On the corner of Via XX Settembre and Via Vittorio Alfieri in Turin lies a door with a malevolent reputation. The elaborately decorated portal might not seem to be all that scary at first glance. Flowers, fruits, and chubby cherubim adorn many of the panels. A few less cheerful adult faces stare forebodingly from the side panels, but grumpy carved heads are not uncommon in Europe. The most well-known feature is its disturbing knocker, which features two serpents coiled around each other, emanating straight from the mouth of Satan. This is what gives the door its ominous name: Portone del Diavolo, or the Devil’s Door.
This devilish door opens the Palazzo Trucchi di Levaldigi. It was designed by Pietro Danesi in 1675 and built in Paris. It was commissioned by Giovanni Battista Trucchi di Levaldigi, who was at the time the Count and General of Finance. It’s hard to say why such an important government minister would want a door with such demonic influences. Some say that earlier in the 17th century, the building was home to a tarot factory. The devil is associated with the #15 tarot card, and at the time the building was #15 on its street. The #15 tram line also passes by there. Coincidence?
The door is shrouded in legend, with numerous reports of supernatural activity. In just one example, a ballerina is said to have performed in the Palazzo in 1790, but fallen dead in front of the crowd. She had been stabbed by an invisible force, with no murder weapon to be found. Later, a painting appeared, showing the ballerina dancing over the flames of hell. Neither this painting, nor any evidence of this incident, has been proven to exist at all.
In reality, if you open the door, you will not find ghosts, or sorcerers of dark magic, or the fires of hell. These days, the building is occupied by a branch of one of Italy’s largest banks—a more or less odious destination, depending on your business there.