Even today, it’s a bit inconvenient trying to find a way there from the center of town—but back when I was traveling there as an assistant at the music academy, it was still a place I looked forward to going because of the way the historic interior and exterior had been preserved.
I’m not sure if it’s better to know the history of Villa Simonetta or not. I say that because when I read an article on the mansion recently I could hardly believe my eyes. The story was one that I could not have imagined happening in that tranquil setting.
Although, come to think of it, it seems that one of my coworkers did mention something about ghosts back then…
I later had an opportunity to read another article about Villa Simonetta, which gave me a rough history on how it came to be haunted. After passing through the hands of several aristocrats, the Simonetta family purchased it for a widowed member of their family named Clelia—who it seems was still quite young. Ashamed of Clelia’s behavior because of the damage it was causing the Simonetta family reputation, they took great pains to punish and isolate her so that the rumors would stop spreading—so most likely they locked her up in the mansion.
Apparently, though, this did nothing to reform her; instead, she went in completely the opposite direction that the family anticipated. She was basically disowned by her family, and whether out of loneliness or revenge, she started hosting lavish parties and it only escalated from there. In one story, attendees were asked to wash up in the bathroom upon arrival so that they could later do anything and everything they pleased.
You might assume at this point that the place is haunted by Clelia, but that’s not the case. It’s said that Clelia had something to do with the disappearance of eleven beautiful young people—that’s a lot of missing people at once! Somehow Clelia was condemned for having erotic parties, or having cast a magic spell on those eleven people. In any case, the truth is lost to time.
So, the ghosts are these eleven handsome young men?
One of the distinctive architectural features of Villa Simonetta was the way sound travels through it. Apparently, if you stand in the garden and call out something towards the house, it will echo back to you. Much of the villa was rebuilt after it got damaged in the Second World War, however, so the echoing effect isn’t what it used to be.
Perhaps all that echoing is what led to made-up tales of ghosts.