The Mummies of Venzone – Venzone, Italy - Atlas Obscura

The Mummies of Venzone

Venzone, Italy

Meet the oldest inhabitants of this Italian hamlet, a series of oddly preserved mummies.  


The fortified Italian city of Venzone is one of the most extraordinary examples of architectural and artistic restoration in Italy. Razed to the ground by an earthquake in 1976, the city was rebuilt stone by stone exactly as it was in the Middle Ages.

What makes Venzone popular today are the mummies housed in the former Chapel of San Michele. The bodies date back to the early 1300s and were extracted in the 19th-century and transported to the University Cabinet of Padua,  the Museum of Vienna, the Church of the Invalids in Paris, and eventually Venzone. 

The first mummy extracted in 1647 is known as the “Gobbo” (hunchback), so called because of the curved nature of the body. This particular mummification is due to a fungus that grows in the tombs of the Cathedral of Venzone. A sort of parasitic mold called “Hipha Bombicina Pers,” which quickly dehydrates the body and causes the skin to resemble the consistency of parchment paper.

Know Before You Go

The mummies can be seen year-round in Venzone. Venzone is located 65 km away from the Austrian and Slovenian borders and can be easily reached by car driving on highway S.S.13 Pontebbana or motorway A23 Alpe Adria. Exit at tollgate Amaro-Carnia and continue on highway S.S.13 Pontebbana towards Udine.

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January 22, 2019

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