31 Days of Halloween: On Atlas Obscura this month, every day is Halloween. Stop by the blog every day this month for true tales of the unquiet dead. Come for the severed heads, stay for the book bound in human skin. Every story is true, and each one is a real place you can visit. We dare you.
All over Europe, ossuaries hold the skeletal remains of the long dead, but only in Naples are they expected to produce winning lottery numbers.
The thousands of anonymous plague and cholera dead that fill the Fontenelle Caves outside of Naples were not always renowned for their predictive powers; primarily they were known for being cursed and the caves a haunted place to be avoided. But a 19th century restoration project brought the living into close quarters with the dead and created a kind of charming, if macabre, ‘cult of the dead’. The trapped souls of the long dead were consulted and conversed with, the skulls cleaned and named, wishes, prayers and eventually, requests for winning lotto numbers placed on rolls of paper lovingly inserted into the empty eye sockets.
The success rate of the lotto-number predicting skulls is unknown, but if you would like to try your luck, the Fontenelle ossuary caves are now open by reservation.
GO SEE FOR YOURSELF
FONTENELLE OSSUARY CAVES Naples, Italy