La Bonissima (Bunessma
in the local dialect), is the
statue of a woman overhanging one corner of the square
of the Modena cathedral
The common explanation given for the name (Bonissima=the very good one) is that the statue portrays a noblewoman that, during the plague
outbreak that ravaged Europe
in the fourteenth century (often called Boccaccio
plague in Italy
), sacrificed herself to help her fellow citizens, to the point that she also fell a victim of the plague.
In all likelyhood, however, the origin of the statue comes from its original collocation on the door of the office overseeing the weights and measurements (called "the good estimate" = Bona Estima => Bonissima). If this is the case, then the statue probably portraits an allegorical figure (Justice?)
The corner of the Bonissima is a popular meeting (and chatting) point especially for women going shopping at the nearby market: because of this, 'Bonissima' is sometimes used, in Modena, to indicate a woman that gossips a lot.