Haunted Northern Italy

Italy is a treasure trove of haunted places. And we can’t wait to tell you all the stories about this super magical country. Today we focus on Venice and Turin in the northern part. We’ll do the southern part, including Rome, soon!

Get ready for a spooky ride…

Turin—The City of Magic

Turin, Italy via Wikipedia.

Turin is considered one of the most supernatural cities on the planet, due to the labyrinth of tunnels beneath the city and the convergence of two rivers—the Po and Dora—that forms a “Y” shape. This “Y” shape is symbolic of good versus evil in both nature and man, and it splits the city in two parts. The west is considered the place where “light ends and darkness begins.” Even stranger, is that Turin sits at the intersection of two triangles, the Black Magic Triangle formed by highly negative lines joining London, San Francisco and the 45th parallel, and the White Magic Triangle formed by highly positive lines connecting Prague, Lyon and the 45th parallel. Where do these lines all intersect? Turin.

The Gate to Hell (and the sewer system) is supposedly located at the tip of the Black Triad, and the Shroud of Turin is located at the tip of the White Magic triad.

Nostradamus, the astrologer, physician and seer, lived and died in Turin. Some call Turin the City of the Devil. Some sources say that all the legends about Turin are fabrications, created to lure tourists. (See Giuditta Dembech.)

Here are the legends. You decide whether or not you believe them…

Gran Madre di Dio Church

Gran Madre di Dio via Wikipedia

Some think this church is only posing as a house of God. The architecture of the church was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome, which was a pagan temple. Statues on its façade have unusual features not found in most churches. The sculptures are of classical subjects, not religious, which support the pagan theory.

Detail of cup statue via simplyitaliana.com

There is a legend that claims the Holy Grail is buried in the city and connected to the Shroud of Turin. Supposedly, a statue holding a cup on the left side of the Gran Madre looks toward the grail’s hiding place.

The tympanum of the church states: ORDO POPVLVSQVE TAVRINVS OB ADVENTVM REGIS, which can be translated as: The Nobility and the Population of Turin for the Return of the King. Which king, hmm?

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Many believe this church is used by satanists.
  • Statue points to the alleged hiding place of the Holy Grail.

Go there:

Turin, Italy

The Gate to Hell

Statue on top of the Frejus Fountain via TripAdvisor

The somber square, Piazza Statuto, has a history of death and gloom and is considered one of Turin’s darkest places. Public executions took place here.

It is also located in the western part of the city—the west being considered the place where “light ends and darkness begins.”

Here, underneath an obelisk, is purportedly one of the Gates of Hell.

At the center of the piazza is the Fontana del Fréjus, dedicated to those who died building the Fréjus railway tunnel. Many believe the angel standing on top is Satan. I wonder if the pigeons know?

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • An obelisk in the piazza marks a gate to hell.
  • Sculpture on top of fountain is considered by some to be that of Satan.

Go there:

Piazza Statuto, Turin, Italy

The Alchemy Caves

Tunnels of Turin via Barrons

Beneath Palazzo Madama, in Piazza Castello, there are three magical caves where all the esoteric energy converges on the city (where the positive and negative lines intersect). These caves are nearly impossible to reach, mainly because of the labyrinth of caves and secret passages that riddles underground Turin. Many believe the tunnels are designed to confuse explorers and protect the caves.

Why It’s Supernatural:

Legend has it that if you find one of the caves, your thoughts and hopes but also your fears will materialize. It is said that Prince Umberto of Savoia managed to reach the first cave and, once there, thought about his biggest fear—assassination. He was killed in Monza a few days later.

Go There:

Piazza Castello, Turin, Italy

Venice—City of Secrets

A collage of Venice via Wikipedia

Venice, built over 188 islands and linked by 300 bridges, was a major financial and maritime power during the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. The city was a stepping-off place for the Crusades as well as a center of commerce from the 13th to the 17th century. With so many peoples, religions and travelers creating the historical fabric of this city, there are bound to be some paranormal edges. Here are just a few…

Island of Darkness

Poveglia Island via Wikipedia

Poveglia Island, a small isle in the Venetian lagoon, first appeared in historical records in 421. During that time, it is thought that refugees from Rome and Hun attacks settled in the Venice area. Poveglia Island itself was inhabited until 1379.

Starting in 1776, the island was used as a quarantine station for the plague and then as a mental hospital. One hospital director was notoriously cruel and was rumored to have performed horrific experiments on patients, including crude lobotomies while patients were conscious. The hospital closed in 1968.

In 2014, the island was put on the market and a prospective buyer was found, but plans to transform the island into a resort never materialized.

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • According to local legend, half the island’s soil is comprised of the remains of plague victims who died there.
  • Fisherman will not anchor near the island.
  • The spirits of plague victims and mental patients apparently haunt the ancient structures on the island.

Go there:

Poveglia Island, Venice, Italy

The House that Kills

Handsome Palazzo Dario sits on the end of the grand canal. It is called “The House of No Return” and “The House that Kills.” Built in 1479 for Giovanni Dario, Secretary of the Senate of the Republic of Venice, the palazzo soon developed a nasty reputation.

One clue to its curse is the fact that the Freemasons who built the house carved an inscription on the facade of the palace. It reads: Urbis Genio Joannes Darius (Giovanni Dario to the Genius of the City). Spookily enough, the anagram of the inscription spells out Sub Ruina Insidiosa Genero (I bring treacherous ruin to those who live under this roof). I wonder who figured that out.

All owners after Dario, as well as people attached to the home, have died by suicide, violence or sudden illness.

Here are just a few of the victims:

  • Dario’s daughter Marietta and her husband Vincenzo, inherited the home. Vincenzo was stabbed, Marietta died by suicide in the grand canal shortly after. Soon after their son was killed in a fight.
  • British scientist Radon Brown bought the property in 1838. Within four years, he became bankrupt and was discovered to have a male lover. The ensuing scandal drove him to suicide. He took his lover with him.
  • Charles Briggs, an American millionaire, met a similar end. After buying the property, he was found to be gay. Briggs fled to Mexico where his lover died by suicide. No mention was made of what happened to Briggs.
  • In the 1970s the Count of Turin, Filippo Giordano delle Lanze, bought the palazzo. Shortly thereafter, his lover Raul Blasich murdered him. Blasich fled to London where he died under violent circumstances.
  • There are many more similar stories.

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Legend has it that if a person buys the house and lives in the building more than twenty days, they will suffer financial ruin and a violent death.
  • The house was built on top of a Knights Templar cemetery. Many think the curse is a result of the desecration of the Templars resting place.

Go There:

Grand Canal, Venice, Italy

The Curse of the Camel Palace

Palazzo Mastelli delle Cammello via Wikipedia
Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello via Wikipedia

The gothic palazzo, Palazzo Mastelli del Cammello, is located in Campo dei Mori, Cannareggio. The house was constructed in the 12th century for three silk and spice merchant brothers, originally from the Peloponnese. Their family crest was the camel, which figures prominently in the embellishments of the structure. The exterior is adorned with the statues of four men and a camel. The fourth man is believed to have been the servant of the brothers. What makes this house unusual is that the statues represent figures of men caught by surprise or contorted by fear. What men would commission such effigies of themselves?

Statues of Palazzo Mastelli delle Cammello via Wikipedia

Why It’s Supernatural:

  • Legend says a wealthy middle eastern merchant moved to Venice without the woman he loved, who had refused to marry him. He had a camel carved into his home so she could find him if she changed her mind. 
  • Another local legend is that the statues are the petrified brothers and their servant who were cursed by a Venetian widow they plotted to scam. They tried selling her overpriced textiles, and when she discovered the ruse, she cursed the money she gave them. Apparently, when they touched the money, they turned to stone.
  • In 1757 there’s also a record of two playful ghosts who would ring all the bells in the house every day at the same time. People reported footstep sounds, windows opening and closing by themselves, shadows and broken mirrors. This caused neighborhood women to faint and the current inhabitants to abandon the home. 

Go There:

Campo dei Mori, Cannareggio, Venice, Italy

Published by Patricia Simpson

Patricia Simpson is an award-winning author of paranormal and fantasy fiction.

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