The Munaciello. A legendary spirit of Naples folklore


The munaciello (little monk) is a legendary spirit that seems to have belonged to a deformed young boy, dressed with a cowl and shoes with silver buckles. It is said that this spirit can be nice and hide money somewhere in people’s houses or play harmless jokes which can be codified in numbers to be played at the lottery; he can also be unpleasant and hide objects, break plates and tableware, blow in sleeping people’s ears; he also likes expressing positive remarks about beautiful women. The writer Antonio Emanuele Piedimonte dedicates an interesting chapter of his book "Napoli segreta" to all the munaciello’s possible definitions. He starts with those given by the Grande Enciclopedia dei Folletti: 

"The Neapolitan Monacello or Manchetto, the Sicilian Mammucca, the Monachicchio from Basilicata and the Monacheddu from Calabria all have only one thing in common with real monks: the cowl; they are all well-known swaggerers, thieves, rascals, bottom-pinchers, who terrify convents and annoy nuns from the early morning during their prayers and especially at night".

From: Armando Rotondi "Legends and ghost stories in Naples between two centuries: Matilde Serao, Roberto Bracco and Benedetto Croce"