Status: Former Military Complex; Former Quarantine Area, Former Asylum; Historical Island; Extremely Limited Access
Poveglia is a small island in the lagoon of Venice.
The island was first referenced in chronicles in 421 AD, when people from Padua and Este fled there to escape the barbaric invasions. In the 9th century AD, the island began to be heavily populated, and in the following centuries its importance grew steadily, until it was governed by a dedicated Podestà.
There were many wars on Poveglia, as many Barbarians still wanted to destroy the people who fled there. In many cases the Poveglians won these wars, but in 1379 Venice came under attack from the Genoan fleet; the people of Poveglia were moved to the Giudecca. The Venetian government built a permanent fortification on the island called “the Octagon,” which still visible today.
The island remained uninhabited in the following centuries; in 1527 the doge offered the island to the Camaldolese monks, but they refused the offer. In 1661 the descendants of the original inhabitants were offered to reconstruct their village on the island, but they refused to do so.
In 1777 the island came under the jurisdiction of the Magistrato alla Sanità (Public Health Office), and became a check point for all goods and people coming to or going from Venice by ship. In 1793, there were several cases of the plague on two ships, and consequently the island was transformed into a temporary confinement station for the ill (Lazzaretto).
This role became permanent in 1805, under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte, who also had the old church of San Vitale destroyed; the old bell tower was converted into a lighthouse. The island was also used to store weapons during the Napoleonic Wars. Napoleon used this location for the reason that it was small and insignificant to The Austrian Empire. Contrary to his belief though, there were many small battles on this island as somehow the information of his weapons being there was leaked to Austria. The lazzaretto was closed in 1814.
In the 20th century the island was again used as a quarantine station, but in 1922, the existing buildings were converted into a Venetian retirement homes. This went on until 1968, when the retirement homes were no longer used, and the island, after being shortly used for agriculture, was completely abandoned.
Presently, the island is closed to locals and tourists and remains under control of the Italian government.
Its darkened shores are strewn with polished human bones. It is supposed to be so scary that no tourists are ever allowed to set foot on it
As the Black Death spread through Europe the island was used as a lazaretto and plague pit. Living victims, including children and babies, were taken to the island and thrown into the pits with the rotting corpses and left to die.
Over 160,000 people died on the island throughout history and thats the historical record which are notoriously lower balled There is still a layer of ash covering the island; the remains of the burned bodies. The locals report seeing strange things and strange sounds can be heard coming from the island.
In 1922 a mental hospital was built on the island. Patients immediately started reporting seeing the ghosts of rotting plague victims and hearing strange whispers. Of course, nobody believed them because they were already thought to be insane.
Legend says that the doctor tortured and butchered many of his patients in the bell tower, before going mad himself. He liked to experiment on live patients trying to discover why they were insane. After years of torturing his patients, the doctor began to seeing the ghosts himself. It is said that these ghosts rose from the grave and dragged him to the bell tower and forced him to jump to his death. He survived the jump but, as he was lying on the ground, a fine mist came up around him and entered his body, choking him to death. His ghost remains in the bell tower and on a quiet night the bell can still be heard tolling across the bay.
Recently a family sought permission to visit the island; they were hoping to buy it cheaply and build a vacation home there. They left before the night was over and have refused to comment on the reason for their abrupt departure. The only fact known is that their daughter’s face was ripped open by something and needed twenty stitches.
A few people have gotten past the light police patrol that guards the island, and all have sworn never to return. They say the moans and screams that reverberate around the island are unbearable. There is a feeling of the most intense evil, and one thrill-seeker, upon entering the deserted hospital, was told, “leave immediately and do not return”.
The soil on the island, combined with the charred remains of some of the bodies, has formed a layer of sticky ash on the land. The top layer of ash has dried in the sun to form a fine dust that swirls in the breeze and catches in lungs. Part of the island core consists of a layer of human remains. Fishermen avoid the sea around this area, as the chances of catching a body part or two are high.
Ospedale Psichiatrico di Volterra
(Volterra Lunatic Asylum)(Volterra Psychiatric Hospital)
Borgo San Lazzero, Viale ex Manicomio, 56048
Status: Former Asylum; Abandoned
Founded in 1888 inside of the walls of a former Convent called San Girolamo this location was originally a place for the demented inside of a Poorhouse. In 1902 the name was changed to Frenocomio – psychiatric hospital.
Dr Luigi Scabia would soon take over and change it into sort of a village with stores and places to work for the patients. This was designed to help them become adjusted to society making their transition out of the hospital less painful. He even created currency for the patients to use.
Dr Scabia left the hospital in 1934 and things went from bad to worse to much much worse. The population began to grow until reached over 6,000 of inmates -which what the patients were called then - by the 1950’s – 60’s.
Conditions became horrific: nurses were referred to as guards, there was zero contact with family and the outside world and treatments such as electro-shock therapy, ice water therapy and insulin comas became common place. New pills and poisons were used on the inmates as test subjects.
It also became very easy to be locked up inside but extremely hard to get back out. Annoy someone with any level of power and into the asylum you went; usually death was the only escape.
In part because of horrible treatment of the patients – here and in other Italian psychiatric facilities – Italy passed the Basaglia Law in 1978 forcing all of the psychiatric hospitals to close. This spelled the end to this house of horrors.
Although, there have been rumours since 2018 that this institution will be opening up again for the treatment of the mentally ill.
Close your eyes and let your imagination run wild. What would an abandoned insane asylum in a horror movie look like? Have you got the picture in mind? Good, you’re picturing this location perfectly.
Apparitions of former patients, nuns and nurses, shadow figures who have been reported as following people, an overwhelming sense of fear and evil, time slips, feelings of not being wanted, being watched, being followed and not being alone.
And many people claim the ghostly population of this location would very much like to hurt the living.
All manner of unexplained sounds: disembodied voices, phantom footsteps, crying, heavy breathing, screaming, laughing, moaning; objects moving on their own, doors and windows opening and closing on their own, objects disappearing, touches, pokes, pulls and tugs by unseen presences.
Electrical disturbances, light anomalies, possession, warm and cold spots, unexplained breezes and winds and unexplained mists.