed several times with the Church and Pope Martin V. It seems that Andrea Fortebraccio himself - this is his real name- benefited from the services of the "witch", and perhaps it was for this reason, when the knight died in 1424, the protection assured to Matteuccia was lost and she was condemned for political matters and was burnt at the stake in the public square to give a clear and strong message to the supporters of Braccio.

After the condemnation they put a mitre on the woman's head, tied her hands behind her back and, on the back of a donkey, led her to the place of the stake which is said to be today's Piazzetta del Montarone in the Borgo district.

Among his accusers was also Bernardino da Siena, a Franciscani Friar Minor, who preached against women he suspected of working in the service of the devil, and who, of course, was devoted to the Pope. It is said that the historic monumental lime tree in front of the Convent of Montesanto was planted by Bernardino himself, on the occasion of the religious man's visit to Todi in 1428.

There are two other places in Todi where Matteuccia da Ripabianca is remembered: the first is Piazza del Popolo, where in 2013 on the occasion of the Todi Festival was staged the show "Processo alla strega", written by Silvano Spada, directed by Enrico Lamanna and starring the famous actress Ornella Muti; the second is the "Orto della strega Matteuccia", the garden of aromatic and medicinal herbs of the Agricultural Institute of Todi. The school decided to name the garden after the woman because Matteuccia was, first of all, Domina Herbarum, a herb-garden and healer, who knew about the healing and medicinal properties of the plants that are grown here today.