The little old lady and the non-existent alley

There can be no shortage of ghosts in a city as ancient and rich in history as Genoa.

Here’s the story of the most famous one. Going for ghosts? In Genoa you can. There are many legends, tales, suggestions and also a series of guided tours, a themed book-guide, the ghost tours, which can be done all year round.

Every tale, believe it or not, is also a good reason to stroll through the maze of alleys. Ghosts also include a star: the “Vecchina di vico dei Librai”, an old woman who stops people in the street to ask them where vico dei Librai is. Then she disappears into thin air.

Vico dei Librai, for the record, is no longer there today: a street that disappeared as a result of the urban planning changes in the Porta Soprana area, the gate to the historic centre. Some say that the first sighting of the old woman dates back to 1989, when some people who were strolling peacefully were suddenly stopped by a very old lady, dressed in old, unfashionable clothes, who asked them where vico dei Librai was, all in strict Genoese dialect.

None of them could give her an answer, however, and before they could do anything, the old lady had already disappeared. Also according to popular tales, the lady, shortly after the first sighting, met a young beggar to whom she gave a hundred lira note dating back to 1943: according to this version, however, the old woman was wearing completely white clothes.

According to Genoese ghost hunters, the old lady is the restless spirit of Maria Benedetti, a lady who died in 1944 and lived in vico dei Librai.

Legend has it that the old woman appears every five years, always in the period between Christmas and New Year, and always in a vain search for her vanished home.