Poveglia the most haunted island in Italy
Italy is known all over the world for its artistic, historical and landscape beauties. Venice, then, is considered one of the most romantic cities in the world.
Yet there is no shortage among its streets and buildings mysteries and secrets that make you shiver: one of the scariest and, they say, the haunted place is a few kilometers from Piazza San Marco.
It is Poveglia island, located in the south, facing Malamocco along the Orfano Canal.
After the Lombard invasion of the VI century AD and the destruction of cities like Padua and Este, the island became one of the centers of resettlement of fleeing populations, saw the construction of a castle and contributed (809-810 AD) to the resistance of Metamauco, ancient capital of the duchy of Venice besieged by the Franks.
Centuries later, the island is said to have been the last resting place of the famous painter Giorgione, who died in 1510.
In the eighteenth century, Poveglia became a lazaretto
Devastated during the war between Venice and Chioggia (1378-1381), it saw its population shrink, between deaths and transferred to Venice, from some thousand to a few dozen people. Towards the end of the 1700s, Poveglia began to act also as a lazaretto (called “very new”, to distinguish it from the previous Old Lazaretto and New Lazaretto), hosting infected that once dead were burned and buried, hundreds, on the island itself.
”Ne fodias vita functi contagio requescunt MDCCXCIII” (“Do not dig the dead by contagion in life (who here) lay, 1793”).
Disturbing stories about the Poveglia asylum
It became a marine quarantine station from 1814 and was the seat of a psychiatric hospital, between 1922 and 1946, and of a geriatric one between 1947 and 1968, before being sold to the state property in 1968 when the latter structure closed its doors forever.
Precisely on the work of these hospitals are told for some time disturbing stories, like that of a supervisor of the psychiatry department who would torture and conduct brutal experiments on patients, and then go crazy for guilt and throw themselves from the bell tower of the ancient parish church of San Vitale (saved from destruction during the Napoleonic era it used as a lighthouse), but survived the fall just to be strangled by one “spooky fog” that would have emerged from the ground.
His ghost would have been seen wandering through the now deserted corridors of the asylum by some curious people who have explored the island in recent decades.
Needless to try to find documentary testimonies of these stories, certainly many Venetian fishermen avoid to pass in his vicinity for fear that the nets can get caught in the bones of some dead.
American tourists found in shock
If you think that Poveglia is just a desert island looking decadent but not so scary, know that in July 2016 the newspapers reported a somewhat obscure episode.
Five young American tourists from Colorado, conducted on the island by a water taxi(the ride from Venice costs about 200 euros), stayed there with the idea of conducting a nocturnal exploration.
It is not clear what they saw or believed to see or hear, but during the night they began to scream to attract the attention of a boat that was passing near.
Eventually, the fire brigade had to intervene and brought the unfortunates back to the ground, in an evident state of shock.