Is the Villa de Vecchi the Most Haunted House in Italy?

Rosemary Giles
Photo Credit: Fabrizio/ Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0
Photo Credit: Fabrizio/ Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Hidden away in the forests of Northern Italy lies a haunted building nicknamed the “House of Witches,” formally called the Villa de Vecchi. This once stunning home still holds much of its formerly elegant allure, despite decaying in abandonment for many years and with a horrifying history that’s caught the interest of many different explorers. Let’s discover Count Felix de Vecchi’s “Ghost Mansion.”

Count de Vecchi

The Count set out to build the Villa de Vecchi as a summer home for his family between 1854 and 1857, recruiting Alessandro Sidoli to work as his architect. Although Sidoli died before his design was completed, De Vecchi and his family were able to move into the mansion where they stayed through the warmest months of the year. The family lived in luxury on the vast forested property full of immaculate gardens.

Sepia photograph of the Villa de Vecchi when it was still intact, surrounded by trees.
Photograph of the Villa de Vecchi when it was still intact, c. 1920. (Photo Credit: Unknown Author/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain)
Distanced view of the Villa de Vecchi surrounded by trees.
View of the Villa de Vecchi from a distance, April 4, 2012. (Photo Credit: jeff kerwin / Flickr/ CC BY 2.0)

The interior of the Villa de Vecchi was equipped with all the modern technology that could be desired: a pressurized fountain, dumbwaiters, and even indoor heating. Aside from the impressive features, the house was also decorated to suit the status of a Count. There were friezes and frescoes covering the walls and ceilings, and the parlor used for entertainment had an elegant fireplace that would illuminate the impressive grand piano.

A storied past

Although they had many happy years in the villa, devastation struck the family in 1862 when de Vecchi returned home to find that his daughter had been taken and his wife had been murdered. This, of course, caused rumors to fly. Some said it was revenge against the Count for his role in the Unification of Italy, while others said that the daughter had committed the murder. Despite his best efforts to find his child, de Vecchi never did. He took his own life later in the year.

exterior of the mansion covered in vines
Exterior photo of the villa covered in plant growth (Photo Credit: Edoardo Colombo / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

With no immediate kin remaining, the villa was passed into the hands of the Count’s brother Biagio who moved his family onto the grounds. Although he did undertake some renovations, the house was largely left the same as when it was built. The Count’s family, and those who inherited the property from him, lived at the Villa de Vecchi until the Second World War. Attempts were made to sell to outside buyers in the following years, but it was ultimately left abandoned by the 1960s.

Haunted house

Legend has it that the occultist Aleister Crowley spent time in the house in the 1920s. He and his followers allegedly partook in satanic rituals as well as slayings. It is unclear how this would have happened with the family still living there, but Crowley’s stay, along with the deaths of Count Felix de Vecchi and his family, helped perpetuate the lingering rumors that the villa is haunted.

Abandoned piano missing the legs.
Piano inside the Villa de Vecchi that has lost its legs, January 11, 2015. (Photo Credit: Dave/ Flickr/ CC BY-NC 2.0)

The once-grand piano has long since been destroyed but it is said that a ghostly entity can still be heard playing it. Others say that a female voice can be heard inside the house. Many who have visited the site insist that there’s something eerie about the derelict building – or more accurately, something inside it.

In 2002, an avalanche destroyed many houses in the area, but the Red House remained standing.

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As of 2023, the house is boarded up and padlocked to prevent those wanting to explore the secrets of the “House of Witches” from getting inside. However, this hasn’t stopped the building from earning the title of the most haunted villa in Italy.