After enduring howls in the night and creaking staircases for the past three years, an Italian family is preparing to sue the previous owners of their house for not telling them it was haunted.
Gaetano Bastianelli, 57, and his wife Stefania paid €120,000 (£94,000) for the modern home in the Umbrian town of Spoleto in 2005 – encouraged by the fact that all the furniture and fittings were left by the owners, right down to the coffee cups. “We considered it the deal of the century,” said Mr Bastianelli.
The couple claim they were unaware that the house in Santo Chiodo road had been built close to the disused Pozzi Ginori cemetery, or that strange goings-on at the address during the 1970s had necessitated an exorcism – and prompted a visit from Perugia University’s paranormal research team.
“The ghosts started their haunting on the first night,” said Mr Bastianelli, a former long-distance lorry driver. “I woke suddenly at around one or two in the morning. There was water seeping from under the bathroom door.
“The hot water tap was pouring out boiling water and the room was full of steam. My wife was stunned, because she had turned off everything before going to bed.”
He claimed that by next morning, malevolent spirits had left “luminous green mould all over the walls”.
After that things got worse. He said the sound of chains rattling had alarmed his 10-year-old daughter, and claimed that the lawnmower and his wife’s car had spontaneously combusted.
Now Mr Bastianelli has engaged a lawyer, Antonio Francesconi, to sue the previous owners for failing to inform him that the house was haunted.
“We have a good case,” said Mr Francesconi. “Under article 1490 of Italian law, you have to tell buyers if there is anything wrong. I think that the previous owners will settle out of court.”
A local historian, Sergio Grifoni, confirmed that an exorcism had been performed on a girl in the house in 1977.
“The local papers at the time said a girl had been possessed by the devil and had been taken to the bishop. Nothing helped, until Pope John Paul II prayed for her.”
The episode was confirmed by Fr Gabriel Amorth, the Vatican’s senior exorcist, who said: “Pope Wojtyla carried out an exorcism on this girl who was rolling around on the floor of her house.”
He could not confirm whether the house was the same one in Santo Chiodo road.