When talking about Italy, most people would think of its grandest palaces, ornate cathedrals, or majestic monuments. But for every iconic structure that the country has, there’s probably one place or artifact that will fall under the “creepy” category for the average person. There are many scary tourist attractions in Italy!
Hence, for Halloween, we’ll be showing you rather grim stops in Italy—some of which are just a few steps away from the country’s top tourist attractions.
First up is the Museo della Tortura (Museum of Torture) in San Gimignano, a quaint medieval town that’s more known for its tower houses, gelato, and wild boar paninis. This museum has over a hundred pieces of medieval torture equipment in its collection; it even has a wall of skulls to welcome you.
Something similar can be also found in Rome, in the form of The Criminology Museum. Other than featuring items used to torture and execute criminals in the 19th century, it also has several articles from notorious 20th century criminals on display.
For something less intense and more educational, venture to Bologna’s Museo Civico Archeologico (Archeological Civic Museum). Located near Piazza Maggiore, this museum houses one of Europe’s finest collections of Egyptian artifacts—meaning a real-life mummy is on display. Its upper floor also has an extensive exhibit on Etruscan burials, including many burial jars and some of the remains on display.
Relics and Remains
Speaking of human remains, you’ll surely encounter some of them during your trip to Italy. After all, many of the historical churches that you’ll be visiting do house relics, or a body part, of a Catholic saint. While these are venerated by many Catholics, these relics can come across as creepy to the casual observer.
For example, there’s the tongue and jawbone of St. Anthony of Padua, which is on display at the Basilica named after him. Then there’s the head of St. Catherine of Siena, enshrined at the Basilica San Domenico (St. Dominic’s Basilica) in Siena. Finally, there’s the full mummified body of St. Antoninus, housed in the Church of San Marco in Florence.
Need something more on the secular side? There’s the casts of Pompeii. These casts, made from plaster of Paris, are of the remains of those killed during Mount Vesuvius’ eruption in 79 AD. They were made by pouring wet plaster into the voids left by the bodies as they decomposed into the volcanic ash that buried the town.
All this talk about burials will certainly bring up the topic of cemeteries. And it just so happens that one of them is near one of Italy’s most popular tourist attractions.
One example is the Camposanto Monumentale in Pisa, which is located a few meters away from the Leaning Tower. Originally built for the deceased members of the Medici family, faculty of the University, and other prestigious persons in Pisa, the Camposanto is also home to some interesting artifacts. These include sarcophagi from Roman times and several relics of saints, housed in its chapel.
Less majestic but all the more interesting is the Cimitero delle Fontanelle, located in a cave on the outskirts of Naples. Housing the remains of Neapolitans who died of the Plague in the 17th century, it also served as a bomb shelter in World War II. The cemetery also shows a (now banned) practice by some Neapolitans—the veneration of some skulls, with offerings being made, in the belief that this will bring good luck.
Spooked out already? We hope not, as these places we’ve mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg. There are more interesting sites and artifacts around Italy that’s just waiting for you.