The strange case of the teleporting Pansini Brothers continues to be one of the most baffling cases of the supernatural occurrences. In 1901, a lowly mason and architect by the name of Signor Mauro Pansini and his family relocated to the small town of Ruvo di Puglia in the Bari region of southern Italy.
Having the opportunity to reside in their humble home close to the Palazzo Municipale may have felt like a dream come true to them at the time. When the family moved in, they immediately began restoration work on the charming, ancient property. However, after a few days of moving in, their dream home turned into a nightmare, and the entire experience spiraled into an account of poltergeist activity, weird occurrences, and teleportation.
It all started with things appearing to be moved around and misplaced, and no one was able to figure out how or why this was happening. This could have been dismissed as simple amnesia, but then they began to observe objects and furniture move on their own, and the intensity of the phenomenon only grew stronger and more frequent. Things started launching from their resting places and flying across rooms and smashing against walls as the days progressed, and it was not uncommon to find household goods that had been twisted and destroyed, seemingly out of a fit of wrath.
Even enormous, heavy pieces of furniture were overturned or thrown into the air on a few instances, and it appeared to them that they were being haunted by some very vicious and destructive ghosts from beyond the grave. The family made the decision to organise a séance in order to attempt to interact with the spirits that were tormenting them, which appears to have only exacerbated the situation, at least in the short term. Soon after this séance, the paranormal activity grew even more intense and terrible, to the point where Mauro began to suspect that it was not ghosts after all, but demons who were at work.
Things became more worse when one of their boys, 7-year-old Alfredo, suddenly went into a deep trance and began speaking in languages he had no knowledge of, such as French, Latin, and Greek, using what was characterised as “a peculiar voice, like an orator,” according to his mother.
He would jolt out of it with no recollection of what had happened, and from then on, the trances would get more common and weird, as well as more frequent and bizarre. The spirits would bring them everything they needed, and sure enough, food would materialise on their table or in their cupboard as if out of thin air, frequently right before their very eyes, while they were in these trances.
The explanation given by Alfredo was that he had driven away the evil spirits from his home, and that they had been replaced with good spirits in their place. According to a report in the journal Giornale d’Italia, it is as follows:
“One evening the little Alfredo Paoli, aged seven years, while the rest of the family were present, fell into a state of sleep and began to speak in a voice which was not his own, saying that he had been sent by God for the purpose of driving away the evil spirits, and it seemed for a while as if a better class of spirits had come, for now there were all kinds of sweets, candy, and chocolate, brought to them by the invisibles, and one night the little boy, while in a state of trance, described a battle taking place between the good and the bad ghosts. Next the boy began to walk mechanically and answer questions concerning things which he could not know. They took the boy to church. There he became as insensible as a corpse, but woke up as the bishop called his name. He remained with the bishop for several days, and then returned to his parents.”
Alfredo would continue to be surrounded by trances and unusual events, and no one was able to figure out what was going on with him. In the end, Alfredo’s family came to the conclusion that their son was being possessed and chose to have him sent to a seminary school in a church for the sake of his own protection, where he would spend the next three years. It is said that during this time, the phenomena and possessions were completely stopped, and life returned to some semblance of normalcy.
However, as soon as Alfredo returned, the strange incidents began all over again with the same intensity as before, and not only that, but Alfredo’s younger brother Paulo would also begin to experience the mysterious trances as well as Alfredo. Both the Pansini brothers were experiencing intense incidents which were terrifying for the other family members.
Finally, the strangest of all occurrences occurred while the mother was debating what to do with a Bishop while the Pansini brothers remained in their room, but when they went to visit them, they were no longer there. They were perplexed as to how the boys had managed to escape without their knowledge until they received a phone call from a neighbour who informed them that the boys were wandering around several miles away. Their enraged father confined them in their room, believing that they had defied the order to stay in their room and crept out.
However, the Pansini brothers managed to escape once more, and this time they were at their uncle’s house hundreds of miles away in what appeared to be an instant. On another occasion, they vanished into thin air as soon as they stepped out of a moving carriage, only to be discovered at their planned location as soon as the vehicle stopped moving. It was reported in the Giornale d’Italia that these incidents of what appeared to be teleportation were continuing, and that the phenomenon was explained as follows:
One day the lad Alfredo, with his brother Paolo, aged eight years, were at Ruvo at 9 a.m., and at 9:30 they were found at the Capucine convent at Malfatti (some thirty miles away). Another day the whole family were sitting at the breakfast table at 12:30 p.m., and as there was no wine the little Paolo was sent for it. He did not return, and half an hour afterwards Alfredo suddenly disappeared, and at 1 p.m. both boys were found in a fishing boat on the sea not far from the port of Barlatta. They began to cry, and the fisherman, being himself frightened almost out of his wits by their sudden appearance, took them ashore, where by good fortune they found a coachman who knew them and took them home, where after a rapid drive of half-an-hour they arrived at 3:30. In this way they were spirited away on other occasions to Bisceglie, Giovinazzi, Mariotti, and Ferlizzi (the distance of which places from Ruvo may be seen on the map) and brought back to their parents in the ordinary way.
In every instance, the children were discovered in “a state of profound hypnosis,” with no recollection of what had happened in their lives. Those bizarre teleportation incidents were explored by Joseph Lapponi, a medical advisor to Popes Leo XIII and Pius X who set up an experiment to test the claims made by those who claimed to have teleported. In his defence, he claimed to have locked the boys in their room and sealed off all escape routes, including windows and other doors within the house.
Nonetheless, the youngsters vanished and reappeared instantly several miles away, right in front of everyone’s eyes. Other scientists and doctors investigated the youngsters as well, but were unable to come up with a logical explanation. It wasn’t long before the bizarre storey was all over the news and being talked about all over Italy, with speculation rife as to what could be causing these strange powers to manifest themselves.
Everything from witches to the Devil, portals to the afterlife, and mental powers were discussed, but according to a spirit who claimed to be speaking through Alfredo during one of his trances, it was the spirits who were dematerializing them in one location and rematerializing them in another, just as they had done with the food on the table.
However, some people were skeptical of this explanation, believing it was simply “ambulatory automatism,” in which a person would go into a state similar to sleepwalking and feel compelled to walk around without realizing it. However, others disagreed with this conclusion, believing it was something more sinister. According to a report published in the Annals of Psychical Science, it is as follows:
“With regard to the mysterious disappearance of the two brothers Pansini, and their almost instantaneous appearance in another locality, the hypothesis most easily accepted by the Italian savants who have looked into the matter, is that it is a case of ambulatory automatism; it is known that subjects affected with this nervous disease feel an irresistible impulse to move about and then fall into the second state; when they return to their normal state they have forgotten all about it. Dr. Petrus, writing in the Secolo, of Milan, does not exclude the hypothesis that the two boys, in a state of muscular hyperasthesia, might traverse, walk, or even run, distances of thirty, forty, ﬁfty, even up to ninety kilométres without resting. Nevertheless he asks how they could possibly walk or run fourteen kilometres (nine miles) in half an hour. Besides, he adds, how is it that these two lads, in their precipitate peregrinations, have never attracted the attention of passersby, when the main roads of those districts are always frequented by numerous carts and persons on foot?”
This also does not account for any of the poltergeist activity that surrounds the entire incident. Meanwhile, the Pansini brothers performed innumerable disappearing acts, frequently reappear kilometers away instantly, frequently out of locked doors or even in front of witnesses, creating astonishment, fascination, and even dread wherever they went.
This continued for years until the boys entered adolescence, at which point the events ceased and they appeared to have lost their abilities. The case has gotten a lot of attention, but it’s difficult to tell how much of it actually happened or what was going on here. What became of this family, and what did the haunting and possessions mean?
Could these two lads truly perform the feats ascribed to them, teleporting around in the blink of an eye? Is there a rational explanation for this, or is it all an illustration of unfathomable powers? There is no way to know for certain, and the Pansini brothers’ claim remains one of the most bizarre accounts of alleged human teleportation.