The Italian Almanac


Haunted House

A man who thought he had found a dream house now finds himself living a nightmare and may ask for the real estate transaction to be declared null and void because the property is haunted. Gaetano Bastianelli, 57, acquired a 200sqm Umbrian farm house, with 5,000sqm of land, for 120,000 euros in 2005 and was convinced this was a ''deal of a lifetime''.

According to his lawyer, Antonio Francesconi, Bastianelli began to witness ''strange occurrences'' soon after moving into his new home in Santo Chiodo di Spoleto, central Italy. These included mysterious footsteps, banging on the walls, furniture falling over without being touched and objects bursting into flame. Bastianelli told his lawyer that he was convinced the previous owners knew the house was haunted but made no mention of this during meetings to negotiate the sale. The fact that the house was haunted was also known to others in the village, Bastianelli claimed, and there were reports that exorcisms had been performed there during the 1970s.

Francesconi said no steps had yet been taken to have the acquisition of farm house annulled and that there appeared to be no legal precedent citing spectral presences as a cause for such action. However, Italian law does allow for real estate transactions to be annulled if, for example, the previous owners did not inform the buyer of a troublesome neighbor, the lawyer said. The question now is whether a judge will consider a ghost to be in the same category as a troublesome neighbor.