Thursday, March 8, 2018

HGB Ep. 248 - Legends of Venice

Moment in Oddity - The Cursed Black Angel Statue
Suggested by: Elizabeth (Quoylette on Twitter)

There is a cemetery tucked into the suburbs of Iowa City that is host to a reputedly cursed statue. That cemetery is Oakland Cemetery and behind its iron gates, one will find the Black Angel. Finding a black statue in a cemetery is unique. Most of us are used to seeing, marble or granite statues that generally glean a whitish or gray hue. The Black Angel was not always black. The eight-foot-tall winged figure was once a glimmering gold color. A woman named Teresa Doleful Feldevert commissioned it in 1912 to watch over the graves of her young son and husband. Teresa herself died in 1924 and her ashes were interred with her family at that time. The monument was meant to be a symbol of Teresa's sorrow, but somehow after Teresa passed, the statue went from symbolical to cursed. That diabolical curse claims that anyone who touches the angel will die. The statue quickly turned from gold to black. It started from the top and worked itself down as if sorrow were slowly covering over the angel. Rumors about what started the curse range from Teresa's husband causing the curse because she had not been faithful to him after his death to Teresa herself being a witch who had cursed the statue. Do people really drop dead after kissing or toughing the Black Angel? Stories claim the only way to avoid certain death is to be a virgin when you touch the figure. A story claims that a young woman kissed the feet of the angel and dropped dead six months later. Another man, who claimed the curse was just a story, boasted to his friends that he would touch the statue and be fine. He had a massive heart attack right after following up on that boast by touching the angel. People taking pictures here catch weird light anomalies. Paranormal investigators have recorded ghostly EVPs and weird temperature fluctuations that seem to indicate that the statue is warm, even on a cold winter day. If the Black Angel really is cursed, that certainly would be odd!

This Month in History - William Bradford Born

In the month of March, on the 19th, in 1590, William Bradford was born. Bradford was born to Alice and William Bradford in Austerfield, West Riding of Yorkshire. He suffered great tragedies in his childhood as he lost his parents and a grandfather and ended up an orphan. Childhood sickness left him with not much to do, but read, which led him to have intellectual curiosity. His readings started him on the path of Separatism and he eventually moved to Leiden in Holland to escape persecution from King James I of England. A group of Separatists gathered and made plans to emigrate to America. They enjoyed the freedom the Dutch provided them but they didn't want their children influenced by their customs. The group left on the Mayflower and landed in what would become Plymouth Colony in 1620. Bradford was a signatory to the Mayflower Compact and went on to serve as Governor of the Plymouth Colony intermittently. He died on May 9, 1657.

Legends of Venice (Suggested by listener Mindy King)

Venice is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world and it really is an extraordinary and unusual city. The city gives the illusion as though it is floating on water as most of its streets are canals. The centerpiece of Venice is its Grand Canal that is lined with buildings whose origins date back centuries. Venice itself was founded centuries ago and any city that old is sure to have its share of tales of ghosts and curses. One only has to glimpse just past the Venetian masks, Burano lace, Murano glass and gondolas to see the sordid and haunted past of Venice. Join us as we share a brief history of Venice and its legends and hauntings!

Venice is one of our most favorite cities in the world. We have visited it twice and so we have more than likely seen the outside of these haunted palaces. The city of Venice dates back to 600 AD. Many origin stories developed about the cities founding,but most historians agree that fleeing refugees came to the area trying to get away Huns, Goths and other barbarians. They drove wood pylons into the silt and began building on the pylons. The lagoon islands formed a loose federation. Each little community chose a leader to represent them to the Byzantine authority in Ravenna. When the Byzantine Empire lost its grip on Venice, the residents, who were made up of mostly merchant families, elected their first doge in 726 AD. The doge would have a line of successors that would lead the city for more than 1000 years. By the mid-15th century, Venice had transformed into a city with a mix of people and buildings filled with art, imported silks, incense, mosaics and the buildings showcased unique architecture and decor.

Casin degli Spiriti

Casin degli Spiriti is a palace sitting along a bay in the northern part of the island. The name translates to “house of souls” and that name was inspired by the belief that the palace is cursed. Legends claim that the building was used by occultist sects who invoked the presence of spirits and demons. The ghost that is rumored to haunt this location is said to belong to a painter named Luzzo who lived during the 16th century. He had loved a woman named Cecilia, but she loved another. This rival was another painter named Giorgione. Luzzo was so overcome with grief over this that he committed suicide in the palace. Luzzo's apparition has been seen since that time, wandering the halls of the palace and his spirit cries out for his lost love. A murder has also been connected to the Casin degli Spiriti. The dismembered body of a young woman believed to be a prostitute named Linda Owl was found in a trunk in the lagoon of the palace in the 1950s. For this reason, Venetian fishermen will not fish in the waters near the palace.


One of the more horrible legends coming out of Venice is the story of the butcher Biasio. The Riva de Biasio is named for this evil man. He not only served up the finest cuts of meat, but he also prepared broth that was the talk of the city. One day, a small finger was found in a dish and the police raided the butcher shop. They were horrified to find the organs and body parts of children in the back. Biasio was arrested, had his hands cut off and was tortured before being beheaded in Piazza San Marco. The tavern and the house were he lived was razed. No one is sure how many children he killed.

Palazzo Mocenigo Casa Vecchia

Palazzo Mocenigo, on the Grand Canal, has hosted many historical luminaries including English poet Lord Byron and also Irish Poet Thomas Moore. Today, it is said to host the ghost of a former visitor named Giordano Bruno. Bruno was a Dominican Friar who was tried in 1593 by the Roman Catholic Church for heresy. He was charged with denial of several core Catholic doctrines, including eternal damnation, the Trinity, the divinity of Christ, the virginity of Mary, and transubstantiation. He taught reincarnation and believed in pantheism. He was found guilty and burned at the stake in Rome. He gained considerable fame after his death, but his spirit remains at unrest. He seems to have chosen the palace as his place to wander in the afterlife.

Campiello del Remer

The Campiello del Remer is a beautiful courtyard in Venice with a very unbeautiful legend connected to it. People enjoying a coffee at a cafe table may just witness Loredan Fosco's body emerge from the waters of the Grand Canal with the head of his wife Elena in his hands. Fosco was a noble in the late 1500s who had become insanely jealous over his wife. One day, he was chasing her down with a sword and finally caught upto her. Just after he decapitated her, he glanced up to see that the Doge had witnessed the whole incident. The Doge sentenced him to load the corpse on his shoulders and go to Rome before the Pope. The Pope refused to see him, so Fosco wandered for months with the body. He eventually died or was put to death, but his spirit returned to the Grand Canal to practice his ritual of rising when darkness overtakes the city.

Palazzo Mastelli

The Palazzo Mastelli is also known as the Palazzo del Cammello. The latter name is for the high relief of a camel on the outside of the house. The lower floor features the Renaissance style, while the upper floor is done in the Gothic style. The palace was built in 1112 by three brothers from Morea: Sandi, Afani and Rioba Mastelli. They gained their fortune as silk and spice merchants. There are three statues of the brothers near the entrance of the palace, on the east side of the Campo. A legend claims that these statues are the actual brothers who had been turned to stone because of their greed. They sold a poor quality fabric to a Venetian lady for a very high price and when she discovered the fraud, she cursed the money she gave them. Once they touched the money, they were turned to stone. 

Palazzo Dario

Some locations are so sinister and oppressive that even though they do not have a traditional haunting, they fit into the parameters of a haunted locations podcast. The Ca Dario or Palazzo Dario is one such location. This grand palace sits alongside the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy. This prime location should make it one of the most sought after properties to own, but nobody wants to own this building. The reason being that its cursed history has left none of its former owners unscathed. Most of them were left dead. And this has caused many to call the place not only cursed, but haunted.

Inscribed on the external wall of Palazzo Dario is a Latin phrase that reads "Sub Ruina Insidiosa Genero," which translates to “Whoever lives under this roof, will find ruin.” And the history here makes it clear that the warning is clearly needed. From what we could find, the palace is for currently for sell and there are no takers. The first owner was a merchant named Giovanni Dario and he commissioned it to be built in 1487 as a dowry for his daughter Marietta. After her marriage, Marietta and her family moved into the palace. Shortly after that, Marietta's husband went bankrupt and then soon, the same thing happened to her father. Members of that family would start the trend of owners committing suicide. Nine owners in total would kill themselves.

In the 17th century, the Governor of Canada bought Palazzo Dario and not long after, he was dead. This wasn't from suicide, but the circumstances were mysterious. An Armenian merchant of precious stones named Arbit Abdoll was the next owner. He went bankrupt and died shortly after buying the building. A British owner was persecuted and scandalized by a homosexual affair he was having in the 19th century and he killed himself in the palace. More tragedies followed. Another owner named Henry De Reigner became seriously ill after acquiring the building. Then Count Filipo Giordano was killed inside the palace. The manager of the Who, Christoph Lambert, died at the palace of a heart attack.

The horrible circumstances did not end in our modern era. The tenor Mario Del Monaco was trying to buy the house in 1964 when he was the victim of a bad car accident. Negotiations broke down after that and he never owned the home. Venetian businessman Fabrizio Ferrari bought the house in the early 1980s and he moved his sister Nicoletta in with him. He was bankrupt within months and his sister died in a car accident. In the latter part of the 1980s, a financier named Raul Gardini moved into the palace and soon suffered a series of economic reverses and he committed suicide over that! Now some may claim that these are all just coincidences, but this kind of record, it would be hard not to believe that the place is cursed. There are those who claim that the foundation that the building was constructed upon has a negative energy.

Some say that what happened with the Dario family was normal with their finances. They think the curse started due to Marietta. She had written in her will, "I, Marieta, daughter of the late messir Zuan Dario and at present wife of the nobleman messir Vicenzo Barbaro, considering that nothing is more certain than death, and nothing more uncertain than the hour of death, not wanting to die without a testament so that my affairs are left disordered, sound of mind, intellect and body, but close to childbirth, sent for the undersigned notary of Venice and requested that he make my testament, and after my death that he also complete and confirm it according to the regulations of this city. (…) Always intending that my house, that belonged to my father in the area of San Vido go and must go to my male sons and to their male heirs. And if there are no sons, I want it to go to the daughters, and I do not want that these sons and daughters in any way during their lifetime dispose, sell or pawn it, but (I want it to) remain under the above-mentioned condition." Could it be that since the palace passed out of the family's hands, that the curse was spawned?

There are those who claim that this is the most haunted place in Venice, but we honestly could find no ghost stories to go with it. But the curse seems very real.

The San Marco and San Todaro Columns

Most people don't know that this spot in San Marco Square was the scene of executions of criminals. Crimes ranged from stealing to fighting against the Republic to murder. The two columns were suppose to be three, but one sunk when they were being transported to Venice from Constantinople. It still sits on the bottom of the sea. This was beginning of a curse that is claimed to be on the columns. The fact that they were part of executions has only added to the rumors of curses and hauntings here.

Poveglia Island

Poveglia Island is said to be the island of no return. Poveglia is actually two small islands located off of the coast of Lido in the Venetian Lagoon. Originally, the island served as a port for the Roman Empire. This became the dumping ground for plague victims who were both dead and alive. This started innocently enough as the island was used as a checkpoint for incoming ships. In 1793, there were several cases of the plague on two ships and the people were left at a confinement station set up by the Public Health Office on the island. This arrangement became permanent in 1805. After the plague had passed, it was decided to put a mental asylum on the island and the main doctor was an evil man. He turned the asylum into his personal playground where he would torture and experiment on the patients there. This took place in 1922. He met his death by falling from the tower of the asylum. The legends claim that the ghosts of his victims took out their revenge on him by throwing him off the tower.

Today, there is an abandoned church and another structure which the locals say was a convalescent home. There is also the military Octagon. The island is primed for ghosts. Locals say that over 160,000 deaths have occurred on Poveglia Island. No one is suppose to visit the island. A few tour companies will take visitors by on boat. It's no wonder that people do not want to step foot on an island reputed to be 50% human ash. Ghostly mists that strangle are said to rise from that soil. Some say that the tortuous doctor survived his fall, but was strangled by the mist.

Venice has a Venice Ghost and Legends Walking Tour. There are many legends about Venice. Are there ghosts hanging around the city? Is Venice haunted? That is for you to decide!

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