Italian Witch Hunting in Naples

Witch Hunting in Naples, ItalyLike Salem is to America, the city Naples is home to a rich and mysterious history of magic and witchcraft, or as it is called in Italian, stregheria. It is not at all uncommon for European cities to boast such a past, as the pre-Christian world was ripe with healers and folk magic, but the area around Naples continued their mystical traditions well into the Christian age.

During the late 1800s, an author by the name J.B. Andrews conducted a series of interviews with known Neapolitan strega (witches). He discovered that each witch seemed to specialize in his or her own area, whether it be sea magick, earth magick, herbalism, and even astrology. He was curious as to whether or not they learned their practices from sacred text but discovered that the tradition was entirely oral, “given by mother to the daughter.”
Stregheria is still prevalent in modern day Naples and has been highly influenced Hermetic groups. Of course today, we all have access to the spells and rituals that Old World strega used to practice thanks to a large interest in the occult and a number of volumes that have been printed on modern Paganism. Italian-American author and Salem, Massachusetts resident Raven Grimassi is one of the few writers to focus on Italian witchcraft today.

Italian WitchesIf the mystery of the occult piques your interest, then Naples and its surrounding area is the perfect place to plan your next European escape. Try a trip to Benevento, also called Italy’s “City of Witches,” a mere 50 km northeast of Naples. Here once stood a sacred walnut tree, known as the place where witches would gather on their sabbats to sing and dance. When Saint Barbato converted the Duke to Christianity in 622, the Duke proceeded to have the tree chopped down. Legend says it didn’t take long for the stump to magically begin to grow, restoring the old walnut tree to its previous glory. Even the transcripts from the Italian Witch Trials make mention of it. It is believed that this particular tree still stands near Avellino in Stretto di Barba and that modern day witches secretly meet there.

witches in SicilyNot just concerning stregaheria, but Naples history in general has a lot to do with its relationship to Sicily. With a car rental in Italy, you will easily be able to travel down the coast to Villa San Giovanni and hop a ferry. Sicily was home to the famous Fairy Witch Trials. It is believed that the fairies and elves would make human contacts in Sicily and carry them away to Benevento. The fairies and the women who were involved with them were named the “donas de fuera.” During the 16th and 17th centuries, there were an unknown number of witch trials held in Sicily. Unlike the Salem Witch Trials, the women on trial said nothing of the devil, but instead spoke of the fae and were tried for sorcery. Far less violent than the US trials, most of the sentenced were simply banished, put in prison, and some were even set free.

What is interesting is that all of these events can be traced back or lead back to Naples. Plan your next vacation in Italy and discover the magic for yourself!

Melissa Rae Cohen is a travel writer in love with all things mysterious and magical. Her family immigrated to Ellis Island from Naples during the early 1900s. Today she lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two naughty cats and works as a travel writer for Auto Europe.  

The New Club Med – Nude Hedonists or Family Friendly?

Club Med
Club Med – Not What You Might Expect

To start, I should probably disclose that until recently when people mentioned Club Med to me I pictured two things:
First – A bunch of hedonistic nudists having orgies on yachts in the Greek Islands or enjoying sensual holidays in Portugal
Second (and perhaps more reasonably) a bunch of pampered and spoiled middle aged tourists enjoying exotic places like the south of France who don’t have to do any of the hard parts of travel but simply spend tons of money to enjoy the best parts.
In fact, Club Med is something very different from both. I don’t know how much you know about Club Med, but what it really is, is an all-inclusive holidays with a very wide number of activities included. It is essentially a service that makes it very easy for people to budget their holidays.
During holidays the staff are called GOs (gentil organisateur = nice organizer) and the customers are called GMs (gentil membre = nice members). There is a very close and friendly relationship between GOs and GMs: GOs help you with anything and do all the activities with you as if they are clients themselves.
Everything is taken care of: people going to Club Med feel free to relax and do nothing or get highly involved in all the activities, meet many people and have a lot of fun.
And all of this is possible regardless of the type of resorts: for families, for couples or for friends wanting to party. The food is served through buffets, where people can eat as much as they want. There are many different types of foods with new specialties from exotic places on a regular basis. You can be sure you will be able to have some “raclette” or “fondue” everyday in every winter ski resort, and still have the opportunity to choose among regular food.
I have recently met a few folks who went to Club Med as kids, and I can guarantee you that children have an amazing time over there! But, as I mentioned, there are adults only resorts as well, so maybe the hedonistic version I mentioned really does exist somewhere.
I’ve met a fair number of people who have been to Club Med in resorts all over the world and one thing I’ve never heard from any of them is a complaint. Frankly, I’m amazed by that. No complaints about the price, the service, the activities, the resorts – nothing at all!
The interesting thing about my ideas about Club Med is that while I was picturing the “unique” bits, I was picturing the wrong bits. In fact, what makes Club Med unique is the service, the way it is set up and the huge number of things that are included in each package. The close bond between GMs and GOs make it unique too. It is true that not everybody wants to socialize but they don’t have to if they don’t want to.
Here is a mind blowing statistic. Out of several hundred people I’ve talked with who have been to Club Med, only three families of them haven’t been back and that was because of work and finances – they all said they would like to return.

It’s actually not all about beaches and yachts either, check out the Club Med ski resorts:
In any event, Club Med isn’t even all about Europe – you can find Club Med in Morocco, Turkey, Cancun, or elsewhere – so, if you want to budget an incredible trip – you might just want to have another look at Club Med.

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