Clothes and axe belonging to Mastro Titta, Rome’s most famous executioner
Giovanni Battista Bugatti (mostly known as Mastro Titta) is one of Rome’s most iconic figures. He was the longest serving executioner for the Papal States, operating between 1796 and 1864.
During his career he carried out 514 executions, all recorded on his personal notepad which still exists today.
Mastro Titta was strongly disliked by fellow Romans and his movements were also restricted: he lived on the west bank of the Tiber river, in the Borgo borough, however he was not allowed to cross to the other side, unless an execution had to be carried out. This was justified as a safety measure to protect him from relatives of the people he had executed, who might have taken revenge on him.
Executions were very popular in Rome during those times: mothers would often take their male children to show them every detail of the ceremony. They would always slap their children right at the time when the axe fell down on the executed, as a warning against not respecting the law and the authority.