'Ghostbusters' called as Italy’s last King spotted

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King Umberto II. Photo: Wikicommons
13:27 CET+01:00
He was forced into exile in 1946 after Italy abolished the monarchy and died in 1983, but the ghost of King Umberto II is said to linger in the Piedmont city of Asti.

There have been four reported sightings of the ghost of Italy’s last monarch since 2011 and some residents are convinced he has made a date in his calendar for the next appearance: June 13th, the day the King was forced into exile after just a few weeks on the throne.

Witnesses have described the figure in the apparitions as seemingly “elegant and educated”. Just like a King, in fact.

After the most recent sighting earlier this month, city officials called in the ghost-busting team at National Ghost Undercover, a company based in the Emilia-Romagna town of Riccione.

Led by Massimo Merendi, the team – dressed in white overalls - got to work on Wednesday, carrying out surveys in the area the ghost was seen, La Stampa reported.

The results are “top secret”, but Merendi shed some light on what they were looking for.

The common denominator in all four sightings is that King Umberto II appeared “dressed in civilian clothes”, either in or near Asti’s City Hall on Piazza San Secondo, and at around 8pm each time.

One of the witnesses, a council worker, claimed she saw the King in the building's entrance hall in 2011.

“The witness referred to Umberto of Savoy, who introduced himself as the Prince of Naples, a title that belonged to his father,” Merendi told La Stampa.

“He was described as an imposing figure, ‘more than natural’. He asked for information about a family that once owned a building on the nearby Vittorio Alfieri street.”

The King was next seen in 2012, by the wife of a local councillor.

The most recent sightings occurred on September 4th, by a shopkeeper and his friend, and in early November, when a council worker claimed she had a conversation with him in an office at City Hall.

King Umberto II came to the throne in May 1946 after his father, King Vittorio Emanuele III, believed the only way to save the monarchy was to abdicate in favour of his son.

But his reign only lasted a few weeks after Italians voted to abolish the monarchy, leading him to become known as ‘the King of May’.

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He spent most of his years in exile in Portugal, before dying in Switzerland in March 1983.

It is unclear how exactly the ghost-busters operate to detect eerie goings-on, but Merendi has asked for cameras to be installed at City Hall in an attempt to try and capture King Umberto II's next appearance on film.

The ghost-busting team is kept busy in Italy: the company has 1,860 reports of ghostly sightings on its books, with many linked to prominent historical figures.

The ghost of Federico II di Svevia, the King of Sicily between 1198 and 1250, was reportedly seen in the Puglia city of Bari in 2012, while Francesco Morosini, the Doge of Venice from 1688 to 1694, has also been spotted.

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