In the hamet of Cortenova, within the forested Province of Lecco, Lombardy, sits a nineteenth-century mansion variously known as  “The House of Witches,”  “The Ghost House” or “The Red House.” In the spirit of Eclecticism, the building’s architectural heritage can be found in Baroque and Eastern forms of the discipline. 

The house was built between 1854 and 1857 by Count Felix de Vecchi and was meant to be his family’s residence during the halcyon days of summer. Vecchi employed Alessandro Sidoli as his architect although he did not see the project brought to fruition, as he died around one year before it was completed. In retrospect, this event could be where the rumours of bad luck and hauntings connected to the property began. 

According to gossip and legend, in 1862 Vecchi, who had been out, returned to the property to find his wife brutally murdered and his daughter missing. The latter was never found and apparently the count cold not live with this and went on to take his own life. Accordingly, the property passed directly to the count’s brother, Biagio, who lived on the estate with his family until around the time of World War II. During the 1920s, it was said that Aleister Crowley, the self-proclaimed prophet and controversial occultist, had stayed there, which fuelled the fires relating to gossip concerning witchcraft, sex rites and ritual sacrifice.  

Beyond the remians of the house, which in itself is a verifiable architectural primary source, exactly which parts of the story are urban legend and what sections are fact remains unclear. What is certain however, is that when you look upon these images of a home now abandoned and vandalised… today, of all days, when the veil between the living and the dead is at its most thin, you may feel a little shiver as you sip your pumpkin spiced latte. Not to worry though. Stoke up the fire, draw the drapes and try to convince yourself that you DID NOT just hear the tinkling keys of a grand piano…

Images: Image 1 Courtesy of NSS Magazine.

Images 2 – 7 courtesy of Matteo Rubboli and Vanilla Magazine

Image 8 Wikimedia Commons.

References: “Villa de Vecchi,” Atlas Obscura. 

“Is This The Creepiest Villa In The World,” Daily Mail, 17 October, 2018.  

Posted by Samantha Hughes-Johnson

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