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Ghost of Mastro Titta
22 July 2016

The ghost of Mastro Titta, the Executioner of Rome

The name of Mastro Titta evokes the most musical comedy Rugantino, where the Executioner of Rome Mastro Titta is forced in the end to execute his friend Rugantino.

But the character is really existed, and between 1796 and 1864 executed 816 sentenced to death by the Papal State, within which, at the Borgo, in Vicolo del Campanile 2, lived Giovanni Battista Bugatti, said Mastro Titta, than in the rest time was selling and repairing umbrellas.
The executions did not take place in the Vatican, but beyond the left bank of the Tiber, in the historic centre of the city, in Piazza del Popolo, in Campo de' Fiori and Piazza del Velabro. So when an execution was scheduled, the Executioner had to cross the Tiber from Ponte Sant'Angelo. And when he did, it was a sign that he was going to "work". For this reason the Romans did not take kindly, forbidding, in the days in which there were no executions, to across the bridge.

The nickname given to the Bugatti was later extended to his successors, so the term "Mastro Titta" is synonymous with "Executioner". He died at age 90, with a monthly of 30 crowns assigned by Pope Pius IX.

And legend says that today, if at first light you are in Piazza del Popolo and Castel Sant'Angelo or Borgo, and if you meet a strange man with a scarlet cloak, which could offer tobacco...reject it, because it is Mastro Titta, and offers tobacco to the sentenced to death, before decapitating ...as he did during his life...

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