Salem, Massachusetts might be the most famous location in the world when it comes to the harrowing history of witch trials. However, it's not the location with the most number of witch accusations in the world, and there's one town in Italy that was trying suspected witches almost a century prior to Salem.
In Triora, the history of witchcraft goes back to the late 16th century. After a series of truly unfortunate events struck the town, many began to wonder if there was something more sinister going on. For the early people of Triota, witchcraft seemed the only likely culprit - thus, a witch hunt was started. Today, visitors to the small Italian town can learn about the tortured history of those accused, as well as the role they played in the future of their village.
History Of Witch Trials In Triora
The village of Triora was first settled by the ancient Romans between the 5th and 6th centuries. Originally, it was known for its olive production, which is what sparked an interest in the area, in the first place. Fertile soil was found there and, as with many early civilizations, this was a huge perk for those looking to settle around Italy. As time went on, the village became part of the region's central defense system, fortifying and protecting the cities and towns within. Prior to the dark period of the trials, Triora was part of the French Empire before becoming part of the Kingdom of Sardinia and, eventually, United Italy.
Peace came to the area following the 15th to the 16th centuries; however, it was during this time that the village - and its community - took a surprising turn. Churches followed this period of peace and became the center of the community, which stood in stark contrast to the idea of anything that went against it. Between 1587 and 1589, a plague swept through the town and acid rain fell on the fields, effectively killing and crops it would have yielded for harvest. Since there science and logical reasoning back then were not what they are today, it was determined that a wicked force was at play, mainly witchcraft. The parallels between the witch trials in Triora and those one century later in Salem are truly uncanny.
By October of 1587, the local Parliament requested that authorities step in to stop the suspected spread of witchcraft. During the process, a total of 30 were accused and tortured in an attempt to get a confession. Of the 30 knowns who were accused, a total of 13 confessed. Those who were accused were also put on trial in Genoa, with only four known women having escaped being condemned to the stake due to the grace of Doga in Genoa, according to That's Liguria. The process was so horrific for those accused that as time went on, Triora gained the nickname of the 'Salem of Italy.'
Visiting Trioria And Its History Today
Today, visitors to Triora go for its traditional architecture and incredible Italian food. However, there is a dark side to it that the community still recognizes today, with several events and museums in tribute. It has also been consistently voted one of the most beautiful hamlets in all of Italy, and its beauty can't be underestimated.
Museum Of Etnografie And Witchcraft
For those wishing to learn more about Triora and its witch trials, the Museum of Etnografie and Witchcraft is the place to go. It's conveniently located off the entrance to the hamlet of Trioria, so those visiting won't be able to miss it. The structure itself once housed prison cells which now hold exhibits relating to the dark period in Triora's history. Therefore, it's a slightly eerie experience just walking through it, let alone reading about its tortured past. On display are objects and items that date back to the late 16th century and tell a story of a very different community than what exists there today.
- Admission to the museum is two euros for adults, and one euro for children. Hours vary by season and can be found here.
For those who are brave enough to traverse the outskirts of Triora, they'll stumble upon the abandoned Cabotina. This was once the poorest area of the town and still remains extremely dilapidated and run-down. It's believed that this was also the area in which the alleged witches would hold meetings, and many of the townspeople went out of their way to steer clear of it. Sadly, it was also home to those who were impoverished, as well as single women and peasants - all of whom were among the first who were accused of witchcraft.
- Located outside of the walls that surround Triora.