The Ghost of Baron Bettino Ricasoli

Imagine you find yourself spending a night in a huge medieval castle practically alone because you have decided to confirm the existence of a ghost that countless witnesses have told you wanders its rooms. Fearful? Undoubtedly! This is what happened in March 1964 to Renato Polese, a well-known Roman cartoonist, who had been fascinated for some time by the legend of the ghost of Bettino Ricasoli.

In the more than 80 years that separate the night of Polese’s thriller at Brolio Castle from October 23, 1880 – the date on which the “Iron Baron” left this land – the stories about the Baron’s appearances in and around the Castle are uncountable. The ghost, always dressed in a black wool coat, has been reported to alternate his night tours through the countryside of Brolio riding his white horse with more or less obvious signs of his presence: he breaks dishes in the kitchen, crumples the sheets of his bed, wakes up the farmers in the middle of the night. And there are also those who swear that they have been saved in situations of great danger by his presence.

Polese had the confirmation he was looking for: just before midnight he saw “only” a white shadow wearing a black wool jacket, preceded by disturbing signs – the noise of a galloping horse, the candle next to the bed that went out on its own, the dog of the castle caretaker barking. He went on to recount his experience in a long article on the pages of La Domenica del Corriere, one of the most popular weekly newspapers of the time, consecrating the fame of the ghost of Bettino throughout Italy to the present day. What about today? If you ask Francesco Ricasoli about the ghost of his ancestor, he will perhaps remain evasive about whether he has seen it or not, but he will not deny its existence.