Ghost of Zagarolo: a pilgrim on Francigena Way

A special part of history took place inside the Rospigliosi Palace where the ghost of Zagarolo is condemned to follow the Francigena Way.

The Francigena Way is the path that many pilgrims travelled in the Middle Ages from the north of Europe to Rome, to the tomb of St. Peter. Some went on to Brindisi, along the Southern Francigena Way, to embark for the Holy Land. The common hope was to have their sins forgiven and to earn eternal redemption.

The diary of the travels of Archbishop Sigerico, who went to Rome in 990 to receive the Pope’s investiture, helped reconstruct the most important stages of the Via Francigena Way in the over 1000 miles separating Canterbury from the eternal city.

The foreigner travelling to Rome in the Middle Ages had no time to witness local culture and so his pilgrimage became a real journey. Francigena Way was the most important communication channel in Europe: along this way, churches, markets, stories, traditions and urban settlements arose.

Legend has it that the ghost of Pompeo Colonna is still on the path of the Southern Francigena Way, often passing through Zagarolo, that was a small and fascinating village along the Prenestina Road, where he would have committed the crime he is still expiating.

Zagarolo is easily recognizable: from its urban fabric emerges, in its beauty, the baroque church of Saint Peter which, with its 46 metre height, is the first image for a traveller entering the small village.

The young Colonna, returning from victory in the Battle of Lepanto against the Turks, transformed the medieval fortress of Zagarolo, belonging to his family, into a majestic palace, today Rospigliosi palace.

The palace is an imposing building in the historic centre of the village with two parallel wings forming a majestic horseshoe.      ( Zagarolo toy museum)

Pompey was a husband of little faith and in the halls of his residence, the very ones that host the masterpieces of Caravaggio such as The Maddalena and the Disciples of Emmaus, he usually met his concubines.

But the truly grave sin that spotted the life of this nobleman, was the killing of his stepmother Livia!.

Today his ghost walks along the Southern Francigena Way between the capital and Zagarolo to expiate his sins and earn indulgence.

Strange appearances are felt in the room where Livia was hanged. They have also been found by the night-time investigations of the group of Ghost Hunters of Rome, who detected inside the palace abrupt temperature changes and abnormal noises.

Between architecture, stories of loves, betrayal and ghosts we will certainly not be bored in the journey that leads us to the discovery of Zagarolo.