Rome Secrets: Ghosts & Legends

Rome Secrets: Ghosts & Legends

December 11, 2019 11 By William Hollis


Buongiorno a tutti. Brandon here from the Roman Guy, and welcome to our series; Secrets of Rome. [music] So probably the most famous ghost story we have is about a young lady called Beatrice Cenci. She was a young aristocrat from the middle of the 16th century. and she lived in this house right behind us here So this house actually faces on one side of the Jewish Ghetto and the other side right on the Lungotevere on the main part of the river. As the legend goes, her father, Francesco was known to be a really big hothead. He had a bad temper. He beat his kids. He beat his wife. He was known for hanging his head out of the window here and screaming, and yelling at everybody. He had been in jail a few times, but you have to understand he’s an aristocrat. He knew all the Papal authorities. He would not stay in jail for very long. He always came back home at the end of the day. Now, one day, he took it way too far. and at this time, Beatrice went down to the Papal authorities that Francesco knew very well and told on her father. This got back to Francesco. and as a punishment, he sent Beatrice, the brothers, and the mom out to the countryside, banished them there. One weekend, Francesco went out to visit his family in the countryside not knowing that they had plotted an entire revenge against him. When he went to bed that night, they poisoned him, and then stuck a nail through his throat. which seems bad enough to me but they made it even worse by actually putting him on the balcony and throwing him over, making it seem as if it was some kind of suicide. The next morning, the Papal authorities came, discovered the body, and went to investigate what happened. One of the maids in the house told on Beatrice. At that point, everyone went under torture. In the end, of course of the torture, they all admitted to their guilt. At that point, they were sent back to Rome to a prison that we’re going to check out now. Beatrice and her mother were brought to a prison on this street. Now the people of Rome knew why she had killed her father. They actually protested against her being guilty, but Pope Clement VIII was having none of it. On September 11th in 1599, Beatrice and her mother were joined with the other family members and brought to the Bridge of Angels where the scaffolding was set up for their execution. Beatrice together with her step mother and two brothers were brought to this bridge, the Bridge of Angels where Beatrice, her step mother, and her older brother were beheaded. The youngest brother was actually forced to watch the whole event take place. After that, Beatrice became a symbol of the resistance against the aristocracy of Rome. Legend has it that on the anniversary of her death, you can actually see her walking on this bridge with her head literally in her hands. Our next story is about Pimpaccia, the ghost on the flaming chariots. Let’s start from the beginning. Her name was Olimpia Maidalchini. She was a young girl, around 20 years old when she married her first husband. She was known to be very beautiful. No, not that one. This one. Well, as you can imagine, he didn’t last very long and she became a very rich widow. She was even more ambitious after this and married Pamphilio Pamphili, who happened to be the brother of the Cardinal who was about to become Pope Innocent X. You can imagine the power she would wield then. Unfortunately, since Pamphilio was also 30 years her senior, he died soon after. At this point, she found herself in the center of Roman society with the Pope. She actually became his right hand woman. What happened is that as time went on, she was a huge socialite but a lot of people didn’t really like her for her arrogant ways. The night before, as legend goes, that the Pope actually died, she went and took two big cases full of gold, stuffed it into the carriage and ran off to the city. Never returning to Piazza Navona again. In the 1600s, there was no free press. Everything was controlled by the Vatican. If people wanted the voice their displeasure about something, they would go to one of the so called talking statues. One of them is behind me here. This is Pasquino. Whenever people are not happy, they would come to this statue in the middle of the night when the officials weren’t close by. They would go and put on a poem or some satire to voice their displeasure. What’s ironic is that we’re actually right next to the palace where Donna Olimpia actually lived. Because the people of Rome didn’t like the fact that Rome was being ruled by a so called woman, they would put all kinds of things about her on this piece of statue. Donna Olimpia escaped from the city and then was exiled, so she never came back to the city again, eventually, dying from the plague, a little bit north of Rome. As the legend goes, right behind me on the Ponte Sisto, every once in a while at night time, you can see Donna Olimpia escaping from the city with two big chests of gold in her flaming carriage. Ponte Sisto is the perfect escape route because it goes from the city centre, across the bridge, outside the city. We can’t speak about executions without mentioning the main executioner of Rome in the 19th century. His name was Giovanni Bugatti, better known as Mastro Titta. In Roman dialect, they simply called him Er Boja de Roma, which basically means the executioner of Rome. Er Boja de Roma, Mastro Titta, lived in this apartment, right behind me here. and on a side job, when he wasn’t busy executing people, he used to sell painted umbrellas. Imagine how that works. You’re going to die. Bring it down, paint an umbrella. [laughs] Confirmed killed, 516. Due to his occupation, he was prohibited from going on the other side of the river. The main reason is that relatives would try and seek revenge. The only time this was allowed is when he actually had to execute someone, because all of the executions took place on the other side of the bridge. The bridge behind me is actually the area he would cross himself. When he was crossing, all the people around Rome would say, “Mastro Titta is crossing the bridge.” At this point, everyone knew that an execution was going to take place. Everybody wanted to go and see the execution as it was a main event at that time. Ok, I’m going to leave you with this gentleman right behind me. This is Giordano Bruno. It’s the last person tale of the day. Giordano Bruno was an Italian philosopher whose only real crime was that he believed that the earth went around the sun. Pretty simple what we all think today, but back in the day, 500 years ago, this was not what the church thought. In the end, he was condemned to the heretic and put to death. He was put to death actually in the square right behind me. This is Campo de’ Fiori. Today, it’s known as a big party place and a market in the daytime. 500 years ago, this was one of the main areas for executions. As a memory to him, right behind me, you can see an actual statue still standing for him today. All right, guys, as you can see, the sun is going down. I’m going to say goodbye to you here before the ghosts actually come out. I hope you enjoyed the video. If you like it, please give a thumb’s up. Also, if you have your own scary videos from your town, or scary stories, please let us know in the comments. Stay tuned for our next video about the Secrets of Rome. Ciao. [music]