With Halloween coming up, the scariest holiday of the year, what better time could there to take a tour of the many haunted places there are in Tuscany? There are more than a few areas that play host to some of the freakiest ghosts in Europe, and they come along with twisted, scary stories that are sure to make Halloween weekend come to life.
First up on the tour, we have the Devil’s Bridge located over the Serchio River in Borgo In Mozzano. According to the old stories, the man who was building the bridge was having trouble, and couldn’t finish on his own. So, he asked the Devil for help.
The Devil responded, and agreed to help the man. The Devil said he would finish the bridge in just one night, but in exchange, the man had to promise the Devil the soul of the first living thing to cross over the bridge. The man agreed, but after the bridge was finished, the man grew scared and tried to find a way to trick the Devil.
In order to save a person, the man used food to lure a dog over the bridge, thus fulfilling his promise to the Devil using the dog’s soul. The Devil, furious with this trick, changed the dimensions of the cursed bridge, which is why it looks as eerie as it does today.
Next on the list is the knobbly, ominous oak tree prevalent in literature and other legends. The tree is monumental in Italy because of its sheer size. It is located on the hills between Monte Pisano and Collodi, in Gragnano in the middle of a forest.
The tree is truly a giant, needing about five whole people in order to embrace it. There are many legends surrounding this tree. One is that it was a meeting point for witches back in the day and that they would perform ancient rites and sacrifices over its roots.
The tree is also linked to Pinocchio, the popular wooden puppet made by a man named Carlo Collodi. The Tuscan author is said to have been inspired by this tree for the scene in the novel in which Pinocchio is hanged on the “big oak,” by the characters the Cat and the Fox.
The lake of Isola Santa in Garfagnana is another hidden gem that can’t be missed when taking a tour of all the haunted places in Tuscany. It is tucked away in the heart of the Apuane, a village of the same name that has been abandoned in time. The village is built on top of the ruins of an ancient hospital.
The whole area has had many instances of supernatural phenomenon, which could also be accredited to the erosion from the water creating eerie caves and whistling noises, as well as underground streams and the Giant’s Marbles, which are pot-sized holes dug by flooded rivers. The deserted village offers an otherworldly beauty and the forests surrounding it are spectral and uncanny. It is definitely worth a visit if you like to hunt for ghosts!
And last, but certainly not least, is the Fountain of the Fairy Morgana. The legends of the fairy Morgana and her fountain of youth are extremely widespread in literature and legend. It lies in Bagno a Ripoli above Grassina. The legend finds its origins in the tale of King Arthur, for whom Morgana was a healer and fighter.
The place where the source lies is known as Casina delle Fate, was built by a man called Bernardo Vecchietti in the 1500s as the summer residence for the family. It is also home to a rich collection of art.
According to rumor, however, the garden represents an eye-catching example of architecture that stands out for its pink brick plaster. It creates a magical, ethereal atmosphere that adds a feeling of truth to the stories that have been passed down through the generations.
Animals who passed by would stop and drink from the fountain in this magical garden, and legends tell of beautiful women, like nymphs and fairies, appearing and disappearing. The water is said to give youth to those who bathe in it.
A Halloween itinerary is in itself an unexpected apparition in the region of Tuscany, but the places that can be found here that fit the ominous spirit of Halloween are as numerous as they are scary. (Isabella Azzaro)