The images most likely brought to mind when Italy is mentioned are those of the green Tuscan hills, of colorful seaside villages, of the impressive architecture of Venice, Florence, and Rome, and most of the time these images are enveloped in the warm light of the Mediterranean sun. However, in this wonderful country there is no shortage of spooky locations, ghost villages, and chilling legends.

Poveglia Island (Venice) – One of the most terrifying places in Italy is a little-known island of the marvelous Venice. This place has seen an incredible amount of suffering and legends say that it is still haunted by the 160.000 souls of the people who died there when it was used a bubonic plague quarantine station. About 50% of the island soil is thought to be made of human remains and it is still possible to see parts of human skeletons in the open air, but only from a boat, as it is off-limits for visitors.

Bomarzo Monsters Park (Viterbo) – One of the most mysterious and mystical places in central Italy is the garden commissioned by Renaissance prince Vinicio Orsini. From a wild ground with shapeless rocks of peperino stone, he created a magical and enchanting place, an enigmatic Mannerist gallery of bizarre, at times monstrous, spectacular, and disturbing sculptures and lopsided architecture just outside the little medieval town of Bomarzo. As the art historian John-Paul Stonard says: “Constructed rather with images and ideas, the garden and its statues can be read by the enlightened visitor like a book, providing a philosophical journey through themes such as love, death, memory, and truth. Vicino’s garden-book is, however, obscure and ambiguous.”

Maniero del Rotta (Turin) – This privately owned and abandoned castle it is said to host a lot of creepy ‘action’. Plenty of sightings have been noticed there, especially one of a monk dressed in the style of the crusades. It is also supposed to be haunted by knights, ladies, rascals, and hangmen that lived there or passed by on their way to Moncalieri.

Capuchin Crypt (Rome) – This crypt in via Veneto in the heart of the Eternal City is decorated with the ancient skulls and skeletons of about 4,000 friars. The macabre display is meant to remind us of the fleeting nature of life on earth and, indeed, one of the inscriptions in the crypt reads “What you are we were, what we are you will be”.

(Ilona Catani Scarlett)

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