This place has all the features to make it one of the place of the most classic among the ghost stories of Shirley Jackson: an uncertain and foggy past, the innocent spirits of children victims of horrendous abuses, and an aura dilapidated and derelict due perhaps more to an improper care of the living rather than the curses of the dead. But what is true?
Here we are again in Ferrara, well in Aguscello, small fraction of the city unknown to most of the people if not for the place which the tradition, folklore and testimonies describe as one of the most sinister and haunted in Italy.
How to reach
The asylum locates in about half an hour by car from the center of Ferrara. It is kind of easy to reach and as well you will have the possibility to park your car close to the asylum.
History and documents
The first documentary evidence of the existence of this structure dates back to 1870, when the brothers Pareschi bought the lot in a public auction on the 1st of April. In 1896, a document certifies that the property passes into the hands of Mr. Lombardi, who exercises the usufruct for 12,000 lire per year under the concession of Bishop Enrico Grazioli. The deeds of this period (1900-1933) certify that the clinic Aguscello changes its owner every 3 years.
Investigating we discovered something about the first owner of this place: Mrs. Amelia Guerra, wife of Dr. John Bernardi, who made the building – up until then as a private residence by the previous owners – a hospital for tuberculosis patients. In 1940, it was sold to the Italian Red Cross, which turned it into a psychiatric hospital for children under the age of 13.
Reconstructing the history of Aguscello is not easy . The Red Cross administrated the pedagogical for 30 years, until its sudden abandonment which took place in 1970. With regard to this period, the official documentation of the structure – which also includes the medical records of young patients – is kept in the archives of the provincial committee Ferrara, available to anyone who wish to do an investigation.
Now we will talk about the legend that for years is handed down, going to form the outline of what is “not official” story of Aguscello, in which – for simplicity, or a sadistic love of the macabre – many people now prefer to believe. What follows, therefore, it has nothing to do with the official history of this place but reclaim (only partially) the Aguscello folklore and myth.
According to tradition, what happened in the 30 years of the asylum activities – or “pedagogical” as they used to call in Ferrara – was horrible: the building looks like it was run by nuns who did not particularly care about lonely children there. The testimonies of those who lived through those years in their dialect tell of very heavy physical and mental tortures. A pain that still filters through the walls and shakes the conscience of those who moved out of curiosity went on a visit to former mental hospital Aguscello looking for troubles (the area is unsafe). The atmosphere is heavy and the torture of children is still alive among the objects, chairs, beds that are located inside the old rooms. The walls written by blasphemous words, satanic symbols and decay, find a not care which today pays the building, at the mercy of ivy and the most absolute indifference. What remains of the equipment, including a car to electric shock, were found close to the asylum and, according to some vivid testimony, it is related to the sudden abandonment of 1970. As usual, however, since it is orally passed down legends, the escape from Aguscello reasons are not entirely clear.
Aguscello, ghosts and atrocious crimes
There is no uniformity among the theories that justify the disappearance of children in the asylum during the last days of its existence. The most popular hypothesis speaks of a fire, accidental or malicious, that had put an end to the lives of all the young guests, mercilessly locked up by the “bad” nuns on the top floors of the building.
A version perhaps even more disturbing it is about a child by name Filippo Erni- who was suffering from a severe form of schizophrenia. The young, mentally exhausted from the rigid and oppressive educational methods in vogue in the asylum, he would go mad, killing some of his fellows before being locked up in the last floor of the building. From the only window in the room would be launched in despair, finding the death. Just the soul of Philip Erni was sighted over the years by the many Ghost Hunters . The figure described is that of a child of about 12 years old, blond, grim expression running around Aguscello garden of which is imprisoned for eternity.
A last hypothesis would coincide with the closure of the mental hospital and the death of all its guests with the outbreak of a serious viral epidemic not stemmed by the staff, which, after buried the bodies in a close wooded area in front of the asylum, he would have run away.
Whatever was the destiny of the asylum and all its inhabitants, it is a fact that today the curious who venture exploring Aguscello – unwisely, since the building is unsafe and is a hangout for drug addicts and participants for black masses – say he/she can feel a sense of overwhelming anguish among those walls, and hear the steps and lamentations of many children once present. You can find their testimonies engraved on the decrepit walls signs and phrases that recite their sinister warnings to the unwary visitors.
Aguscello is undoubtedly a place where it is easy to be fascinated: the collapsed floors and stairs disused does not allow you to inspect it in full. Especially the top floor, where according to the legend the children would be locked up and would launch, is absolutely off-limits, and would literally be suicide to try to achieve it.
On the map
PS: Big help comes from http://fantasmitalia.it/, where was possible to find a lot about history of this place. A huge thanks to them!