When people think about Rome, they always think about the Colosseum, the Roman Forum, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, the Pantheon and the Vatican. Also, they see stuff like pizza, pasta and gelato, of course, in the back of their minds. Very few people actually think about the sea when planning a trip to Rome. Or a haunted, 1000-year-old castle, for that matter. Luckily, I’m not those people. I think about everything when I go somewhere.
This year for my birthday, I wanted to see the surroundings of Rome as well as the Eternal City. This was my third time in the Italian capital, because I’m a freelancer and I can work from anywhere, so I could spare a day to go somewhere near the city. I chose the small village of Santa Severa, a small seaside place overlooked by a medieval castle that’s right on the seashore. It looked amazing online and so it did in real life.
Living in a castle is not as posh as people think
What’s not so amazing is the fact that the castle is extremely remote from anything, as is the village itself. It was October when I travelled there, yet there wasn’t one single restaurant opened for dinner that night. Not even one small panini shop. Niente. Nulla. At the hotel, there were just two vending machines selling KitKat and pretzels, which are not my favourites. No disrespect for you chocolate-covered wafers fans. I just don’t like my sugar added, if you know what I mean.
My only option was to go on a 4-mile walk to the centre of the village and buy something from the supermarket. Which was opened from 5 to 8 only, which was a hoot considering I arrived there at 3:45 and had nothing to do until it opened. There was no coffee shop, no bar, no nothing. Absolutely dead. Even the beach was empty, with the exception of a few locals who were walking their dogs alongside the water.
The haunted hotel in a castle
I chose to spend the night before my birthday in the castle because of its beauty, not because it is supposedly haunted. I think only a crazy person would actually stay in a haunted hotel for the heck of it. Why would you want to spend the night in a hotel that’s occupied by medieval spirits that can scare the shit out of you? It doesn’t make any sense to me.
Luckily, there was no spirit haunting me all through the night. The only thing keeping me awake was a little mosquito who wouldn’t stop bothering me. He didn’t bite me but just buzzed away all through the night. I couldn’t catch it, so maybe it was a spirit in mosquito form? Regardless, the most terrifying of all things wasn’t the fact that the castle was haunted but that it had no water or food you could buy.
The only resources were those vending machines that were solely running on coins. Which I had none. So I had to go into town to buy some food for dinner, as there was no restaurant open in the entire village. Luckily I found some bread and ham to eat for supper in the common room of the hotel. Unluckily, I forgot to grab water. The reception lady helped me with a 1 Euro coin so that I could buy a 500ml bottle of water for the night.
A unique experience
Do you know how people say they’ve had a unique experience going to a place they’ve always dreamed about? And then they go again, missing the point of the word “unique”? Unique means you only go once and then never go back. For me, sleeping in a 1000-year-old Italian haunted castle was really a unique experience in the true sense of the phrase. It was absolutely incredible and I am extremely grateful for being able to stay in one of the most uncommon hotels on Earth.
But I also know I will never go back there again. And there’s no reason for it, it just isn’t something you’d do twice because once is enough. It’s not like going to Rome. No matter how many times you go to Rome, see the Colosseum and eat the pasta, you’ll always have an incredible time being there, even if it’s your 10th time.
Sleeping in a castle? That you can do once and be really happy with.