Olimpia Frangipane 1761-1830

Born in Mirabello Sannitico, in the Contado del Molise a few kilometers away from Campobasso, in one of the most fervent periods of our national history. She was a female figure known for her beauty and culture. Olimpia, daughter of Francesco Frangipane, Duke of Mirabello Sannitico, was married at the age of 20 to the Baron of Castelbottaccio, 26 years old.

Soon the young baroness was able to capture the spirit of new times and new ideas in the salons of Naples, where she used to winterevery year. Returning to Molise  for the summer, the baroness brought a political and cultural innovation with her, fuelling the intellectual fervour that was being born even on the outskirts of the Kingdom. She transformed a hunting pavilion of her residence in Molise into a club, promoting meetings and debates between men of action and intellectuals of the region. Many crossed the river on muleback in order not to miss the stimulant meetings hold by the Baroness.

A political and intuitive mind, gone down in history as a sort of Molisan Madame De Stael, Olimpia Frangipane Ricciardi had the merit of gathering a neo-illuminist cultural cenacle at Palazzo Cardone in Castelbottaccio, attended by fervent supporters of    republican ideas popular during the late eighteenth century. For this reason she attracted admiration, but also a lot of defamation caused by her close contacts with people bewitched by the beauty of the revolutionary Baroness. Among the most famous visitors was Vincenzo Cuoco, a great admirer and friend of the Baroness, so much so that he included her as a female character of antiquity in his book “Plato in Italy”. This is what Cuoco says about her: “… She knew drawing, dancing, poetry, and above all the other fine arts, she loved and cultivated music, and her observations were daughters of her arts. With this woman, then, I reasoned almost a month with her about pleasure and beauty…”

He ended up among the victims of the damnatio memoriae perpetrated by the Bourbons; after his death an icy silence fell on his memory and in Molise, as in Naples, not even a trace of his faded portrait has remained. An energetic woman, attentive and capable of managing her heritage, a free spirit, she was a loyal and generous woman who was not spared grief and pain. She spent her last days alone and without comfort, she died in Naples at the age of 69.