4 haunted places in Rome, by Sara Lilliu

Ahhh Rome! La Città Eterna, the magnificent city with its romantic atmosphere and historical background. You’d never get tired visiting its ancient places, monuments and museums. But if you do, I think this blog post might do the trick.

What about taking part in a new mysterious adventure? The otherworldly and goose bumping kind of experience I read about on Itinerari Spettrali. This bloodcurdling itinerary of Rome will lead you to discover its darkest side. Although I like to think of myself as a brave person, when it comes to ghosts that’s just not true at all. May be a primordial fear of the unknown?! At the same time, I claim to be a fan of the macabre, so I just couldn’t not try out few stops of this tour. These are my top 4 creepy places in Rome, borrowing from the itinerary published on Itinerari Spettrali.

1.  Viale del Muro Torto

Viale del Muro Torto might as well be called The creepiest road you’ll ever see, so spooky that you’ll be grateful for the light of passing cars. It is a winding road well-known for being dangerous at night. The eerie atmosphere is exacerbated by the angle of the road which makes the wall look like it’s falling inward, as a reminder that this place is also called the Cemetery of the Hopeless. In ancient times it was a grave for the unbelievers who couldn’t be buried in the holy city. Among others are the graves of Targhini and Montanari, once members of the Secret Society of Carbonari and decapitated in 1825. Legend has it that they still haunt the street carrying their heads in their hands.

2. Piazza Navona

Piazza Navona might seem like a mandatory choice among tourists but the story about its ghosts is very unexpected. Two women, one exactly the opposite of the other, brought together by death. The first is Costanza de Cupi, a noblewoman admired for the beauty and slenderness of her hands. When she got sick and had her hands amputated, she died of sorrow. At night in her palace, you can still hear her footsteps echoing through the hallways when she wanders in search of her lost hands.

The other one is Olimpia Maidalchini, better known as Pimpaccia, who earned this nickname because of her despotic manner. She was an ambitious woman who climbed her way through the high society of the seventeenth century. Despite her influence, she was hated by the people for her entire life. (Yep… she sounds like a Roman Cersei Lannister from Game of Thrones)

3. Portico d’Ottavia

The Jewish Ghetto is one of my favourite places in the whole city (and Kosher food plays a big part in this preference). The religiousness and vitality of the place in the daytime makes it hard to believe something remotely sinister ever occurred there. Berenice is the protagonist of two different legends. The first sees her as emperor Tito’s lover: their scandalous relationship was the reason she was exiled. The other story sees her as a heroine. When the Emperor asked for a sacrificial lamb among the Jews, she volunteered in order to save her own people. (an ancient Katniss straight out of the Hunger Games books)

4. Castel Sant’Angelo

This last stop is not a surprise: its mysteriousness mixed with the religious aura makes it impossible for anyone not to have goose bumps. The most macabre story happened here. Francesco Cenci was brutally murdered by his daughter Beatrice, sick of being abused by her own father. Beatrice was found guilty and was decapitated on 11 September 1599 in Castel Sant’Angelo. On the anniversary of her death, many have sworn that they saw her ghost wandering around Castel Sant’Angelo, carrying her head in her hands.

These are only few of the ghosts that crawl around Rome’s darkest corners. If you haven’t run for the hills yet, then go and adventure alone or with a friend, as I did. Otherwise, book a tour (there are several, provided by various tour operators. Here an example) for this terrifying, never-before-seen itinerary of Rome.

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