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Eli Roth on Ghost-Proofing His (Maybe) Haunted Italian Villa: ‘It’s Like Living in ‘Game of Thrones’

Horror filmmaker calls home a 13th-century villa once occupied by the Knights Templar

Horror film master Eli Roth is wondering if he’s tempting fate these days, as he is stepping out of the proverbial frying pan and right into the fire, moving into a 13th-century villa in Florence, Italy, that was once owned by the Knights Templar… and where things mysterious move on their own.

Best known for scaring the bejeebers out of audiences with horror films like “Hostel” and “Knock Knock,” and now telling spine-chilling tales of ghosts and evil spirits with the discovery+ series “Eli Roth Presents: A Ghost Ruined My Life” and “The Haunted Museum,” Roth told TheWrap that he’s just waiting for doors to open and bang closed when no one is in sight.

“I don’t know if I’m pushing my luck here, I just moved into a 13th-century villa in Florence. And my wife was like, ‘We have to sage the house now,'” he said.

“Saging” (or “smudging”) is a Native American ceremony to, basically, rid bad energy. With a bouquet of dried white sage lit and then the flame extinguished, the person performing the ritual moves from room to room with the smoldering herb, waving the smoke into every corner. The sage is said to replace negative energy with only positive.

“After having made ‘Ghosts Ruined My Life,’ where we saged the crew and they saged the energy, I was like, I have to do this because there’s a heavy energy down in that cellar. And I don’t know what went on there,” he said of his new home. “I mean, the Templars owned it and then it was a monastery and there’s underground tunnels that lead to the village. I love it! It’s so cool! It’s like living in ‘Game of Thrones.'”

He added, “My wife wouldn’t move into the house until we saged it. And it took three or four sagings of that basement to get it clean because you could just– I’m like, maybe I’m making this up and I’m waiting for something to happen.”

There are some weird things that have happened that had him questioning what those walls witnessed during those 700 years.

“I had done a report on the Templars when I was in college, and I was looking at my office and I looked, there was a symbol that was on the wall in the bricks, and I looked it up and it was a Templar symbol,” Roth said. “And then I looked at the history of the Templars and the village and what the villa was. And then it had been a monastery for a long time. I mean, there’s a lot that went on there. It’s a lot of history.”

“Sometimes things move in the kitchen and drop and fall off shelves. But whenever that happens, I just break out the sage and I sage it. Like, I don’t even mess with it. I don’t go, ‘Oh, we have a ghost. What do we do?’ I go, ‘OK, something’s in here. I need to deal with it.’ You light the sage and you go around with your intentions, and whether or not it works or whether or not I just feel better,” he said.

They now keep sage all over the house. “It’s not really bothering me, but being in these old houses, from something that’s built in the 1300s, of course, it’s going to have energy in it,” he said. “I want to believe in it. I don’t, you know, walk around [and say], ‘That was a ghost.’ But I’m certainly open to anything.”