GHOSTS AND BEYOND
Scary Monsters: Horror films, festivals and eerie destinations
Whether it’s the release of dopamine and endorphins or something else, people like to be scared. The rising popularity of escape rooms and horror films receiving mainstream recognition indicates people enjoy fear in controlled dosages. Birthplace to famous horror directors like Dario Argento and Mario Bava, Italy has a dark underbelly with destinations and events for the fearful and fearless alike.
Italy has traditionally celebrated La Festa di Ognissanti All Saints Day November 1 and Il Giorno dei Morti The Day of the Dead November 2. But Halloween has been a more recent addition and Italy has embraced it. The medieval town of Corninaldo hosts The Witches Festival La Festa delle Streghe each year in which the whole town has transforms into a magical Halloween fairytale. There are games for children, street performances, craft market and the election of Miss Strega (Miss Witch). But a much darker destination lies in Triora, infamous for the 16th-century witch trials during the Inquisition. The fate of the Triora Witches is documented at their museum, but the Halloween celebration lasts all day and into the night. The most famous festival is held at Borgo a Mozzano near Ponte del Diavolo, aka the Devil’s Bridge. Many cities offer a number of ghost themed walks and tours, including Monster Festival in Genova. Festivals start shortly before Halloween and roll into the holidays until November 3.
For those with a taste for the macabre, a number of tombs, catacombs and museums attract visitors any time of the year. In Rome, Crypt of the Capuchin Monks houses arrangements of the bones of over 4000 monks. While the Vatican necropolis holds the tombs of dozens of popes, the catacombs outside Rome are a vast network of tombs holding thousands of Romans. For those that are not squeamish, a visit to Palermo’s Capuchin Monastery may be in order. The preservation of the bodies housed there has yielded a large collection of mummified remains, often with clothing still intact. In Urbania, the Church of the Dead, Chiesa dei Morti, houses the Mummies Cemetery, where guides can tell you the life and circumstances of death for those who reside there. But perhaps the most gruesome display can be found in the Museum of Torture, with permanent exhibits in San Gimignano, Sienna, Volterra, Lucca and Montepulciano.
For those who would rather keep their fears firmly in fantasy, a number of film festivals take place. ToHorror Film Festival in Torino takes place October 15-19 and boasts entries from around the world. A series of premieres lead up to the Ravenna Nightmare Film Festival occurs October 30 to November 3. The Trieste Science Fiction Festival runs October 29 through November 3. If ghostly tours, ghastly sites or scary festivals tickle the ‘scary’ bone, give Cultural Italy a ‘scream’.
Jennie Olson Six
Cultural Italy Staff Writer