Founded by the Romans in 59 BCE, it is no surprise that witches and ghosts have made their mark during Florence’s long history. Several years ago, Halloween was virtually unheard of- much less celebrated- in Italy. Fortunately, this is no longer the case.
WHAT TO SEE:
- Hotel / Pensione Burchianti: This 17th century building contains beautiful frescoes and gracious rooms. Although the late Mussolini himself has spent the night there, it is rumored that the owner does not. Why? Burchianti is said to be haunted. Guests have reported seeing a male ghost, but don’t worry, he’s apparently friendly. People have also reported feeling shifts of air (as if someone has entered the room), icy breath / vapor, and the feeling of the bed sinking as if someone was sitting on the bed- when there’s no one there, of course!
- Fort Belvedere: Across the river in the Oltrarno there is a medieval fortress that stands proudly atop a hill. This is the area where the city burned the damned: those accused of witchcraft and murder. It is said the restless spirits of these condemned people are still there, causing grief and mischief for the living. Supposedly, some of the winding, curvy roads vibrate at night with supernatural energy and people have reported not only hearing voices, but seeing ghost-like apparitions walk along the medieval walls.
- San Miniato al Monte Cemetery: No Halloween is complete without a visit to the local graveyard and Florence has an incredible one. This famous, frequently visited cemetery lies just outside the city center, behind the 11th century monastery dedicated to St. Minius. It is full of hauntingly beautiful statues, mausoleums so grand that any vampire would be proud to be entombed within their walls, and gravestones complete with eerie black and white photographs of the deceased. Famous Italians are buried there, too, like Carlo Collodi- the author of Pinocchio.
Florence Inferno: This is a spooky walking tour that takes place at night. You are encouraged to dress in costume (www.florenceinferno.com).
Tasso Hostel: In addition to hosting a fabulous open-mic night on the first Wednesday of each month, they throw a mean Halloween costume party. With a big indoor / outdoor space and cocktail bar, you will definitely want to dress up for this event (tassohostelflorence.com).
WHAT TO EAT:
- Tartufo (truffle):Aromatic, mouth-watering fungi that can be grated or sliced on meats, pasta, pizza- just about anything! Black or white, they are absolutely delicious.
- Cavolo Nero (kale):Used in making the famousribollita soup, which is hearty, healthy and tasty.
- Zucca (pumpkin):Used in ravioli (divine), soup, and even gelato.
- Castagna (chestnuts):Wonderful when roasted (they are sold on the streets), but also a unique flavor for gelato. Try castagnaccio, which is a torte made with chestnut flour.
And of course, wash it all down with wonderful red wine from the Chianti!
Have a safe, healthy, and happy Halloween- and if you have any ghostly encounters in the Renaissance city, please let us know on our Florence News Facebook page!