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Born on a day of rain and omens, Virdimura bears the name of the moss that emerges tenaciously from the walls of Catania and knows almost nothing about her birth. She is brought up by her father, Master Urìa, a doctor and a Jew, ‘the highest of the Jews, the strongest, the holiest’. A man who knows the secrets of spices and the advances of science, who speaks many languages, who knows that one must learn from everything: from nature, from the road, from poetry. He teaches Virdimura to heal both bodies and souls, without distinguishing between Muslims, Christians or Jews. And above all, he passes on to her the most important secret: ‘Medicine does not demand skill. Only courage’.These words Virdimura repeats, now elderly, to the commission of judges assembled to decide whether to grant her, the first woman in history, a ‘licence to heal’. And before them, Virdimura retraces, in a vivid account, her whole life: her father’s struggle against the typhus epidemic infesting the city, the loneliness after his death, the tireless studies in the books he left her, the women visited in secret and operated on at night, the accusations of witchcraft she had to defend herself against, and above all the bond with Pasquale, her childhood friend who returned to her side after a long apprenticeship in the East, also a doctor, to remain by her side always, a faithful ally against all attacks of fate.Against the backdrop of a Catania ablaze with life, commerce, and religions, where destinies intersect in the shadow of seething Etna, Simona Lo Iacono gives us the grandiose portrait of an unforgettable protagonist, proud and courageous, who fights the superstitions and laws of men to affirm the right of all to be cured and of women to be free.Simona Lo Iacono was born in Syracuse in 1970. She is a magistrate and serves at the Catania Court of Appeal, Juvenile and Family Section. Her novels include Le streghe di Lenzavacche, winner of the Chianti Prize and selected among the twelve finalists for the 2016 Strega Prize, Il morso, L’albatro, La tigre di Noto, 2022, and Il mistero di Anna.


Simona Lo Iacono was born in Syracuse in 1970. She is a magistrate and serves at the Catania Court of Appeal, Juvenile and Family Section. Her novels include Le streghe di Lenzavacche, winner of the Chianti Prize and selected among the twelve finalists for the 2016 Strega Prize, Il morso, L’albatro, La tigre di Noto, 2022, and Il mistero di Anna.

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