Every culture throughout history has is ghost stories, whether its Bloody Mary, the Blair Witch or encounters with Casper the friendly ghost.
The Halloween as we know it today- where children run the streets in fancy dress and students in scantily clad “costumes” drinking from red cups- is not quite a true representation of the holiday. The holiday finds its roots in the Celtic festival of Samhain, which marked the beginning of the dark half of the year- Winter. It was believed that during this time the divide between the living world and the “other” world would thin, allowing spirits to cross over more easily. Sensing any similarities? Well, there is more… People believed their dearly departed would return to their family home in search of hospitality so a great feast would be held, food and wine would be shared and left on door steps and people would dress in disguise to blend in with the spirits…
You may have not realized but Halloween isn’t as widely celebrated in France and Italy as it is in other parts of the world, which is an absolute shame since there is always going to be gruesome stories and dark histories in every city. So with that in mind, we wouldn’t want you to miss out on a little harrowing Halloween adventure while on your… well, adventure! Lets start with some inspiration, enter Michael Jackson…
The French may not celebrate Halloween as it's typically done, but on the 1st of November the French celebrate Toussaint, AKA All Saints Day. A Christian festival, All Saints day celebrates both recognized and obscure Saints in Christian religions. On this day flowers or wreaths called Couronnes de toussaints are placed on the graves and tombs of the dead. So, a stroll among the flower-decorated graves is a more culturally authentic way of marking the season.
To some visiting a cemetery is a hair-raising experience, while for others it may be humbling. But the Père Lachaise cemetery is as fascinating as it is earie. Like all Cemeteries you’ll find yourself in a time warp, learning the history of Paris & France through the lives of its dearly and sometimes not so dearly departed. Try our Famous Paris Graves Tour to explore the mysteries in. Here you’ll also come upon some of the biggest name droppers in history from Oscar Wilde and Edith Piaf to name a few. Or why some of their biggest names went unmarked like the famous 27 club member Jim Morrison, lead singer of The Doors.
If walking around graveyards isn’t scary enough for you, throughout October and November experience a horrific Halloween show in Le Manor De Paris the only traditional Halloween event in Paris. The show contains 100 actors, decor worthy of the scariest horror movie and an original soundtrack designed to give you chills. Fancy dress is encouraged so if you need some inspo check out Viva Fista, this store has all your fancy dress needs covered.
Head down to the Paris Catacombs, 65ft below the streets are the macabre galleries of skull and bone belonging to six million Parisians. Originally created to alleviate overcrowding in Paris’ cemeteries, the bones of the long dead where dug up and moved here. However, after the closure of two Reign of Terror Cemeteries, the bones of hundreds of guillotined victims were transferred into the Paris Catacombs. It’s in here that the architect of the Reign of Terror, Maximilien Robespierre’s, bones were moved to after he was ironically guillotined himself. Among other recognizable names like Madam Έlisabeth the sister of Louis XVI and Louis XVIII were also relocated, however there is no indication as to whose bones are where.
October is the perfect time to visit Rome, the weather is mostly warm and the city is buzzing and although Halloween is not necessarily an Italian thing, it's beginning to become more popular.
Many towns across Italy have celebrations on October 31st with similar traditions to Halloween. On the 31st Italians honor the dead by wandering through their villages asking for a sweet called pane d’anima, soul bread, and the more sweets they received, the more prayers they addressed to the donor’s deceased which is similar to trick or treating.
Rome has so many stories to tell and they are far from the average bedtime tale, they are filled with murder, execution and haunting. Take our Rome ghost tour and hear the dark tales of the city. For a start, hear about Giordano Bruno, a philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and poet who was brutally burned at the stake in Rome. His Statue now stands at the heart of the Campo Dei Fiori to commemorate his life and his contributions to science. Its sure to set the tone for night time tour of the cities dark heart.
Halloween and Vampires just go hand in hand and one of the most famous pop culture movies of the last 10 years has to be the Twilight franchise. In New Moon Bella travels to the City of Volterra to stop Edward from revealing himself to humans as a way to provoke the Volturi into killing him. Remember the scene where Bella ran through the crowd of red cloaks to save Edward well that was actually filmed in picturesque village of Montepulciano. So don your best red cloak roll about in a little glitter glue then hop in our Tuscany one day from Rome tour, where you too can sprint across this beautiful Italian Piazza. It’ll be less dramatic but its Halloween, have a sense of humor.