Here is part two of Italy Chronicles’ Halloween special. If the the tale of the lady with big boots doesn’t give you nightmares, then the story of the demonic abbey which wreaks of rotten flesh, may well do. Or how about the screams of the blue-haired girl?
There are lots of eerie places in Italy: the catacombs in Palermo with its creepy mummified children, virgins and a few elderly people suspended from the walls. Then there’s the Capuchin Crypt in Rome with the bones of 4,000 monks on display.
But those are mere child’s play compared to Italy’s supposedly haunted and appropriately gloomy medieval castles.
Here are a few eerie stories to help breed some terrifying nightmares.
The Lady With Big Boots
Crecchio Castle (Castello di Crecchio) in Abruzzo was built in the 11th century. According to many accounts heavy footsteps can be heard on the top floor, as a beautiful woman, probably wearing big boots, walks through the castle’s rooms.
The woman is supposedly the mistress of Baron De Riseis, who lived in the castle in the 19th century. According to some, the heavy footsteps might belong to the Baron himself. But who knows for sure?
I was in the castle one evening during a local festival, but all I could hear were the noises of real people on the streets. Some passages and corridors did look quite spooky in the flickering lights.
The Girl With Blue Hair
The legend of Azzurrina has been known in the area near Rimini for many centuries.
In the 14th century there was Guendolina, a girl-albino with snow-white hair in the Montebello castle (castello di Montebello). Her parents were worried about the popular superstitions according to which albino-people were somewhat demonic.
The father didn’t allow the girl to leave the castle and the mother coloured Guendolina’s hair dark but it always looked as blue as her eyes, so she was nicknamed Azzurrina (“azzurro” means “blue”).
One day, on summer solstice, while playing in the basement of the castle, blue haired Guendolina disappeared. Some said her the father killed her but her body was never found.
Now, apparently, every five years on June 21, people hear a strange sound in the castle: the sound of a girl crying, shouting for help and calling “mamma”.
You can hear the recordings of the Center of Para-psychological Studies in Bologna here (fast-forward to 6:50).
Stop reading, start speaking
Stop translating in your head and start speaking Italian for real with the only audio course that prompt you to speak.
Or visit the castle during one of their late night tours. Wooooooo!
The Demonic Abbey
The Lucedio Abbey (Abbazia di Santa Maria di Lucedio)in Piedmont was built in the 12th century and according to the local legend the monks here served not God but Satan.
These monks performed black magic rituals, which included torturing and sodomizing young men and, as the local villagers claimed, succeeded in evoking the devil.
The abbey closed in the 15th century and stood abandoned for 300 years. It saw a succession of owners from the 1700s on who were all too happy to get rid of the gloomy, seemingly cursed place.
For a long time those who visited the abbey have told stories about the Weeping Pillar which oozes the tears of the men tortured here. As if that were not scary enough, the sounds of screaming can be heard inside the rooms, and the pungent odour of rotting can be smelt.
The Town of Witches
If you are faint-hearted and ghosts really do scare the living daylights out of you, then head to small town of Triora in Liguria, where witches were put on trial in the 16th century.
A total of 50 hapless women were accused of witchcraft and causing famine in the surrounding area. The alleged witches were interrogated and, as was the custom of the day, tortured. Actually, they were probably interrogated and tortured at the same time. The documents of the trial can be seen in the local museum of witches.
Just don’t tell your friends that you chose elderly witches over the scary lady-ghost or the perverted monks. They will think you are a total wuss!
There you go, if you are in Italy, you now have plenty of places to spend this coming Halloween night, if you are brave enough, that is. Bet you aren’t!
Remember to check out part one, if you are feeling courageous enough, that is.
Anna Lebedeva has lived in Russia and Ireland for many years. Now she lives and works as a freelance journalist in Italy and runs her Green Holiday in Italy travel blog.
When not researching or writing her next article, Anna is trying to grow organic vegetables in her garden or persuading her lively floppy-eared dog Gogol (named after the Russian writer) not to trample on the seedlings. She loves creating her own vegetarian recipes, cooking, hiking in the Apennines or simply relaxing with a glass of Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wine.