Beautiful … Wild … Cursed

318 Beautiful ... Wild ...CursedToday I am going to bring you into the middle of the Adriatic where we are going to get acquainted with an archipelago consisting of 5 small islets.

Then we are going to visit one very beautiful but cursed island off the Gulf of Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea.

So, let me stop here and off we gooooo toooooo ….. 

Le Isole Tremiti: These five extremely beautiful islets emerge in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. They offer holidaymakers a picturesque “sea pallet” composed of caves, i faraglioni, bays and coves. And this natural beauty is “dressed” in thick and extremely green vegetation. Nature here has still remained intact simply because the archipelago was declared a marine park and reserve in 1989 and it’s been protected since then.

The only habited islets are only two in number. San Domino is the biggest one and it hosts a great part of the tourists visiting the archipelago. San Nicola is the island that keeps numerous historic testimonials. As to the other three islets, they are really very, very small and tiny but each of them has its own characteristic features. For example, Caprara is entirely “covered” with capers. Cretaccio is particularly yellowish due to the ground that is rich in clay. And last but not least, it is Pianosa. It’s the driest islet of them all but it’s the richest one in marine fauna.

L’isola della Gaiola: If you liked that short sea trip, it is high time we headed to the Tyrrhenian Sea and l’isola della Gaiola. It emerges in the heart of Gaiola Underwater Park in the Gulf of Naples and only 30 metres off the coastline. Actually, it is an island that consists of two very tiny islets (one occupied by a villa and cobbled streets and the second one totally uninhabited) which are interconnected through a short and narrow bridge (the latter looks like a natural rocky arch bridge but it is a stone one, as a matter of fact).

As far as the name of the island is concerned, it derived from the Latin word “cavea” (a little cave). Why? Because of the great number of cavities that are inseparable part of the landscape of the coast of Posillipo. Then the name was influenced by the local dialect and was transformed into ”caviola” and then “Gaiola”.

The small “two-islet” island was known as Euplea in Antiquity and was a protecting shelter of safe navigation. It also housed a small temple of Venus and some other ancient roman buildings whose remains are now visible either on the rocky part of the island or in the surrounding waters. The several sunken ruins of the Roman structures are home of marine inhabitants or are an attraction for brave divers and swimmers nowadays. By the way, Virgil, who was considered a magician, is thought to have taught his students on both of the islets or in the remains of the Roman harbour.

Apart from being such a pearl near the coastline of Naples, the Gaiola Island is thought to be a very cursed place. Local gossips say that the first resident of the island was a hermit who was named “the Wizard” in the early 1800s. Later the villa in question was built on one of the islands at the end of the 19th century and it was possessed by Norman Douglas (the author of “The Land of the Siren”). So far, so good. You would ask why it’s known as the “cursed island”. It’s said that this place in the sea has brought misfortune and death to each of its owners since 1920. The owner of the villa of that period of time was found dead and wrapped in a rug in 1920 and his wife drowned in the sea some time later.

Misfortunate didn’t stop here. On the opposite, it followed every next rich owner of the villa and the island. Wealthy German Otto Grunback got a heart attack and died here. After that there was one pharmaceutical industrialist (Maurice-Yves Sandoz) who committed a suicide and died in a mental Swiss hospital. The next owner of this place was a German steel industrialist (Baron Karl Paul Langheim) who went bankrupt because of his wild living.

The island belonged aslo to Gianni Agnelli (the owner of FIAT) who lost his only son because the latter committed a suicide. After his death his nephew, Umberto Agnelli, should have taken over the company and run it but, unfortunately, the young man died from some rare cancer only at the age of 33.

The curses of the island and the villa didn’t stop here at all.  Multi-billionaire Paul Getty’s grandchild was kidnapped. The last curse to happen occurred to Gianpasquale Grappone who was put to prison because his insurance company went bankrupt.


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