The darkest, most obscure of nights is coming, and it will be celebrated in many parts of the world. Celebrating October 31 has become a custom in Italy, too: some people organise something special, they get together to watch a scary movie, while the little ones roam around town, treat or treating. We at The Blonde Salad decided to come up with an unusual, mysterious tour of the darkest places of Milan: a very peculiar itinerary through historical, cramped, creepy and haunted places, that will make even the bravest of you cower in fear. Here are the 5 locations we picked for your scary weekend!
La Chiesa di San Bernardino alle Ossa (Piazza Santo Stefano)
The name of this church says it all, if you speak Italian: it involves bones. Located right in the city center, close to the Duomo cathedral, it will look like just another church at first, but its mystery lies inside a secret room. The church has a crypt whose walls are covered in human skulls, placed there in the 17th century, after a leprosy epidemic. Visiting this room is a unique and most sensational experience. And that’s not all! Legend has it that on the night of November 2, a little girl’s skull gets mysteriously infused with life, encouraging its “cryptmates” to do the same. Go ahead, if you have the guts!
(Flickr Michela Di Mario)
If you are used to walking around Milan city center and total confidence and harmony, you will change your mind after you read this. This narrow, little alley, very close to central via Torino, is where the first, bloody serial killer murders in Europe took place, courtesy of Antonio Boggia. This street, too narrow for cars to pass through, is famous for being Boggia’s favoured place to kill his victims. Try going there, and let us know how it feels to walk in the same place where Italy’s equivalent of Jack The Ripper did his thing — more than 30 years earlier than Jack The Ripper did his!
(Pic: Mattia Luigi Nappi)
Basilica di Sant’ Eustorgio
We personally think it’s one of Milan’s most beautiful cathedrals, with its beautiful, popular garden, beloved by many in summertime. This church has an immense cultural value for the city, as it was built over the — still visible — remains of a very old, early Christian church. According to legend, a part of the remains of one of the Three Kings is also housed here. Doesn’t sound scary at all, right? That’s because you haven’t seen one of the most mysterious, scary frescoes ever, on the church’s walls: the painting is called The Miracle of the False Madonna, and it portrays the Virgin Mary and her child, whose head is adorned by a pair of horns: a hair-rising mystery that art historians haven’t managed to solve yet.
Basilica di S. Ambrogio
Those who live in Milan know how important this church is for the city, as it is named after the city’s patron saint: Saint Ambrose was brave and very firm in his beliefs, to the point that he risked his life for his faith. Outside the church, you will see a column with two strange holes at the base: that is where the church’s dark secret is lurking. Two different legends tell us the story of this column, and both of those are related to the devil. The first story goes like this: the devil, irritated by Saint Ambrose’s good deeds, often tempted him to give up on his bishop role. When the devil ambushed the saint, a violent argument ensued, which the saint managed to win, violently pushing the devil against the column, where the devil slammed his horns into the column. According to the other version, the devil missed the saint’s body, when charging at Saint Ambrose to pierce his body with his horns, actually missed, and ended up piercing the column instead. In both cases — the devil’s involved! And that’s not all: according to some, sometimes you can smell sulfur near those holes in the pillar, another proof of a dangerous, alarming presence.
(Flickr Roberto Costanzo)
The most common tourist destination in town, beloved by the locals, and one of Europe’s most beautiful churches, hides a mystery that might change the way you see it. According to legend, the devil appeared in a dream when Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the nobleman who commissioned the Duomo’s construction, was sleeping. In the dream, the devil ordered him to build the cathedral as a temple for worshiping the devil, including images that portray Satan as an act of devotion. We don’t know whether the story is true, but the truth is, the devil is portrayed about a hundred times in the sculptures adorning the facade of the cathedral… Enjoy your search!
Cover via Flickr by Michela Di Mario