Naples is a city full of traditions and legends. Over the centuries, stories of terrifying monsters and benevolent spirits were common in popular tales, impressing adults and children. Apart from mysteriously mythical figures, such as sirens, the city is also a scenario of anecdotes about magical people who existed in real life. On the occasion of Halloween, here is a list of 5 magicians and witches in Naples.
The sibyl was a classical era oracle that used to tell vague prophecies. Women who could aspire to this role, strictly virgin, were usually priestesses of Apollo or Ecate. This visionary woman lived near Lake Averno and its anthrop was considered the entrance of the underworld. In Virgil’s Aeneid, in fact, Aeneas turns to her to reach the afterworld, with the intention of meeting his deceased father.
The famous classic poet Virgil, born in Lombardy and then moving to Naples, was a clever connoisseur of the finest arcane talents. There are a lot of legends about him: it is said that he built Castel dell’Ovo on a magical egg, which would only break when the fortress was taken. In another story, Virgil would build a bronze equestrian statue to ward off a disease that afflicted horses.
The Count of Cagliostro is one of the most mysterious personalities of the eighteenth century. He was a wizard, an alchemist and a mason. He visited many countries, including Italy and specifically Naples. He was an enterprising man who often had problems with the law: he was even involved in the scandal of Marie Antoinette’s necklace at Versailles court. He was accused by the Catholic Church and then imprisoned for life with the accusation of witchcraft.
This legend is born of a real historical fact: the eruption of the Vesuvius of 1858. It is reported that after this eruption, the inhabitants of the Vesuvian countries began to hear gruesome screams of women every night. Expeditions were arranged to understand what caused that chilling sound but nothing was ever found. Shocked by this unexplainable phenomenon, the citizens turned to an exorcist living on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius. The woman launched several spells, thus eradicating the paranormal phenomenon. Disney has been inspired by her for creating a character, Magica De Spell.
Janara is a kind of witch spread in the woods of Benevento. The name comes from “dianara” or “priestess of Diana”, the Italian goddess of hunting. It is said that these women still gather in the woods, in full moon nights, dancing around trees and bonfires completely naked. The janaras are feared by locals who are trying to drive them away leaving brooms or salt in front of the door of their home. If one of these witches succeeds in getting into the house, however, tradition wants to grab them for their hair and hunt them by reciting magic formulas.