Haunted Venice: 4 Ghost Stories

Venice can be described as “haunting” just as easily as “magical.” After dark, the romance factor has a tendency to become potentially eerie – in both good and bad ways. It should surprise no one, therefore, that Venice has more than its fair share of ghost stories.

There are haunted places in Venice, but not all of them have specific ghost stories associated with them. Some, like the palace known as Ca Dario, are just said to be cursed. But other parts of Venice have their own ghosts. Here are the stories of four of the most famous ghosts of Venice.

There are ghost walking tours in Venice on which you’ll hear these and other stories of the haunted city. These are affiliate links below, which means I get a little something if you book one of these tours – but it won’t cost you anything extra. Thanks.

Venice || public domain photo

Venice || public domain photo

The Mad Doctor of Poveglia Island

Poveglia, allegedly the most haunted island in Europe, has (according to one report) more than 160,000 plague deaths and Venice’s former insane asylum in its history. It would be creepy without a resident ghost, but some claim there are many. The most well-known is probably the former asylum doctor who is said to have tortured some of his patients. In the end, he is said to have gone mad himself – perhaps seeing some of the island’s ghosts – and threw himself from the bell tower. While the fall didn’t immediately kill him, he died from his wounds not long after. Some say he haunts the island still, though it’s so hard to get to Poveglia if you don’t have your own boat that few visitors ever get a chance to see for themselves if the doctor is still (as they say) in.

The Butcher of Santa Croce

A butcher called Biasio did a brisk trade in the 15th century in sausages and other meats served in a richly flavored sauce. It wasn’t until one diner found what appeared to be a small piece of a finger – including the fingernail – that police raided the back of Biasio’s butcher shop and found that he had been adding pieces of the children he had killed to the food he served patrons. It’s not even clear how many children he killed – he himself couldn’t recall. Biasio was beheaded for his crimes in St. Mark’s Square and the shop and his house were both torn down, but his name lingers on in the name of the Riva de Biasio vaporetto stop.

The Painter in the Casino degli Spiriti

With a name like “Casino degli Spiriti” – small house of the spirits – you know this house has a resident ghost or two. Among the stories in the house’s colorful history is that of the painter called Luzzo who lived there in the 16th century. Luzzo was working in the same era as Venetian legends like Titian, but his legacy is apparently that of unrequited love. The object of his desire was one of the lovers of another painter of the time, Giorgione, and when Luzzo realized he couldn’t have her he killed himself. His ghost is still in the house, pining for the lover he could never have.

The Drowned Man of Campiello del Remer

In the late 16th century, a nobleman called Loredan fell in love and married with the Doge’s niece. Loredan was, unfortunately, a horribly jealous man who later accused his wife of adultery (she denied it). He chased her from their home with a sword, and ended up beheading her in front of the Doge himself. As punishment, the Doge ordered Loredan to carry his dead wife’s body to the pope in Rome to ask forgiveness. The pope refused to see him, so Loredan walked back to Venice and, distraught, threw himself into the lagoon. His ghost can still reportedly be seen at the Campiello del Remer at the Grand Canal, coming out of the water carrying his wife’s head.

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