The Gaiola island in the gulf of Naples is one of those incredibly beautiful places surrounded by an equally incredible aura of mystery, fear and fascination. Maybe the two go hand in hand or perhaps it’s just a coincidence, but what is for sure is that every person who has stepped on the soil of this tiny island has either died or run into catastrophic misfortunes…
First of all, let’s be precise: the Gaiola island is actually made of two minuscule islands linked by what today looks like a very frail and dangerous bridge. The Gaiola faces the Posillipo hill and is located at the center of the Gaiola Underwater Park, a Marine Protected Area established in 2002. The history of Gaiola, though, goes way back. According to a legend, the Latin poet Vergil (who, as we have seen talking about the Egg Castle, was regarded as a sorcerer and alchemist in Naples) used to practice his obscure arts in this area. For this reason, many believed that the water of Gaiola had been polluted by his magic rites and that a curse befell upon anybody venturing in the area.
Until the beginning of the 19th century, the island was uninhabited apart from a hermit named “The Sorcerer” and belonged to Italian archaeologist Guglielmo Bechi. The Gaiola was then sold to Luigi de Negri who built the villa still visible today in 1874. From this period on, every person who happened to own the Gaiola island underwent some serious problems and some of them have even died of a violent death. Hans Braum and Otto Gruenback who bought the island at the beginning of the 20th century, died quite right after moving to the island. The day after Braum’s wife Elena Von Parish drowned when the chairlift connecting the island to the continent failed during a storm, the first was found dead rolled up in a carpet, the second committed suicide.
After Braum, the island was bought by the following: Maurice-Yves Sandoz and after by Edoardo Agnelli (who both committed suicide); Paul Getty (who went through the suicide of his oldest son, death of his youngest son, and kidnapping of a grandson, Paul Getty III by the mafia); and Gianpasquale Grappone (who was arrested for bankruptcy fraud). As we can see, the “Gaiola curse” seems to prefer ridiculously rich people who buy an island that evidently cannot be owned.
After Grappone, nobody has ever wanted to buy the Gaiola island again. The villa has been neglected and the island has become property of the Campania region. You can still admire it from the coast or dare to approach it by swimming in the beautiful water of the Marine Protected area. Or maybe just don’t. Enjoy Gaiola’s beauty, its sea, its unique scenery, its history, but don’t disturb it. Leave it be.
Gaiola IslandArea Marina Protetta Parco Sommerso di Gaiola, Discesa Gaiola, 80123 Napoli NA, Italia
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Sara Anna Iannone
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