Turin is one of Italy’s main cities: while not the largest metropolitan area in the country, it certainly played and continues to play a very important role in local lore and culture. The area has undergone many changes through the past centuries, and this is the reason why it is possible to come across some truly interesting abandoned buildings, especially homes and villas. Such is the case of Villa Imperiali Becker in Italy. The building dates back to the 1600s, and it is located in the Collina neighborhood of the city. This abandoned villa is quite well-known among the citizens of Turin, so much so that locals bestowed many nicknames upon this place. Some refer to it as “Villa of the Oracle,” while others mentioned it as “Villa of the Catacombs,” particularly due to the fact that Dario Argento used the rundown building as a set for his movie “La Terza Madre” (for the movie buffs out there, this is the third chapter of the now-iconic “Suspiria” trilogy!)
The majority of people know the place as Villa Becker, named after Sir Walter Friederich Becker and his family, who moved to Italy from abroad. Becker was an incredibly successful diplomat and businessman. He had a particular fondness for this 1600s villa and its rich history. Not much is known about this particular building, other than the fact that it was probably completed in 1603 and commissioned by Ludovico San Martino d’Agliè, who lived in the home throughout most of his life. Eventually, the building passed on to his ancestors and became a well-known city sample. It was even described in one of the very first “guide books,” with a focus on the stunning villas and vineyards that the Turin area had to offer. The publication dates back to 1791, and it was one of the first of its kind in the area, denoting a growing interest in traveling and getting to know more about a new place.
Becker, who acquired the villa in 1902, made many changes, aided by world-famous architect Pietro Fenoglio, who was hired to renovate and rebuild parts of the home. The villa was supposedly incredibly beautiful, with many people from the town and elsewhere admiring its architecture and surroundings. Even famed author David Herbert Lawrence was so impressed with the villa that he even based some of the settings of his famous novel “Aaron’s Rod” on Villa Becker and its owners.
Following the passing of Walter Becker, the villa passed on to a new owner: Demetrio Imperial, Marquise of Francavilla. Their daughter, Katie Boyle, went on to become an author, who also described the villa in her notable autobiography, “What this Katie did.”
The villa experienced many years of abandonment and disrepair. The area around the building, fairly rundown as well, became overgrown with vegetation, which is almost hiding parts of the building. Back in its former glory days, this villa was a place where the creme de la creme of local socialites would do anything to get in and join one of the many parties and soirees. Many important and famous people have visited the place, which is now in complete disrepair. Most of the furniture is gone, save for some rotten old chairs and signs of destruction and vandalism. The seemingly sudden twist of fate and the fall of such a seemingly untouchable building is often a topic of mysterious fascination for locals and visitors alike.
**UPDATE** Unfortunately, very recently the villa has caught fire and has been heavily damaged.