(Matilde Anghinoni) The power of Shakespeare’s myth has made Verona the capital of eternal love. Few people know, however, that besides Romeo and Juliet, there are two other Veronese heroes who fought to be together for eternity. They are Malco and Silvia, the protagonists of the legend of the love knot of Valeggio sul Mincio. A love story linked to Tortellino di Valeggio, the typical stuffed pasta of the area, and to the waters of the Mincio, a river that leaves Lake Garda at Peschiera and flows into Valeggio sul Mincio.

the Silvia and Malco's legend

The legend has its origins in the 14th century, when northern Italy was torn by numerous civil wars, and a lord of Milan, Giangaleazzo Visconti, also known as “the Count of Virtue”, went to Valeggio sul Mincio to draw up a military plan. At sunset, while the soldiers were sleeping in the camp, nymphs emerged from the waters of the Mincio and began to dance. Only Captain Malco woke up and began to fight these mysterious creatures, which looked like terrible witches. As they fled, one of them lost her cloak and turned into a beautiful nymph, making Captain Malco fall madly in love with her. Their love grew throughout the night, but Silvia was forced to return to the river, leaving her lover a knotted handkerchief as a token of her love.

Giangaleazzo Visconti, The Count of Virtue

The next day, Malco and his companions went to a reception given by the Count of Virtue. Among the dancers at the banquet, Malco immediately recognised Silvia, who had decided to take to the water for love of the soldier. But their looks aroused the jealousy of Isabella, the Count’s cousin, who had long aspired to the Captain’s love. Driven by jealousy, Isabella told the Count that Silvia was in fact a witch, and the Count immediately gave orders to have Silvia arrested. Concerned for the fate of his beloved, Malco intervened between the guards and Silvia, allowing her to escape. The captain, however, did not follow her and was imprisoned in the royal cells. At sunset, Isabella, feeling guilty, went to Malco’s cell to ask for forgiveness.

Count of Virtue’s guards

While the two were talking, Silvia appeared to rescue her lover and forced Isabella to retreat in defeat. The beautiful nymph then proposed to Malco that they flee together to the only place where they could live together for eternity, the waters of the river. Meanwhile, the Count’s guards had been alerted to Malco’s escape and set out in pursuit, but were promptly stopped by Isabella, who repented and begged to be released. The Count and his guards searched for Malco and Silvia all the way to the banks of the river, but all they found was a knotted golden silk handkerchief: the symbol of the bond between the two lovers.

Even today, stories are told of how the women and girls of the time would re-enact this love story on festive occasions by rolling out a thin, silky pastry, cut and knotted like the golden handkerchief and filled with a delicate filling. This is how the legend (and the shape) of Tortellino di Valeggio was born: the Nodo d’Amore.