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Turin (Torino), Italy has a long and sinister reputation as one of the most haunted cities in the world. Here we discover the supernatural hot spots (or should that be cold spots?) from the Gates of Hell to modern serial killers.
Satan's City A-Z
By Dr Leo Ruickbie
Artillery Museum. Visitors have been startled by a gruff Dragoon standing by one of the cabinets in the Flags Room on the first floor.
Domus Morozzo. The home of the sixteenth century prophet Nostradamus on the Via Michele Lessona, the building is unfortunately no longer extant.
Gran Madre di Dio. The Holy Grail supposedly lies buried beneath this church, or according to another legend, a statue once standing before it pointed the way to where it was hidden. The statue has unfortunately been destroyed.
Hotel Inghilterra. Guests in room number nine on the first floor have frequently complained of a mysterious presence disturbing their sleep. The room has since been dedicated to Saint Desiderio for the protection of those who stay in it.
Hotel Nazionale. This building on the Piazza CNL is said to be haunted by the ghost Rosa Vercellana. Known as 'La Bela Rosin' ('The Pretty Rose'), she was the mistress and later wife of King Vittorio Emanuele II. The building was also used by the Gestapo during WWII. See also the Pantheon.
Madonna del Carmine. The spirit of a friar appears shortly after sunset before the main gates of this church.
Misericordia. The chiesa della Misericordia was once the church where prisoners condemned to death were given the last rites. An exhibition records the names of those sentenced to die, as well as the black hoods they wore, the small glass used for the final drink, the crucifix and beneath a marble slab their bones in an ossuary.
Monte dei Cappuccini. The spirit of Filippo San Martino di Aglie haunts this monastery on Turin Hill across the river from the centre of the city.
Museo Egizio (Egyptian Museum). When students visiting Turin's Egyptian Museum afterwards fell mysteriously ill an ancient Egyptian curse was thought to be the cause.
Palazzo Barolo, Via delle Orfane 2. Elena Matilde Provana di Druent died of a broken heart here in 1701 and haunted the house ever after.
Palazzo Levaldigi. Now a bank, this building's fine iron-work gate hints at a mysterious past. It is known as La Porta del Diavolo ('The Gate of the Devil') because of the demonic and otherworldy beings entwined on it. In the nineteenth century it was a Tarot card factory, but it was in the eighteenth century that it got its ghost. A young ballet dancer was stabbed by an unknown assassin during a three-day long party and stalks the empty corridors.
Palazzo Madama. Beneath this building lies the Grotte Alchemiche (Caves of Alchemy) where the alchemists of the House of Savoy supposedly laboured to discover the Philosopher’s Stone. In addition, the building claims to be haunted by four ghosts with at least one on the main staircase and others lurking in the dungeons.
Palazzo Paesana. A building on the Via della Consolata designed by Plantery at the beginning of the 18th Century on the commission
of Count Baldassarre Paesana of Saluzzo. During refurbishment in 1902 a builder discovered the body of a missing girl, five-year old Veronica Zucca. She had been sexually abused and murdered, her body exhibiting sixteen knife wounds. Another girl disappeared in 1903 and was also found in the cellar of the Palazzo, this time still alive. After a botched investigation, running since the first disappearance and involving the serial arrests of innocent men, the police eventually apprehended Giovanni Gioli. A mentally deranged refuse collector, Gioli confesses to the crimes, stating that 'a big shadow, a ghost' forced him to commit them. He was sentenced to an insane asylum for twenty-five years. Gioli takes his place amongst other more recent Turin serial killers like Peppino Pisanu (1972-1998), Calogero Consales (1980-1997) and Giancarlo Giudice (1984-1986). Still valued for its architecture, the Palazzo has since been used as a location for gamers enacting out Cthulhu Mythos based role-playing games.
Pantheon. The mausoleum of Rosa Vercellana located in the south of Turin became the centre of Satanic activity during the 1970s.
Piazzo Carlo Emanuele II. This square is haunted by the ghost of La Bela Caplera ('The Beautiful Hatter'), an adulteress who was executed by guillotine for the murder of her husband.
Piazza Statuto. The location of the legendary Gates of Hell. Called 'the black heart' of Turin, the Piazza is the site of the old gallows and now home to a stone monument to those who died building the Frejus tunnel between Italy and France. Dedicated in 1879 the stone is carved into the shape of men buried underneath the rock, faces twisted in agony. On top of all this suffering is an angel whom some believe to be none other than the fallen angel Lucifer. The entrance to Hell is a nearby drain cover.
Piazzetta Corpus Domini. In 1453 la chiesa di Exilles in Val di Susa was blasphemously robbed. When the thief later attempted to sell the stolen goods a glowing host rose up from his sack and hovered above him in the air. The crime had been revealed by a miracle. To commemorate the event a church was built on the spot, la chiesa del Corpus Domini.
Pietro Micca Tunnels. A sprawling network of tunnels beneath Turin named after Pietro Micca (1677-1706), an Italian soldier who died defending his city during the Siege of Turin in 1706 by detonating a mine in the tunnels. Today nine kilometres of the original fourteen kilometre network have been preserved and are open to the public.
Contact: Museo Civico Pietro Micca e dell’assedio di Torino del 1706, via Guicciardini 7a - 10121- Torino. Tel: +39 011 546 317
Lucedio Abbey (Principato di Lucedio). Supernatural visual and aural phenomena are said to manifest themselves in this monastery situated just outside Turin. Investigated by Ghost Hunters International (16 January 2008), team members all reported unusual occurences, including seeing mysterious moving shadows, experiencing physical sensations and hearing words spoken, strangely, in English.
The Judgment Room. Location of the 'crying column' - a pillar where prisoners were once tied that becomes mysteriously wet with tears because of all the suffering it has witnessed.
The Crypt. The story goes that an evil spirit was imprisoned underneath the church and to guard it the dead abbots were buried sitting upright in a circle. A process of natural mummification preserves their vigil.
The Bell Tower. Mist frequently and inexplicably swathes this part of the monastery.
Graveyard. Scene of wild dancing with the Devil, according to the legends.
Church and priest's house. Suddenly abandoned in 1993 these buildings are reported to be haunted by strange lights and sounds.
The abbey today offers a range of tourist and commercial events from guided tours, food tasting, receptions, conventions, fashion parades, concerts and exhibitions. Some of the abbey's halls have also been used as TV, film and advertising locations.
Moncalieri Castle. Nine kilometres south of Turin is the town of Moncalieri and its castle, a Savoy Residence and listed World Heritage Site dating from the thirteenth century (restored 1646).
The Royal Apartments. Haunted by the restless spirit of Bella Rosan, bride of the Prince of Savoy and devotee of black magic.
San Filippo Church. A mysterious entity has been spotted in the crypt.
San Giovanni Cathedral. Two apparitions have been sighted in the crypt.
San Pietro. The de-consecrated cemetery and church of San Pietro is said to be haunted by the ghost of the Russian Princess Barbara Beloselski. Dying at the young age of 28, her body was subsequently moved to San Pietro in 1830. Her phantom appears wearing a black veil and searches the graveyard for men, leading the curious to her graveside. The church is now used as storage for manuscripts, books and periodicals, but it too has been the scene of supernatural sightings, as well as the black mass.
Santa Maria di Piazza. The painting of the Madonna in this church is said to have been done by Saint Luke and nearby her veil has been buried in a secret place.
Venaria Royal Palace. On the northern outskirts of Turin this building is supposedly haunted by the ghost of King Vittorio Amedeo II, who has been seen by visitors riding his horse and waving a sword and candle.
Via Bonelli. Small street where Turin's executioner once lived.
Via Brava. House number six on this street was the scene of poltergeist activity in 1900. Today this is believed to have been house number nine.
Via Garibaldi. This area of Turin is believed to be the most haunted part of the city. The city's 'Court of Miracles' was once located here. The area was extensively rebuilt after WWII.
Contrada delle Maschere. Three skeletons were found here, believed to be murdered medieval travellers whose ghost have ever since wandered this former 'Mask District' near St Peter's church, frightening locals with dreams of three black coffins.
Fucina Hotel on the Via delle Maschere was believed to be the centre of poltergeist activity.
Piazza delle Erbe. Once the rope-maker's quarter, this area is haunted by the ghost of a suicide, a government clerk who hanged himself from the guttering of one of the buildings.
Rice Market Square is haunted by lo spettro della lavandaia ('the spectre of the washerwoman').
Via della Basilica. On the tenth of each month the spirit of a dead woman used to look out onto the street, throwing an unearthly light.
Via Cappel Verde. The ghost of a boy killed in an accident here haunts one of the buildings and moves furniture about.
Via delle Fragole. A poltergeist once moved furniture, shook the walls and made strange nocturnal noises in a house on this street on the corner of the Piazza Palazzo di Citta.
Via del Gallo. Haunted by an unspecified spirit.
Via Pasticerri (now part of Via XX Settembre). The so-called 'Candyman Road', it is haunted by the ghosts of a man and a woman who perished in the fire of 1861.
Villa della Tesorieria. Believed to be haunted by the ghost of an officer in Napoleon's Army who was murdered on this spot and his body buried.
Video footage from the Ghost Hunters International episode on the Lucedio Abbey investigation:
Associated Press, 'Spouting Satan: Black magic, white magic and Turin's history of bad juju', 18 February 2006, http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/wire?section=oly&id=2335396, accessed 01/04/08.
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