Striga Italian Folklore: Enigmatic Witch Tales

Written By Jason Kim

Writing stories of mythical proportions.

In Italian folklore, the striga is an enigmatic witch. She is said to have supernatural abilities. Legend tells of her vampiric nature, sucking the blood of babies by night.

It’s believed she can also turn into a flying insect. Those drained by her can only be healed by the striga herself.

Shtriga is the name given to witches in general by the Italians. This shows how deeply the belief in the striga is rooted in Italian culture. It has been an essential part of their stories for many, many years.

Key Takeaways:

  • Striga is an enigmatic witch in Italian folklore with supernatural powers.
  • Legend has it that striga is a vampiric witch who drains the blood of infants at night.
  • The term “shtriga” is used to refer to witches in general in Italian culture.
  • The belief in striga has been passed down through generations in Italy.
  • Striga is deeply ingrained in Italian culture and mythology.

Origins of the Striga Myth

The striga, a mysterious witch, has intrigued people for ages through Italian tales. But where does the story of the striga come from? We will look into the roots of the word “shtriga” and its ties to Latin. We’ll also check out how this connects with words in Italian, Romanian, and Polish.

The word “shtriga” comes from the Latin “strīga,” which means “evil spirit” or “witch.” This word gives us the idea of the striga as a mythical creature. She has powers to drain blood and change form, making her a powerful character in stories and legends.

Interestingly, “shtriga” isn’t just found in Italy. It has similar forms in other languages. For example, there’s “strega” in Italian, “strigă” in Romanian, and “strzyga” in Polish. This shows how the story of the striga has spread into different cultures.

Etymology of the term “shtriga”

“Shtriga” comes from the Latin word “strīga,” which means “evil spirit” or “witch.”

Connection to Latin strīga

With its Latin connection, the idea of the striga as a supernatural being dates back to ancient tales.

Related terms in Italian, Romanian, and Polish

  • Italian: strega
  • Romanian: strigă
  • Polish: strzyga

These terms show how much the striga myth matters across various cultures. The striga represents people’s long-standing interest in beings with spooky powers.

Next, we’ll look at what the striga was believed to look like and what powers she had. This will help us understand more about this interesting character in Italian myths.

Description and Powers of the Striga

In Italian folklore, the striga stands out as a mystifying witch with unique abilities. She’s known as an old or middle-aged woman with odd physical traits. Her eyes, in grey, pale green, or blue, are considered captivating and eerie. A crooked nose adds to her scary look.

The striga’s most horrifying ability is to suck the blood of babies, making them weak. She does this at night, terrifiying parents. She can also change into a flying bug, moving quickly and unseen.

Another scary skill is her evil eye. It’s said to bring bad luck, sickness, or death when she looks at someone. This makes eye contact a dangerous thing.

So, people have looked for ways to protect themselves from the striga. They use things like salt, garlic, and puppets to keep her away. Some believe religious verses can create a shield against her evil.

These methods offer comfort to those afraid of the striga. Yet, her supernatural abilities and dark presence keep her a mystery in Italian tales.

Striga in Folklore and Popular Culture

In Italian folklore, the striga is a key figure. It has shown up in many stories, books, and forms of entertainment. This witch’s character has sparked the interest of people worldwide, making a lasting impact.

The Albanian tales paint the striga as a dangerous witch. Her powers are known to cause trouble and fear among people.

“Beware the striga, a powerful witch who strikes fear into the hearts of all who encounter her,” warns an old Albanian folktale.

The striga has moved beyond folklore into our modern entertainment. For instance, in the show Supernatural, it pretends to be a doctor to harm children. This depiction shows its power to scare and intrigue viewers.

And in the series Lost Girl, a striga puts the main character into a coma with just a bite. Here, the striga’s role is to add mystery and excitement to the plot.

Its presence in various storytellings has kept the striga myth alive. It’s clear that people are still drawn to this character from Italian folklore.

striga in popular culture

Other Witch Figures in Italian Folklore

Aside from the striga, Italian folklore features many other captivating witches. They add unique stories and enchantment to the world of Italian witchcraft.

The Benandanti

The Benandanti were farmers from northern Italy. They thought they fought evil witches in dreams to help crops and animals grow. They believed they changed into animals at night to win these battles. Their goal was to protect their village and make sure they had good harvests.

The Gazarii

The Gazarii were witches mentioned in a document about witch errors in the mid-1400s. Not much is known about them, but being in this document shows their importance in Italian witch folklore of the time.

The Lamia

Lamia witches were feared for their looks and acts. They were thought to have hooves like horses. Known for seducing men and stealing their life, they were feared and their stories warned people.

The Malefica

The Malefica learned dark magic from demons. These evil witches were feared for their harmful intentions. They reminded people about the dangers of dark magic.

Sea Witches

In Italy’s coastal regions, sea witches could curse ships. They were believed to control the sea and weather. Sailors both feared and respected them for their powers.

Italian witch folklore is rich with a wide range of beliefs and stories. The Benandanti’s spiritual battles and the Lamia’s seductive danger add variety. This demonstrates the ongoing interest in Italian witch tales.

a witch figure in Italian folklore

Other Witch Figures in Italian Folklore

Witch Figure Description
Benandanti Members of an agrarian cult who battled evil witches for crop and livestock fertility.
Gazarii Witches mentioned in a fifteenth-century treatise on witchcraft errors.
Lamia Witches associated with demons and succubi, known for having horse’s hooves.
Malefica Witches taught by demons, known for their malevolent intent.
Sea Witches Witches who lurked along the coast and cursed ships, believed to possess control over the sea.


Italian witch folklore, like the legend of the striga, has fascinated people for years. These supernatural stories are deeply part of Italian culture and are still shared today. They show how important these witch tales are to Italian myths and stories.

The stories about figures like the striga show us Italy’s deep mythic world. They are not just for fun but also give clues about Italy’s fears, beliefs, and values. Even today, people love these tales because they touch something common in all of us, no matter where we’re from.

These stories often tell of frightening events, like the striga drinking infant’s blood. They keep us hooked, making us want to know more about myths and the unknown. The tales also show us the magic of storytelling, bringing us together by sharing stories that everyone can enjoy.


What is a striga in Italian folklore?

In Italian folklore, a striga is a mysterious witch with strong powers. She’s thought to be a witch-vampire who drinks infants’ blood at night. She can also change into a flying insect.

What is the origin of the striga myth?

The word “shtriga” comes from Latin, meaning an evil spirit or witch. It’s linked to terms in Italian, Romanian, and Polish. These names refer to a supernatural being that has the power to suck blood and transform. This belief is from ancient stories.

How is the striga described and what powers does she possess?

The striga is described as an older or middle-aged woman. She has odd-colored eyes and a bent nose. Known for her angry look and scary face, she’s said to drain infants’ blood.She can turn into a flying bug. She also has the power of the evil eye. This can hurt people who she looks at. People protect themselves with salt, garlic, puppets, or by saying special religious words.

Where else can we find mentions of the striga in folklore or popular culture?

The striga appears in tales, books, and TV. Albanian stories show her as a scary witch. In shows like Supernatural and Lost Girl, she’s a dangerous beast that goes after kids. These stories in folklore and media keep the striga’s story alive and interesting worldwide.

Are there any other witch figures in Italian folklore?

Yes, many witch figures are part of Italian stories. For example, the benandanti fought witches for crop and animal health. The gazarii were witches in fifteenth-century texts about witch mistakes.The lamia, with demonic features, were thought to have horse hooves. Maleficas were witches who learned from demons. Sea witches cursed ships. This shows the varied and rich witch tales in Italian folklore.

What is the significance of these witch legends in Italian culture?

Italian witch tales, including the striga’s, have interested people for a long time. The stories about supernatural witches have become deeply part of the culture. They are shared in stories and folklore, showing their importance to Italian mythology and storytelling. The striga and other witches offer a window into Italy’s diverse and magical mythological world.

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