A villa in the mountains of Cortenova, northern Italy, to the east of Lake Como, is said to contain a gothic tragedy. Villa de Vecchi, commonly known as the Red House, The Witches House, or the Ghost House, is now a derelict ruin, its once spectacular magnificence destroyed by time and graffiti.
It wasn’t always this; the Villa de Vecchi was once the elegant vacation home of Count Felix de Vecchi and his family. Count de Vecchi (1816-1862) was a distinguished military hero, skilled painter, and adventurer who, as a member of the national guard, helped liberate Milan from Austria during Italy’s unification.
He traveled widely around the Middle East, Egypt, and India in his youth, and wrote a book that sold well and contained illustrations of his adventures.
When the Count married Carolina Franchetti di Ponte in 1844, the two proceeded on a voyage that took them throughout Italy, and the Count continued to paint and write about his experiences. The Count had become a celebrity for his romantic portrayals of the locales he had seen by the time the newlyweds returned to Milan.