Standing between the Castel Sant Angelo and the bridge of angels a shiver ran down my spine – we were stood on the very spot over 500 people had been executed by Giovanni Battista between 1796 to 1864. He started his career at the tender age of 17. Giovanni documented in his note book exactly how he murdered these criminals and why – you can buy this book on Amazon! The criminals heads would have then been displaced on the ledges along the bridge.
One such unlucky lady to have been executed was Giulia Tofana, a chemist and beautician by trade. Her shop in Rome sold cures for all manner of ailments including annoying husbands! She made a concoction called Aqua Tofana, a clear, odourless and tasteless liquid containing cyanide. Two drops in your husbands wine was guaranteed to kill him in two weeks. This was used by a number of woman to get rid of their husbands and inherit their money. Divorce at the time was not permitted. Tofana was extremely successful with her business. That is until she got caught. One young 16 year old lady confessed to her 50 year old husband that she had bought Tofana’s poison as their marriage was a disaster and she didn’t know what to do. He reported Tofana to the authorities who went on a search for Tofana. She was eventually found hiding in a church and was executed along with her daughter and any women who were thought to have killed their husbands. In her time Tofana assisted the death of over 600 husbands. This is where the phrase an Italian divorce comes from!
In Campo de Fiori, there are lots of bars and restaurants, it is a popular hangout location. Also situated in this square, is a statue of the scientist Giordano Bruno. He was exiled due to his controversial findings, that the world was not flat. He was told to leave the country and return when he understood that he was wrong and the church right. 8 years later he returned. However, he came back with an even more controversial outlook – there were planets all with their own suns. He was immediately executed (1600) as this was against the religious teachings in Catholicism.
Through out Rome, you can see references of the Madonna on most streets. It is often unknown exactly when these murals, paintings or statues of the Madonna were created but it is clear that they have been there for hundreds if not thousands of years ago.
These were just a few of the wonderful stories we heard on the evening haunted Rome ghost tour. I would highly recommend going, Kat our guide was terrific and brought the stories to life!
After our tour we wondered to the colosseum to see it lit up at night. It was spectacular. From here we strolled back to our hotel Via di Ripetta, 226.