Casa Delle Anime, the House Of Souls

Posted on: January 13, 2017

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Situated in the Liguria area of north-west Italy, in the hamlet of Voltri, is a rather forbidding-looking roadside house, which comes with a dark history which wouldn’t be out of place in an Edgar Allan Poe story.   In the Middle Ages the mountain road was used by pilgrims, soldiers and merchants, and Casa Delle Anime was a convenient stopping-point, being one of the few houses in the area offering refuge for the tired and hungry traveller.  Hospitality came at quite a price though.

The story goes that wealthy travellers would be encouraged to leave their belongings in a secluded room, reached only by a secret passageway.  During the night the movable ceiling of their room would come down, and suffocate the poor hapless traveller to death.  Their body would then be interred in a mass grave at the back of the property.  The story is similar to that of the Ostrich Inn*, in Colnbrook, Berkshire, here in England.   In the 17th century a murderous landlord called Jarman would tip wealthy customers from a hinged bed through a trapdoor into a vat of boiling liquid below, Sweeney Todd-style.

Anyway, the murderous family at Casa Delle Anime were eventually caught and executed.  From then on the house was shunned, being thought to be cursed and haunted.   It only became inhabited again at the end of World War 2.  The area was heavily bombed by the Germans in 1944, and a family, made homeless by the bombing and desperate for accommodation, took up refuge in the sinister dwelling-place.   They spoke of doors opening and closing by themselves, of dishes moving of their own accord, and terrible noises coming from the garden.

Things came to a head when they were visited one evening by a young girl in a white dress.  She seemed to be looking for her missing boyfriend.  She slowly vanished, leaving behind only an aroma of roses.  This was the last straw for the family, and they moved out.

Since then there have been plans to renovate the building.  In the 1950s a body was apparently found buried in the garden, enclosed in a jute sack.  The house has also become a favourite haunt (sorry about that) of ghost-hunters, and one visitor in recent years spoke of seeing a strange white shape crossing the road in front of him nearby.

*The Ostrich Inn is very much still going.  When I last visited it a few years ago, they had a miniature model of Jarman’s lethal bed in the bar.



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