The Dragon Rib of Atessa – Atessa, Italy - Atlas Obscura

The Dragon Rib of Atessa

Atessa, Italy

A preserved dragon's rib that remembers the legend of the founding of the city of Atessa. 


Dragons are serious things.

Their legends have inspired everything from fairy tales to novels all over the world for centuries. Even brave religious men have challenged them to unfair fights for sanctification, honor, and greatness. This is a well-known narrative for the people of Atessa, Italy where they preserve a large bone that is said to be a rib from one of the mythical creatures.

The local legend says that Atessa was once two different villages, Ate and Tixa. The two small villages were separated by a marsh or river which was nearly impossible to cross due to the dragon that lived in there. After spending years giving tribute to the dragon in the form of food and livestock, the two villages decided to seek the help of a specialist: Leucio, Bishop of Brindisi and dragon-buster, who had already supposedly already killed a dragon in his city. The man went into the lair by himself and subdued the vile creature with only his glance and willpower, chained the monster for seven days to satisfy folks’ curiosity, then killed it. The dragon’s magical blood was used to cure diseases and to turn the marsh into fertile farmland. After this epic struggle, the two villages merged together and a church was built directly over the dragon’s lair to honor Saint Leucio.

The church stands to this day and contains one of what they claim was the dragon’s ribs. The large bone is held behind glass in a viewing case that is itself behind iron bars. The long, curved bone is believed by skeptics to be a part of a mammoth skeleton, but this has no more been verified than its belonging to a dragon. 





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