Folklore of Italy refers to the folklore and urban legends of Italy. On the Italian territory, in fact, different peoples have followed one another over time, each of which has left its traces in the popular imagination. Some tales also come from Christianization, especially those concerning demons, which are sometimes recognized by Christian demonology.


This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (September 2012)
Type Name Remarks Ref.
Similar to Santa Claus Befana An old woman who delivers gifts to children if they have been good, coal if they have been bad throughout Italy on Epiphany Eve (the night of January 5); like Saint Nicholas or Santa Claus. [1]
Santa Lucia A holy woman who delivers gifts to children of Bergamo and province on 13 December, again like Santa Claus. [1]
Creatures Badalisc A mythical creature of the Val Camonica, in the southern central Alps. [2]
Thyrus, the dragon of Terni One of the most famous dragons of Italian folklore, a river dragon that besieged Terni in the Middle Ages. One day, a young and brave knight of the noble House of Cittadini, tired of witnessing the death of his fellow citizens and the depopulation of Terni, faced the dragon and killed it. From that day, the town assumed the creature in its coat of arms, accompanied by a Latin inscription: "Thyrus et amnis dederunt signa Teramnis" ("Thyrus and the river gave their insignia to Terni"), that stands under the banner of the town of Terni, honoring this legend. [3]
Seven-headed dragon According to a popular legend, there was a dragon with seven heads which lived near Oltre il Colle (Bergamo province), devouring livestock and drinking water that would confer immortality. It was at first attacked in vain by rebellious farmers and hunters. It was then attacked by an army composed of the best soldiers of the armies of the small states of Italy and fled, defeated, into the water, which became the muddy and undrinkable water of the Fonte Drago ("Wellspring [of the] Dragon"), Oltre il Colle.
It is not the only monster in the area of Oltre il Colle: there is also a wicked maga ("sorceress" in Italian) to threaten it.
Ogre A fairy-tale character probably derived from Orcus of Roman mythology, an evil imaginary humanoid monster of enormous size with a irascible temperament, a devourer of human flesh, especially of children.
Ferocious Beast An enormous animal similar to a wolf. It ate pets and children and terrorized Milan during the 1790s and the Milanese organized a hunt against it. After months they killed the Ferocious Beast and displayed its body at the University of Pavia; but it is no longer there and has been missing for decades. Informal sources claim it was stolen, destroyed during World War II, or removed specifically by German actions during that war. [4]
Other Egg of Columbus Refers to a brilliant idea or discovery that seems simple or easy after the fact. The expression refers to a popular story of how Christopher Columbus, having been told that discovering the Americas was no great accomplishment, challenged his critics to make an egg stand on its tip.
Striga A demon or creature, derived from the Corsican myth of the Stegge. It is a witch or sentient beast of mammalian features, and resembles a woman, bat, dog and rat. It is not an omen but rather a bringer of harm and fear. It is said be a female thing that feeds on the blood and often parasites men and children. It is a type of bogey beast, like vampires in Slavic mythologies and lore. [5]
Giufà Referred to in some areas of the country. A "village fool", whose actions and words usually serve to provide a moral message. [6]

See also


  1. ^ a b Illes, Judika. Encyclopedia of Spirits: The Ultimate Guide to the Magic of Fairies, Genies, Demons, Ghosts, Gods & Goddesses (2009) p. 269. ISBN 978-0-06-135024-5
  2. ^ "Festa del Badalisc ad Andrista (località di Cevo)" (in Italian). Retrieved 2011-01-03.
  3. ^ Francesco Angeloni, Historia di Terni e Elia Rossi Passavanti, Interamna dei Naharti
  4. ^ riservati, © Mitì Vigliero - Tutti i diritti (11 April 2013). "La Bestia Feroce Che Mangiava I Bambini A Milano: Una Storia Del Settecento".
  5. ^ European Mythology, Raymond V. Pazón
  6. ^ Ashliman, D. L. "Eat, My Clothes!". Clothes Make the Man - folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 1558 selected and edited by D. L. Ashliman. Retrieved 2009-10-13.

Further reading