venice italy

How to Visit the Dark Side of Venice?

There’s only 1 curse on Venice, and that’s its unique beauty! The water and canals that make the city so special have also plagued it with flooding, erosion and humidity. Fortunately that’s very unlikely to ruin your short break in Venice just yet, but the city’s darker side might leave you feeling a bit shaken. It’s a city with a long history behind it and, inevitably, that history contains a few skeletons and secrets. Here are 5 places that should be on any Venice horror hit list!!

Related: More posts on Italy

Palazzo Dario

Perhaps the most famous haunted house in the world, the Dario Palace has been dubbed ‘the house that kills’, as nearly all those who have owned, lived or been associated with the building have come to a sticky end, be it through murders, suicides, accidents or bankruptcy. It all started with the daughter of Giovanni Dario, the local official who built the palace on the Grand Canal in the 15 th Century. She committed suicide and since then there have been over 10 dramatic deaths associated with the palace, most recently in 2002. The curse even put Woody Allen off buying the place! Location: Campiello Barbaro, 352, Venice, Italy

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Poveglia Island

160,000 ghosts haunt the dumping ground of Venice. The small island of Poveglia in the Venetian lagoon has faced the brunt of local evils. Originally used as a port in the centuries after the Roman Empire, it became the dumping ground for Venetians riddled with plague, dead or alive. In 1922 it was turned into an asylum to hide the mentally ill away from the city. It’s alleged that one of the asylum’s doctors would torture and experiment on victims in the bell tower. He met his death by falling from that very tower, and as the story goes, it was the ghosts of his victims who did it. Locals say that over 160,000 deaths have occurred on ‘the island of no return’.

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Casino degli Spiriti

Another grand palace that has fallen prey to local legends in the Casino degli Spiriti or ‘House of Souls’. The elegant building looks very alone and many locals have different stories to explain why the house is cursed. The most famous is the ghost of Luzzo, a painter who killed himself over his love for Cecilia, Giorgione’s lover. More recently in the 1950s, a young woman was killed there, cut up and thrown into the lagoon. Yet it’s perfect if your’re looking for a good spot to fish as Venetian fishermen don’t dare drop their lines anywhere in the surrounding lagoon. Location: Fondamenta Gasparo Contarini, 3541, Venice, Italy

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Palazzo Mastelli

Watch out for those elderly Venetian ladies during your trip, they might just put a curse on you if you anger them! That’s what happened to 3 rich merchants named Rioba, Afani and Sandi in around 1100 AD when they attempted to flog poor quality fabric to a local elderly lady. Once she’d spotted their trick, she cursed the money she handed to them and the 3 men turned to stone. They’re still standing there today! Location: Campo dei Mori, 3381, Venice, Italy


The San Marco and San Todaro columns

Smile! Don’t forget to take of photo at such a beautiful, err, cursed spot! They may well be symbols of Venice sitting at the entrance of the landmark San Marco Square, but the 2 columns don’t have such a happy past. Even before they were erected, the columns had had a haunted start, as when they were transported to Venice from Constantinople the ship carrying them tipped over and a third column sank into the sea, where it remains. The space between the remaining 2 was later used as the main execution site for many hundreds of thieves, enemies of the Republic and murderers. Spare them a thought when you’re posing for your photo! Location: Piazza San Marco, Venice, Italy

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