POVEGLIA WAS CONSTRUCTED ON Apermanent fortification built by the Venetian government and from 1793-1814 was used as a plague quarantine station, or“lazaretto”—one of many in the Venetian lagoon.
The tiny island is said to have hosted over 160,000 infected souls living out their final days and hours there—so many that there are whispers that 50 percent of the soil consists of human remains. Recently, mass graves have been found on thenearby islands of Lazaretto NuovoandLazzaretto Vecchiocontaining the remains of thousands of plague victims. Poveglia has yet to be fully investigated.
In 1922, a mental hospital was opened on Poveglia. Local legend says that one doctor at the hospital tortured and killed many of his patients, butchering them horribly, only to later die by falling from, or possibly being thrown off of, its bell tower. The hospital closed in 1968, and the ruins are still there, slowly being reclaimed by greenery. While it is professed to be a former retirement home, evidence that it housed mental patients is still evident.
With a past like this, it’s not surprising that Poveglia is believed to be haunted, attracting the attention of ghost hunters and paranoidmal investigators.
Elsewhere in the lagoon, the remains of theInsane Asylum on San Servolo Islandare preserved as a museum dedicated to the history ofVenice’s plague islands and asylums.Poveglia remains for now strictly off-limits to visitors.
Let me know if you have experienced something like this!