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The Pensione Spirits

Kate Mulhern, Florence, Italy
June 1998

It was a dark and stormy night... no. Just kiddin'. It was actually a rather warm night after a bright, sunny day in Florence, Italy. Twenty students, including myself were staying in a 17th century building that had become the Pensione Burchianti. The building had been owned by the Burchianti sisters since... well... a really long time ago, and some very notorious people had stayed there, like Mussolini. Four women and I were all staying in the biggest and coolest room in the Burchianti... the one that Mussolini himself had actually stayed in. All the walls and the ceiling were frescoed, and it looked like the work had been done in the late 19th century. A cool room, no doubt, but a haunted room? Well...............

On the night in question, my roommates Linda, Emily and Lorraine were all sitting around talking. Our room was the only one to contain a full bathroom, with a shower, a sink and a toliet, and the bathroom had a door on it, which on this night was open. Emily's bed was next to the bathroom, and since she was facing out into the room talking to us, she couldn't see into the bathroom. Lorraine's and my view into the bathroom was blocked by a wardrobe, but Linda had a clear shot. We were all just talking about nothing when Linda looked into the bathroom and said rather nonchalantly, "Hey you guys, I just saw a ghost." Naturally, I began to freak out. "You WHAT?!?!" I said. "I just saw a ghost in the bathroom. He peaked his head out of the bathroom door, looked over at me, then leaned back into the bathroom," said Linda, with the same ease as before. "Did you see him out of the corner of your eye or something?" asked Lorraine. "Nope. I was looking straight at him. Weird, huh? So what were we talking about..." continued Linda. "Wait wait wait. You can't just say something like that and act like it's nothing! What did he look like? Did it look like a mean ghost or a nice ghost," I begged. "Well, it was definately a male, though I can't tell you how I know that, because I couldn't really make out any features on it's face. He was pink and transparent and smallish, and didn't look threatening at all. It just looked at us then went back into the bathroom," offered Linda. "Why aren't you freaking out about this? It's a GHOST, for christsake!" I yelled. "I think I attract ghosts or something, because this sort of thing happens to me all the time. It's really no big deal... it's just a ghost," Linda said. "Oh creepy. I cannot stay another minute in this room! Colleen will protect me!" I stated, and ran out of the room. I entered the room in which Colleen and Marie were staying, finding Colleen and Marie sitting on their beds talking. I announced what Linda had just seen in our room, and Colleen and Marie sympathized with my being a little freaked out about there being a ghost in my room. "You know," began Colleen, "that's really weird, because I've felt some strange things in this room, too. Sometimes when it's just me in the room, I'll be lying on my bed writing in my journal facing the wall, and all of a sudden I'll feel the air shift in the room... as if someone has just walked into it. Then I'll feel the edge of my bed go down, as if someone has just sat down on it. I'll turn around, and there won't be anyone there."

Eventually we all went to bed. From then on, our time in the Burchianti took on a whole new air of mystery. One night at about 3 AM I woke up to a light, extremely cold breeze in my face... a breeze as light as someone's breath. I opened my eyes long enough to see that all the windows and doors were shut. One night Linda awoke to an immense pressure on her chest, as if someone was sitting on it. It was such a pressure that Linda was unable to breathe. On another afternoon, Colleen, Linda and I were in our room talking, with Linda standing in the doorway and Colleen sitting on Linda's bed. All of a sudden, Linda turned around and looked out toward the hallway. Colleen asked who was there, and Linda replied, very puzzled, that no one was there. Colleen swore that she had seen a shape appear next to Linda in the doorway, and Linda said she felt someone standing just behind and next to her. I, of course, freaked out again. On our way to a Medici palace just outside of Florence, we decided to confront one of our professors who lived in the area and had been good friends with Signora Burchianti for many years. "Is the Burchianti haunted?" Marie asked. "Of course. What a silly question," replied the professor. We then prodded the professor to tell us about other things that had happened to students in the past who had stayed at the Burchianti. "Well, most of the things happened in the frescoed room. That's the most haunted room in the Burchianti," began the professor. At this point, Michelle, another student, interjected. "A couple of times when I've been taking a shower in my room, I've seen a shape moving around in the corner of my eye, but when I turn my head, the shape's not there anymore." "Yes," the professor answered, "most of the sightings of ghosts have been out of the corner of people's eyes. Except for Linda's sighting. That's very strange that Linda was looking directly at the ghost when it appeared. People have seen all sorts of things in the Burchianti. There's the phantom maid, who sometimes cleans people's rooms. Then there's the little child that people have seen walking up and down the hallways at night. There's also the ghost of a woman sitting in a chair knitting. One night, a woman who was a student of mine walked into her room, turned on her light, and looked at her sleeping roommate. Her roommate's head was pressed down into her pillow unnaturally hard, and on one side of her face was the indentation of another face... as if someone very heavy was laying on top of her, pressing their face against hers. Except there was no one else in the room. The woman screamed to wake up her roommate, and as soon as her roommate woke up, the indentation was gone. Signora Burchianti refuses to talk about the ghosts in the pensione. She's very afraid of them, and that's why she won't stay there at night. She always has men staying there at night... never any women and never herself. If you've noticed, she's always out of there by 6:00 at night. The Burchianti is a very haunted place. I'm surprised it's taken you this long to see and feel the ghosts there."

The weird thing is, before Linda saw the ghost, I always felt perfectly comfortable sleeping in that room, always getting the best night's sleep I've ever had. One night, all of my roommates stayed in Siena for the night and I stayed in the room by myself. I never felt uneasy... not for one moment.

Kate Mulhern, Florence, Italy
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