Hey Ghostbusters… there’s work for you! Jokes aside, a few steps away from Venice, there has been for centuries one of the most wretched and disturbing places in Italy: we’re talking about the island of Poveglia.
Scaredy cats that we are, we still haven’t set our feet on it, but let’s say we will be scheduling a tour in the upcoming months … when we gain more courage!
What has been lying for centuries behind this mysterious place? What is the story of this perfect horror movie location? We will soon reveal you all its secrets.
Poveglia Island: historical roots
First of all, a couple of historical and geographic facts: the island, as Wikipedia tells us, is located to the south of the Venetian coast, along the Orfano canal, in the lagoon stretch between the Serenissima and the port of Malamocco. Today it is an uninhabited island, abandoned to the erosion of the sea and to the nature that has taken over the ruins of the few remaining buildings.
Unavailable to tourists, this bewitched place has not always been wrapped up by oblivion: from 800 on, after the Venice Doge was killed by Pietro Tardonico, it became a sort of a reception center for the families of his 200 faithful servants.
In 1379, when war broke out between the two maritime republics of Genoa and Venice, thanks to its strategic position, Poveglia became a military outpost; all the civilians who lived there were therefore forced to abandon it. From that moment on, the island began to decline and had the most awkward and impressive functions.
Poveglia Island: from outpost to lazzaretto
And we arrive at the most terrible moment. In 1700, in Venice, the black plague broke out, a terrible disease that in the very beginning began to reap thousands of victims. The Magistrate of Health then disposed that all the corpses of the dead were carried on the island of Poveglia to be burned and buried in common trenches.
Subsequently, however, the measure extended to the infected: Poveglia became a quarantine site, where still living individuals were brought to die outside Venice. Men, women and children died slowly, consumed by the disease; in fact, their bodies are still lying under the ground.
Poveglia Island: from lazzaretto to asylum
We arrive in our time. How do you feel, did you faint? Stay with us for a moment, the best is yet to come!
While the most strange legends about the island’s evil aura matured, in 1922 a mysterious building was erectedwhose function is still wrapped in the shadows. What was this building?
Even though the archives tell us it was a quiet retirement home for the elderly, the sign which can still be read today on the entrance walls doesn’t lie: “psychiatric ward”.
The asylum was dismantled in 1946, but during the years of its activity there were many disturbing sightings and appearances.
Poveglia Island: legends
From the old registers and above all from the requests for transfers to other hospitals, it seems that the hospitalized patients were persecuted and tormented by the souls of those who died of plague. Being branded as mentally ill, their tales were never taken into account and indeed, they became probably a pretext for submitting them to sadistic sessions and experiments.
The legend continues and also engages its director, who had supposedly subjected his patients to the cruel practices of lobotomy, making holes in their skulls for “therapeutic” purposes. An evocative story ending with his death: like all the other patients, he was probably the victim of the restless spirits of the island that made him go crazy to such an extent that he committed suicide. One nurse told that his death was not caused by the fall, but by a misty cloud propagated from the ground that would have choked him.
Poveglia Island: Strange Presences
The abandonment of the asylum marks the end of the island’s “official” story. Since then, it has remained uninhabited and all those who went to visit it came back with frightening testimonies of rumors, lamentations, and strange appearances. A wealthy family who decided to buy it in the 1960s preferred to leave the site because they were terrified by the spirits of the lepers. Even the team of parapsychologists from the TV series “Ghost Adventures” shot an episode on the island of Poveglia to investigate all the mysteries that surround this damned place.
So many questions arise, fueling the story of one of the most terrifying places on the Peninsula. Why did the archives make it seem a quiet retirement for the elderly for years? And, more importantly, what is hidden under Poveglia’s ground?
So, folks, hoping to have aroused your curiosity (and anxiousness) we leave you with so many open questions which you can solve, why not, by organizing a tour in this spooky place!
If you liked this article, you will shudder reading this on all the mysteries of the lagoon: