Florence, Italy.

April, 2005

AlbergoScotti is a small family run hotel in a side street of Florence next to the Santo Spiriti Church. The foundations of the building date from the eleventh century. Our rooms on the third floor were an addition from the middle 1400s. The walls were massive masonry and the floors a dark wood. Barb and I had a room with a window that looked out to the bell tower of the church. A real bell tower with brass bells.

We had been there two nights and each night I had complex, vivid dreams that I could not remember in the morning even though their strange moodiness lingered. On this morning, before the sun first brightened the sky, but where there was enough light to see the shapes of dressers and doors in the room, I woke to the presence of a woman draped in white cloth bending over me. As my eyes opened, she drifted off and away towards the closed and locked door to the hallway. Her gown and long hair flowed behind her as if she were caught in a wind. She did not look back at me and I could not make out the details of her face.

That evening I spoke to Doreen, the owner of the Albergo, about my early morning visitor. She looked perplexed and said to me: "No one else has ever mentioned seeing anything in that room. Was it a bad or frightening spirit?" "No, not at all. I have had those. A very bad one about 20 years ago."

"When we first opened our hotel, we had very low rates. Of course, it was shared baths. A young woman from South America stayed with us for three weeks. We had many long term boarders then. She told me that she felt a positive presence in the building. But I do not recall her saying that she saw anything. You know, this is a very old building. This whole part of town was just outside the original Roman wall. In the 1100s and 1200s this was a fashionable area for rich merchants. The base of this house dates to the 1000s, the same as the church. The first two floors, including this one, are from the Renaissance. So lots of people have lived and died here. For all its beauty that was a violent time. Who can say who your lady was?"

That night Barb said her back hurt and she was going to sleep on the floor. She laid out her blankets and a pillow and kissed me good night. This was not an uncommon event for Barb who prefers mattresses harder than anything I can sleep well on.

During the night, I felt her warm hands and feet touch me under the covers. She must have decided to return to bed. I mumbled at her and, without a word in response, she moved back to her own side.

When I woke with the first light, I reached over for her. Her side of the bed was empty. The blankets and sheets undisturbed. I leaned over the bed. Barb was asleep on the floor. Later I asked if she had come back to bed during the night.

No. I was very comfortable on the floor. My back feels much better this morning. Why do you ask?"

"No reason. Just curious."

That afternoon I insisted that we leave the Albergo and seek another place to stay. Frankly, I was afraid what my ghost lady would next do with me.