It’s Halloween, so it’s time to delve into ghoulish stories, if you dare…
Between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon lies Poveglia, thought to be the most haunted place in Italy.
For centuries this island has been a place of refuge, exile and a dumping ground for the diseased, dying and deceased. In 421, Poveglia took on its first inhabitants including men, women and children who fled the barbaric invaders that had ravaged the mainland. For centuries this small community lived in peace and avoided the laws and taxes of the mainland; its relatively small size made the island defendable and not worth the trouble of invading armies. The population decreased by the 14th century and the island was once again abandoned.
In 1348 the island became a quarantine colony due to the Bubonic Plague which hit Venice and Poveglia, in 1348. Fearing the spread disease, Venice exiled many of its citizens that were showing signs of symptoms, this was a clear death sentence. At the island’s center the dead and those too sick to protest were burned on giant pyres. These fires burned once again in 1630 when the Black Death again affected the city.
According to local legend, 50% of the soil is human ash; made up of the remains of plague victims who died there. Today, local fishermen give the island a wide berth for fear of netting the bones of ancestors. The psychiatrist who ran the mental hospital was a butcher and torturer who went mad from guilt and threw himself off the island’s bell tower, he survived the fall but then died, many believed that he was strangled by a “ghostly mist” that emerged from the ground.
Later on, between 1922 and 1968 the island was also home to a hospital for the elderly and mentally ill. The hospital director was notoriously cruel and was rumoured to have performed horrific experiments on the patients. He is said to have performed on patients with tools such as hand drills, chisels and hammers, he would kill the patients in the process. The locals believe the island to be cursed by the tortured souls who once lived there, while the hospital director is said to have killed himself after being driven mad by the ghosts of his victims.
Today, the entire island has been left abandoned; locals and tourists are prohibited from visiting. In recent years, Italian construction crews attempted to restore the previous hospital building, but suddenly stopped without any explanation, leaving locals to speculate that they were driven away by the island’s dark forces, would you dare to visit this ‘haunted’ island?