Likely the daughter of Thofania d’Adamo who was executed in 1633 for allegedly killing her husband, Giulia Tofana was a professional poisoner from Italy.
Following in her mother’s footsteps with a slight change of direction, Giulia was said to have developed Aqua Tofana (meaning ”Tofana Water”), a poison she sold for 50 years to would-be-widows who discreetly purchased her compound to kill their husbands, though the recipe for said poison may have been passed down from her mother.
The compound was tasteless and colorless, making it very easy to disguise in a glass of wine or even water.
Her daughter, Girolama Spera, known as “Astrologa della Lungara”, was also said to be actively involved in the business.
Due to her sympathy towards women trapped in difficult marriages, she became liked by her customers for giving them a way out. This played a bit part when someone eventually blew the whistle on her business.
The locals protected her when the Papal authorities heard of her business. Guilia escaped to a church. When the rumor of her poisoning the water in Rome got out, authorities forced entry into the church to detain her.
Under torture, Giulia confessed to killing 600 men in just Rome and was finally executed with her daughter, along with three other accomplices in July, 1659.
Previous customers were eventually arrested as well, while more accomplices were later apprehended and said to be bricked into the dungeons of the Palazzo Pucci to die in confinement.
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