Riding the wave

Another figurehead from the northen Europe is Atalanta; of it Giorgio Batini tells the mysterious and murky story. The mystery wraps it since its discovery in the middle of the Atlantic by the corvette Fast in 1866, because no one knows the fate of the ship to which it had belonged.

It seems that, immediately after recovery, it had been placed in the Naval Museum in Genoa and then had been moved to La Spezia when the city completed the construction of the arsenal and became the seat of the First Marine Department in 1870.

The wooden sculpture depicts a bare-breasted woman clad in a tunic, and a legend tells that it has the power to seduce men and lead them to die of love and despair.

Rumor has it that this fate had it first, in those early days, the custodian of the museum; in love with the figurehead, he had been admiring it for days before taking his own life.

A similar episode was recorded by the press after World War II, in relation to a German soldier stationed in La Spezia. This one, fascinated by the figurehead, visited it many times and finally, unable to detach himself from Atalanta, even stole it from the museum and brought it at home in the city.

One day a buddy went to friend's home, and found him dead at the bottom of the figurehead, holding a ticket with which he explained that he had offered to her its own life.

(La Spezia, Naval Museum).