Secrets of Rome: Tales of ghosts and passions
Rome and its ghost stories
The Eternal City is famous for the many mystical legends that tell stories of love and betrayal. History permeates every street, every alley and even every stone in the city, and some historical figures have also become famous in popular folklore as supernatural figures. Among the stories of ghosts of Rome, that of Brutus is particularly distinguished. After participating in the assassination of Julius Caesar, Brutus quickly fled the city, but failed to escape too far. A few kilometers from the city, he had to face the army of Marco Antonio. It is said that in the same night a ghost appeared to him who looked like Caesar, who said to Brutus: "We meet again in Filippi". As we know, Brutus lost the battle and, tormented by remorse, killed himself by taking refuge in his camp. Even today, some people say that you can hear the voice of this character, as if it were carried by the wind, going to the Torre Argentina, where at the time of Julius Caesar there was the Curia of Pompeo.
The mystery of the voice in the park: the legend of Messalina
Emperor Claudius' wife had a weakness for debauchery, freedom and an unscrupulous lifestyle. This type of behavior was not pleasing to the emperor, who decided to get rid of the woman he considered too libertine. To do so, she hired an assassin who followed her to the Pincio Gardens, where she was brutally murdered. According to legends, even today, walking in the Pincio Gardens, near the Piazza del Popolo, you can hear the pleading voice of the spirit of the woman, forced to stay forever in the place of her death. She wonders what she’s looking for and maybe she’s waiting for her husband to get the revenge she’s so wanted.
The legendary ghost of Imperia in the Villa Celimontana
The Villa Celimontana is an ideal destination for those who want to immerse themselves in the legends that surround the Eternal City. Here you can discover the mysterious fate of Imperia, a famous courtesan immortalized by Raphael in the figure of the beautiful nymph Galatea. Her rare beauty attracted the attention of the banker Agostino Chigi, who became her lover. His end is not known precisely, but it is said that Augustine’s wife, discovered the betrayal, had hired a hit man to kill her. Since then, the ghost of Imperia wanders around the walls of the Villa Celimontana in search of his own bones, which were buried in a tomb in San Gregorio Magno and then disappeared. Today, no one knows the true location of the remains of the courtesan, but the legend of her ghost continues to fascinate visitors to the Villa.
Olimpia Maildachini: the ambitious woman who conquered the Pope
One of the most famous women in Rome of the past is Olimpia Maidalchini. Born into a modest family, her ambition led her to become one of the most influential figures in the city. Thanks to her beauty and cunning, it was said that anyone who wanted to talk to the Pope had to first go to her, and so she gained unlimited power, receiving gifts from artists, politicians and merchants. Nevertheless, the people of Rome did not love her because of her humble origins and her ambition. She was criticized and judged harshly, also because she was said to be the favorite lover of Pope Innocent X. With the death of the Pope, Olimpia lost everything she had conquered and, desperate, fled Rome with two chests full of gold coins. She was exiled and died shortly after of the plague. Since then she has become a legend and, according to popular tradition, her ghost appears every night on a full moon, driving a carriage pulled by infernal horses and carrying with it the gold she had stolen. It is said that it crosses the Ponte Sisto and disappears into the waters of the Tiber, where it is taken by the same devils to hell. The legend is so famous that until 1914 that portion of the Via Aurelia was called "via Tiradiavoli".
Beatrice Cenci and the mystery of her ghost
The most famous ghost of Rome is undoubtedly that of Beatrice Cenci: a young woman born in Rome and forced to live with a violent father sentenced for acts of sodomy on children, but freed thanks to her noble status. Tired of her father’s violence, Beatrice repeatedly denounced the incident, but did not get any justice. When Francesco Cenci discovered complaints, a real hell began for his daughter, who was confined to an isolated property where her family was forced to live in exile. Here, Beatrice became the mistress of a vassal and with her help killed her father during a visit. For this murder, Beatrice was found guilty and sentenced to death by beheading on 11 September 1599 on the Ponte Sant'Angelo. His body was buried in the cemetery of San Pietro in Montorio, but during the Napoleonic occupation the tomb was violated, feeding many legends. In fact, many people claim to have seen the ghost of Beatrice Cenci who still roams the places she loved, with the skull in her hand.
Lorenza Feliciani: the woman who denounced her magician husband
According to legend, this woman would have been the wife of the magician Cagliostro, but, unhappy with his adventurous lifestyle, she reported him to the Holy Office which then tried him. The woman herself was imprisoned in the convent of Sant'Oliva in Trastevere, where she died. It is said that her hooded figure appears near the square of Sant'Apollinare, in the alleys of Trastevere, in search of her husband.