Why Italian hotels don’t have a Room 17 (or a 17th floor). Mere heptadecaphobia!

SeventeenContinuing my series of Blogs Revisited, stories from the past unearthed during my recent clear out, I thought it was appropriate to republish this one today, 17 February:

Have you ever noticed that Italian hotels never have a 17th floor. (Yes, I know, most of them don’t go that high, but when they do, they don’t, if you see what I mean.) Apparently, Italians dislike the number so much that in some tall hotels the floors go from 16 to 18. And you’ll be pushed to find a Room 17 in many hotels, too. You might call it heptadecaphobia

The reason? I am grateful to an article in The Florentine, Florence’s English-language newspaper, for explaining. “When written, the 1 mimics a hanged man and the 7 a gallows. Furthermore, 17’s rearranged Latin numerals spell “VIXI.” Often engraved on headstones, the word means “He lived” and thus tempts death to make that statement true of you.” (I agree, I’d much be VIVIT, which means “He is alive” and sounds like an acronym for living in Italy. This man closed his shop on Friday the Seventeenth. The sign says “Closed for Good Luck.”)Seventeen closed for good luck While 17 sends shivers down Italian spines, they rather like 13. It’s associated with the old pagan Great Goddess and with lunar cycles and fertility. 13 will bring you life and prosperity. The Italians think that’s good news, even though 13 sat down to the Last Supper. This is Ghirlandaio’s version in the Florence cloister of Ognissanti Ghirlandaio last supper ognissanti  

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