One of my favorite things to write about on this blog is haunted houses you may have never heard of. This particular haunted house came to me thanks to someone posting about it in the facebook group. So, without further ado, let’s head to the mountains of Cortenova in Italy and open the doors to Villa De Vecchi, also known as the Red House and what may be one of the most haunted homes in Italy.
Villa De Vecchi lies just east of Lake Como in the bewitching, lush forests in the mountains of Cortenova. Villa De Vecchi, in addition to being known as the Red House, has also been called the Ghost Mansion and the House of Witches (Casa Delle Streghe). It took three years to build between 1854-1857 and was initially created to be the summer home of Count Felix De Vecchi. The count specifically sought out his friend and architect Alessandro Sidioli to design the home but it would be Sidioli that would serve as the first bad omen for Villa De Vecchi. Sidioli would die one year before the completion of the home and would never be able to see the finished project.
Some of the rumors about the home might be about its unique architecture, at least for Italy. Before he became a decorated war hero Felix spent much of his youth traveling through Egypt, India, and the Middle East. While traveling he wrote and sketched beautifully of his adventures and even published them in a book, which was celebrated. His travels continued in the early 1840s during his honeymoon with Carolina Franchetti di Ponte. His reputation as a lover of eastern art, architecture, and culture proceeded him and it only made sense that his home would reflect the architecture and art he so admired.
The family lived in the summer retreat for several seasons enjoying the beautiful architecture and lush forest that surrounded them. However, as the legend states, one summer the tranquility of the home was forever changed. In 1862 while the Count was off working his daughter and wife stayed at home in their summer retreat without his protection. In a move that was believed to be born out of anger for Felix’s support of Unification, a team of people unknown to this day snuck into the home and brutally murdered his wife and stole away his daughter. Although he searched for her, it was in vain and she was never discovered. In a fit of pain and unable to continue on without his family, he took his own life.
Although this seems like a legend bound to create a haunted house, it has been largely debunked. According to Italy Magazine, this tale is, “Not true. The building was abandoned and fell into disrepair after De Vecchi’s death.”
However, it is said the house was never habitable again for a consistent amount of time, even as a vacation home. Although several aristocratic families tried to make their stake in the beautiful and utterly unique home each left shortly after spending time on it. Some say it is because of the ghosts of Felix and his family, others say the very ground is cursed, and others say that something about the house just seems to drive people...mad.
However, the home’s reputation continued to make its way around Europe and in the 1920s infamous occulist, Aleister Crowley spent a few nights in the home. Although it is not reported quite what he did there his visit inspired many of his fans to also make pilgrimages to the Red House. Fans began to flock to the home and rumors of ritualistic orgies, animal sacrifices, ritual harm, spell-casting, astral projection, and other occult activities began to swirl.
Locals of the area say that the infamous, but now destroyed grand piano, can still be heard distantly playing in the distant. Urban explorers frequent the site to this day, although it is now off limits since the second floor collapsed and injured an explorer. Although it has been heavily affected by the elements the house miraculously survived a 2002 avalanche. Large boulders came falling down throughout the moment but they stopped mere feet before they reached the home. And, as Italy Magazine says, “ Locals are not sure that was a good thing.”
The featured image was taken by jeff kerwin and is licensed under Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0).