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Myths and legends of Naples: ghosts, mysteries and superstitions

Legends about the city of Naples

Legends, myths and stories about ghosts, spirits and witches in the city of Naples.

The myth and the legend have always covered Naples and the history of the city is rich in secrets, ghost stories, benevolent spirits or evil ghosts that even today are part of citizens' beliefs. The history of the foundation of the city has its roots in one of the most famous legends, that of the Sirena Partenope, so much so that one of the adjectives to identify the citizens is still Neapolitan.

Between Munaciello, Bella 'Mbriana, the magic egg of Castel dell'Ovo, the ghosts in the palaces and in the fortresses and the witches, there are many stories that are handed down from many generations and that make Naples a city full of mystery.

Legends of Partenope

They are two the most famous legends on the figure of Partenope, considered the founder of Naples. The first derives from the Odyssey of Homer, in which it is said that Ulysses was the only one not to suffer the effects of the melodious singing of the three sirens, causing them to commit suicide. The body of one of the three, Partenope, was dragged to theislet of Megaride, where today stands the Castel dell'Ovo, and then dissolve, and according to the myth was transformed into the current landscape of the city.
The second version tells that Partenope was a Greek girl in love with Cimone whose love was opposed by his father. The two decided to flee, arriving on the Neapolitan coasts, and here the woman began to be hailed by the citizens because on its way the earth became more and more fertile.

La Bella 'Mbriana

La Bella 'Mbriana is one benevolent spirit who lives in the houses of the Neapolitans bringing their fortune and lives with the Munaciello, of which he is antagonist. Its appearance is not known precisely because it appears in passing during the brightest hours or in the early afternoon and when it is sighted magically turns into a gecko, animal considered lucky. According to legend, Bella 'Mbriana was a beautiful princess who lost her love and, alone and desperate, began to wander the city. The king his father asked his subjects to open the doors of their houses to welcome her. That's why the spirit is considered protect the house.

'O Munaciello

The Munaciello is one spiteful spirit who lives in houses, can bring both luck and misfortune and wears a monk's habit that hides his ugly features. According Matilde Serao was a really existent character, that is the deformed son of Caterina Frezza, a rich woman who fell in love with a boy against the will of his father and for this reason had a son looking horrible. According to legend, however, was a manager of water wells that he entered the houses from the drainage channels to steal precious objects. The people attribute it Magic powers and blames him for the unpleasant incidents, but he also considers it benevolent because often leave coins in hidden places of the house.

The legend of Castel dell'Ovo

The Castel dell'Ovo on the waterfront of Naples owes its name to an ancient legend that involves Virgilio. The Latin poet, also considered a magician in the Middle Ages, would have hidden one magic egg in the dungeons of the castle to make sure that it never collapsed. In fact, its eventual break would provoke it destruction of the fortress and of the whole city. The egg has never been found, but it is said to be in a container of water in an iron cage hanging from an oak beam in an underground room. In the sixteenth century a collapse of the arch made the panic spread among the inhabitants and Queen Joan I was forced to swear to have replaced the egg.

Ghosts of Castel Sant'Elmo

According to an ancient legend, in Castel Sant'Elmo al Vomero vague a ghost dressed in white who likes to scare anyone approaching. He is in fact very playful and he also likes to leave the walls to bring a bit of terror. The castle is linked to another legend related to the shouts that some say they hear from the dungeons. In fact, at the end of the first ramp of the Pedamentina scale there is a gate from which the royal guards killed their enemies and threw their bodies into the dungeons to make them eat from rats or even from the inhabitants of the city. The screams would be the complaints of these victims.

Myth of Posillipo and Nisida

According to an ancient myth, Posillipo was a graceful and joking young man, with a very sensitive heart, who fell in love with a woman beautiful named Nisida. The girl, though very charming, had a cold soul and a heart of stone, she was an enchantress, but an evil girl. The boy, suffering from the love he could not have, did not resist the pain and decided to commit suicide at sea. The Gods decided to transform it into the current island, while Posillipo was transformed into the hill in front of it. For them, Nisida hosts "murders and thieves" (today there is a juvenile prison), while the Posillipo hill attracts everyone with its beauty.

Crocodile with the Maschio Angioino

A legend, narrated by both Croce and Dumas, tells of the presence of a ravenous crocodile in one of the pits of the Maschio Angioino. Used to lock up prisoners to be punished more rigidly, it became a mysterious place because they disappeared for no apparent reason until the presence of the animal was discovered. It is said that he came to Naples from Egypt with Queen Joanna II who was exploiting him for give it to the lovers that he wanted to eliminate. Since then, it was used to make the most uncomfortable people disappear in the kingdom, but it was Ferrante d'Aragona who had him killed by suffocating him with a horse's thigh.

Legend on the Palazzo della Gaiola

La Villa on the islet of Gaiola it is considered a place of bad luckIn fact, in the past decades several misfortunes have occurred to its owners, even death. Among the best known, Gianni Agnelli who suffered the death of many family members, and Paul Getty whose nephew was kidnapped by 'Ndragnheta. At the base there would be a story about the first buyers, an English woman and her noble husband who fell in love with her sister-in-law. The wife, feeling betrayed, began to fiercely accuse her sister, wounding her to such an extent that the young woman took her own life. The man for the pain shot himself, while his wife went crazy and for this reason the Villa would be surrounded by misfortune (bad luck).

Spirits of Palazzo Donn'Anna

The Palazzo di Posillipo takes its name from Donna Anna Carafa, nephew of Luigi Carafa di Stigliano, who bought the structure in the 1571. It is said that during one of the magnificent receptions Donna Anna loved to give to Palazzo, she surprised her lover Gaetano di Casapesenne to kiss the young Donna Mercedes de las Torres. In the following days, Donna Mercedes disappeared and it was assumed that Donna Anna had poisoned her soul, leaving poor Gaetano desperate to his vain search. Since then, according to the legend, the three spirits roam in the Palace and they will do it forever.

The Witch of Vesuvius

The story on the presence of a witch on Vesuvius is told by the 1858, when there was one strong eruption of the volcano which caused the leak of a huge amount of magma. From that moment on, one began to hear one night screaming chilling that made the locals believe that someone was suffering terribly. After countless and useless patrols, the citizens decided to turn to a local witch to reveal the mystery. "'A vecchia' e Mattavona", this is his name, he managed to silence the shouts by uttering incomprehensible magic words.

La Janara

Janara would be one evil witch whose legend was born in Benevento, soon spreading to Naples. It is considered the daughter of Satan, for this reason God would have made her sterile and she, frustrated and envious, goes around the houses of the city in search of children. He knows the occult and can do rites of black magic, evil eye and bills. According to the myth it can be seen at night and if you are good at capturing it by grasping it by your hair, you can neutralize it. This provided that you answer correctly to your question "What do you hold in your hand?", Saying "Iron and steel" and not "hair". If you capture it when it has not taken on a body shape, you receive protection for 7 generations.