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The dark side of Milan: ghosts, legends and all the spookiest places of the city

Art & Culture

The dark side of Milan: ghosts, legends and all the spookiest places of the city

Ghosts, legends, unusual places where sacred and profane collide. Here are the spookiest faces of Milan, where anything can happen... especially on Halloween!
Halloween-a-milano

Very often, behind folk tales and the bloodiest news reports, lie stories of great mystery. We are talking about the ancient myths and legends of some of the most famous and yet unusual places of Milan, which so often involve monsters and ghosts and that still give us goosebumps today.

Waiting for next Halloween, here are the spookiest faces of Milan and the legends that revolve around the most famous of the Milanese ghosts.

The spookiest faces of Milan between sacred and profane

During the excavations for the new M4 underground, in front of the Basilica of San Vittore al Corpo, several ancient burials were found. In particular, a necropolis with two hundred and fifty skeletons and the remains of a horse. The skeletons and bones help to tell the story of Milan, even when it comes to knowing its creepiest faces!

In Piazzale Aquileia, for example, there is now a small chapel decorated with skulls and the lugubrious inscription "What you will be we are now, whoever forgets us forgets himself".

The Cappelletta del Fopponino rises on the ancient mass grave of plague victims and those who have been sentenced to death. Legends say that in that same spot the spirit of a heretic thief who desecrated over thirty churches used to wander in search of his own grave.

Another legend linked to religion is the one about Saint Peter Martyr, which we find represented in the famous fresco of the Portinari Chapel at the Basilica of Sant'Eustorgio. Rumor has it that the saint was able to exorcise the devil who had even taken the appearance of the Virgin Mary, the famous "Madonna with the Horns" of the fresco.

One of the most fascinating religious places in Milan is certainly the Monumental Cemetery, a "city of the dead" to be discovered, where numerous stories of mystery hover between the sacred and the profane.

Statue cimitero monumentale
Detail of one of the statues of the Monumental Cemetery of Milan

The most mysterious places of Milan

Milan is full of mysterious places and legends that make you shudder at the very thought: among the places of mysterious Milan there is also La Scala, the famous opera theater where - according to popular rumors - the ghost of soprano Maria Callas wanders and has fun to frightening the Loggione public as revenge for having being booed during an opera.

It is then said that inspiring the novel Suspiria de profundis by the writer Thomas de Quincey and then the famous film Suspiria by Dario Argento were the presences that infested Palazzo Imbonati.

Even Palazzo Marino has a particularly bleak history. The City Hall of Milan was commissioned by the Genoese banker Tommaso Marino, who ordered the construction of a building as beautiful as those of Venice to conquer his beloved Arabella - or rather the blessing of her father, a rich Venetian nobleman -, all by expropriating and razing the houses that once stood on the area. For this reason, the Milanese people, who detested the hateful Genoese, cast a curse on the Palazzo Marino building site: not only was Arabella found hanged, but Marino himself died covered in debts and the building remained unfinished.

An aura of mystery also surrounds the death of Giuseppe Mengoni, the architect of the very elegant Galleria Vittorio Emanuele. He fell from scaffolding under the eyes of his workers, but it was never clarified whether it was a suicide, a misfortune or a curse...

Ready for the real thrills? Via Bagnera is a small street in the center of Milan that really gives you goosebumps and is, without any doubt, one of the spookiest places in Milan. In fact, it was here that Antonio Boggia, the first serial killer in Milan's history, concealed the bodies of three victims in the cellar of his home. A fourth victim managed to escape denouncing Boggia, who was then interned and publicly hanged in 1862. If you walk down Via Bagnera and feel a breath of cold air... hurry up, it could be the ghost of Antonio Boggia!

The most famous ghosts of Milanese legends

In the city, there are many other legends about spirits and ghosts. The Duomo would thus be haunted by the ghost of Carlina, a young bride who came to visit the cathedral with her husband during their honeymoon. Carlina had become pregnant with a young stranger and, in prostrating herself to the Madonnina to ask for forgiveness, she fell right into the void. Carlina's body was never found and her ghost would still wander in torment, appearing to the spouses who have themselves photographed at the entrance to the Duomo.

Like any self-respecting fortress, the Sforza Castle would also be populated by numerous ghosts: these are the many ladies who lived there, including Isabella of Aragon and the witch Isabella of Lampugnano. Among the ghosts of the Sforza Castle, the most truculent story is that of Bianca Maria Gaspardone, accused of having killed one of her lovers to avenge the insults he received. The Countess of Challant was unmasked and sentenced to death and beheaded in front of the Sforza Castle; her head was exposed as a warning and according to the Milanese legends from time to time the ghost of Bianca Maria would sip the blood of the lover killed by an amphora and then literally lose her head.

If then suddenly you feel the smell of violet in the vicinity of Parco Sempione, beware! You may be about to be kidnapped by the beautiful Veiled Lady. This is the ghost of a woman dressed in black who surrounds men making them fall madly in love and then lift the veil and reveal a skull instead of a face. When men have lost their minds, they are condemned to seek the Veiled Lady at Parco Sempione for the rest of their days.

The witches of Piazza Vetra, a place of stakes and Inquisition

Until the end of the nineteenth century, Piazza Vetra was the place where executions were carried out for those who had been convicted of the most serious crimes and were accessed through the premonitory Ponte Della Morte. Among these crimes there was witchcraft, the sin of those who made a pact with the Devil, pursued with the so-called witch hunt.

Piazza Vetra was, therefore, the place of stakes and Inquisitions where not only were the witches burned, but also those who were accused of spreading the plague. The last witch bite in Milan was recorded in 1641 and, at the end of the eighteenth century, all the documents relating to the Inquisition of Milan were burned, witnesses of a particularly dark period in the city's history.

Beware therefore of the ghosts of the witches, who would still wander tormented around Piazza Vetra.

Halloween in Milan

In the nineteenth century, it was believed that during the night of the dead Milan was infested by the souls of the damned and therefore it would have been more prudent to stay at home, or at least go out with a blessed candle; according to tradition, the ghost of Lucrezia Borgia would appear on the night of October 31 at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana.

Even San Bernardino alle Ossa has its own legend linked to the night of the living dead. It is thought that, in the church known for the decorations made with bones and skeletons of people condemned to death and plague victims, on the night of October 31 the ghost of a little girl entertains a macabre dance with the other spirits of the Chapel.

But besides the rumors between the sacred and the profane, what are the late trends in Milan at Halloween?

Virtually, every entertainment venue offers a Halloween-themed evening with witches and vampires costumes. Crime dinners are increasingly popular, events staged for the occasion by numerous clubs and restaurants, where you can become a detective for one evening and solve a mysterious crime.

Do you still have goosebumps? To ease the tension and talk about completely different kinds of chills, well, be aware that from September until December 2019 it will be possible to get on the skyscraper of the Palazzo della Regione free of charge to enjoy a breathtaking view of the city. At least until the ghosts appear!

San bernardino delle Ossa
The skulls of San Bernardino alle Ossa

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