Italy’s Poveglia Island in the Venetian lagoon has an extremely dark and sinister history, but its real claim to fame today is the heart-stopping paranormal activity that occurs there.
The island sits just half a mile from the architecturally satisfying city of Venice. Its first inhabitants arrived in the year 421 while fleeing barbaric invaders who devastated the mainland. The invaders didn’t waste their time on Poveglia though as it’s a small island and easily defendable.
The Venetian government later used Poveglia Island as a quarantine area for victims of the black plague, a pandemic that swept through Europe in the 14th century, seeing thousands of people starting to be sent there in 1348.
In the 17th century, a second wave of the plague swept through Europe, causing more deaths and more people to be sent there, which was ultimately a death sentence.
Both pandemics saw bodies burned by the thousand and it’s said that 50% of the island’s soil is made up from human remains that have seeped into the ground over the centuries.
In the 1800s, following the end of the Black Plague, a poorly constructed asylum was built to house the mentally ill, but it was used as a place of exile rather than rehabilitation. Then in 1922 a mental health hospital was established there.
The island’s privacy and isolation provided a perfect place for sinister and inhumane experiments on the mentally ill, carried out by the island’s notorious doctor.
He performed electric shock treatments and lobotomies, which involved piercing the bone at the top of the eye socket with an ice pick to access the pre-frontal cortex, the area of the brain that’s in charge of your rational decision making and your personality.
All of this was done in pursuit of curing mental illness. These experiments were indescribably painful with no anesthesia and little attention given to sanitization and sterilization. The doctor would use raw tools such as hammers, chisels, and drills.
The experiments led him down a darker path of out-right torture and murder which he conducted on patients one at a time in the island’s bell tower. The methods he used are not specifically known, but the screams of the patients could be heard across the island at night.
The doctor’s reign of terror soon came to an end when he reported hearing and seeing ghosts. The true cause of his death has a few of variations, but all end in the same way.
Some say he committed suicide by throwing himself off the bell tower. Another is a claim from a nurse that says he was pushed by a unseen force, while others say it was his patients that sent him plummeting to his death.
Others say he died on impact, but a nurse stated he survived the fall and she witnessed him being suffocated by a shadowy figure, likely the tormented soul of one of his victims.
It’s not known how many people died on the island from the black death, but it is said to be over 100,000, which is a huge number for an island of just 17-acres.
In 1968, the hospital was closed down for good. After closing, the facility converted to a geriatric center from 1968 to 1975 and has been out of service ever since.
The island is now a restricted area, off limits to the public unless granted special access. The decaying ruins are slowly claimed by the greenery, making Poveglia Island a derelict treasure.
However, visitors, either being granted special access or illegally exploring, have reported paranormal activity from both inside and outside the buildings.
Visitors and ghost hunters have reported shadows, noises, feelings of anxiety and unease, which is not surprising when you consider the island’s history.
Fisherman and construction workers who attempted to restore the island’s buildings have reported screams and strange noises coming from Poveglia and many have said you can hear the sounds of the tower bell ringing at night.
Those foolish enough to visit the island have even been pushed off the edge into the ocean by an unseen force and once visitor was taken to the ground and choked.
In 2016, five Americans took a water taxi to the island and decided to stay the night, but were swiftly rescued by Italian emergency services when a sailboat heard them screaming in panic and alerted the authorities.
In 2014, the New York Daily News reported that Poveglia and four other pieces of Italian real estate went to auction due to the declining economy. Poveglia’s future is still undecided, but it still remains off limits to people today.
Would you be brave enough to visit Poveglia Island? Join the discussion and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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