Published on : Wednesday, October 18, 2017
In celebration of the Halloween season, Italy holiday specialists Italy4Real have compiled a guide to some of the spookiest sights in Italy.
In Italy, Halloween is an event which locals have only started celebrating in recent years, with Italians instead celebrating All Saints Day and All Souls Day on 1st and 2nd November respectively.
This may mean there aren’t as many traditional Halloween celebrations across Italy, but with haunted islands, underground burial sites and cursed houses to explore, there are plenty of mystical marvels on offer for a frighteningly good time in Italy this Halloween.
1) Visit the Town of Witches
Known as ‘the Salem of Europe’, the ancient town of Triora in the Liguria region is famous for holding a series of witch trials through 1587 to 1589. The trials accused a total of 200 local women of being witches, holding them responsible for the ongoing plagues and acid rain affecting the area, as well as livestock killings and even cannibalism of newborns.
Triora hosts a number of folklore and horror themed events through the year, and Halloween is of course no exception. Over 30th and 31st October the locals dress in costume – many women dressing as witches of course – pumpkins are carved and haunted tours take place. On Halloween night the Medieval town is completely lit by 200 pumpkins, and the townspeople host a costume contest.
2) Stop by ‘The House That Kills’
Quite possibly the most famous haunted house in the world, the Dario Palace in Venice is plagued with tragedy. Also known as ‘The House that Kills’, nearly every person who has owned, lived in or even been associated with the building has come to an unfortunate end.
The curse began back in the 15th Century, when Marietta Dario – the daughter of the home’s original owner – killed herself. Marietta’s husband was also murdered, and their son was killed shortly after. Since then there has been a series of dramatic and mysterious deaths associated with the palace, the most recent in 2002 when the new tenant suffered a heart attack just one week after renting the home.
The palace was built atop an ancient Templar cemetery, and the scripture engraved on the building is an anagram which translates to ‘He who lives in this house will go to ruin.’ That may explain the curse!
3) Explore the underground burial sites
From crypts to catacombs, Rome’s underground world is filled with mazes of burial sites holding the bodies and bones of centuries-old corpses.
The Rome Catacombs are underground ancient burial sites, which were used to bury thousands of dead bodies through the 2nd to 5th century. The Catacombs of Domitilla are the oldest of the catacombs and the only one which still contains human remains.
The Capuchin Crypts are another eerie burial site in Rome, this one home to the Capuchin monks. The crypt contains the corpses of 4000 ancient monks, whose bones have been used to decorate the crypt. In the unusual tribute to their dead colleagues the Capuchin monks used the bones and skulls of the deceased to create doorways, lanterns, motifs and even a grim reaper statue which hangs from the ceiling.
Underneath the St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican you can explore the Vatican Necropolis which is home to the tomb of St Peter himself.
Outside of Rome in the tiny town of Ferentillo, mummies lie buried below the Church of Santo Stefano. The bodies buried here were preserved by a rare micro fungus which resulted in mummification. Some of the mummies can be viewed at The Museum of the Mummies of Ferentillo underneath the church. Many of these creepy corpses still maintain their hair, beards and teeth.
4) Take a trip to the most haunted place in Italy
Located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon is the island of Poveglia, thought to be the most haunted place in Italy. For centuries, the secluded little piece of land was the final resting place for the diseased, dying and deceased. Venetians were sent to the island to die during the Bubonic Plague and Black Death epidemic.
In the 1900s the island was home to a hospital, where it was rumoured the hospital director performed horrific experiments on the patients. The doctor later threw himself from the top of a tower, supposedly tortured by the ghosts of the patients he killed.
The island is believed to be haunted by the hundreds of thousands of souls who died on the island, and local legend says that 50% of the soil is formed of human ash.
5) Get a glimpse of the lost souls in Purgatory
Within the small church of Sacra Cuore Suffragio in Rome lies the Museum of Souls in Purgatory.
The church claims to have recorded several instances of souls trapped in Purgatory – the state between heaven and hell. The lost souls have reportedly visited the church seeking help to pass on to heaven.
Evidence of the souls’ calls include handprints burned into the pages of prayer books and imprints on sleeves.
6) Sleep in a haunted hotel
If you’re feeling particularly brave you can even stay in one of Italy’s haunted hotels. The Castello della Castelluccia hotel is an 11th century castle which has been described as fairytale-like.
However, it is not only fairytales associated with the castle but ghost stories too. The hotel is believed to be haunted by three ghosts, including the tyrannical Emperor Nero, the 5th Emperor of Rome.
It is said the ghost of Nero wanders the gardens of the castle and guests have reported seeing phantom horses passing by in the night.
7) Celebrate at Italy’s First Halloween Event
As Halloween isn’t a traditional celebration in Italy, larger Halloween events didn’t start running in the city until the 1990s. The Halloween Celebration held at Devil’s Bridge in Borgo a Mozzano, a small town in the province of Lucca, claims to be Italy’s first ever Halloween Event.
The popular festival has been running since 1993 and is the biggest Halloween event in Italy. The celebration includes a passage of terror, an interactive game called ‘Black Night’ and horror movies screened through the night.
Italy4Real specialise in tailor-made Italy holidays and can personalise a spooky Halloween break in Italy, including accommodation and tours.