Gaiola Island (Isola della Gaiola in Italian) is a small Italian island located just off the coast of Naples in the heart of Gaiola Underwater Park, a protected region of about 42 hectares.
The island takes its name from the cavities that dot the coast of Posillipo.
The location was held in high regard by the ancient Romans, who built a temple to Venus on the island, which was then known as “Euplea.”
It is said that the legendary Roman poet Virgil favored the island and taught his students there.
In the 19th century, it played host to a coastal battery for the defense of the Bay of Naples.
There are many legends about the place being cursed.
In the early 1800s, the island was inhabited by a hermit nicknamed “The Wizard”, who lived thanks to the charity of fishermen.
Soon after, the island saw the construction of the villa that occupies it today and which was, at one time, owned by Norman Douglas, author of Land of the Siren.
Without warning, “The Wizard“ mysteriously disappeared.
Many locals believe that he cursed the island before he left, and many unfortunate things came to pass for people who subsequently lived on or owned the island. All met with strange fates.
The series of misfortunes started sometime in the 1920s, when the then owner, a Swiss named Hans Braun, was found dead and wrapped in a rug.
Not long after, his wife drowned in the sea. The next owner was the German Otto Grunback, who died of a heart attack while staying in the villa. Maurice-Yves Sandoz, another owner, would later commit suicide in a Swiss mental hospital.
The island has also belonged to Gianni Agnelli, the head of Fiat, who suffered the deaths of many relatives. The multi-billionaire Paul Getty was the next to buy the island, just a little while before his grandson was kidnapped.
The island’s last owner Gianpasquale Grappone, who owned an insurance company, ended up in prison because of his debt.
Abandoned in fear, the island now sits alone and the villa remains uninhabited as it slowly falls into ruin.