Poveglia Island is a small, rather insignificant island that is situated in the lagoons of Venice, Italy. Although Venice is an area known for it’s beauty and is a popular tourist attraction, the small uninhabited island sits alone. There are no visitors. No tourists are allowed. Many residents would rather pretend that Poveglia Island didn’t exist at all.
The dark and twisted history of Poveglia takes us back to the dark days of the Bubonic Plague, or “Black Death”. This horrific disease would kill most within four days of being infected. The city of Venice was in a state of panic as the plague crept upon it’s residents and took the lives of so many, as we have often read in history books. As the body count rose and the smell became unbearable to those who were still living, they started to haul the bodies away to Poveglia Island.
Local authorities soon decided to use the island as a quarantine of sorts and people who had even the slightest symptoms of the plague were dragged away from their families and dumped onto Poveglia Island. They were left to die alone..Surrounded by piles of dead bodies. Amidst the rising stacks of corpses on Poveglia, were always a few muffled moans as the ones who had not yet died, suffered their horrific fate. It is rumored that as many as 160,000 Men women and children were all dumped on the island, into the pits of corpses. It’s hard to imagine the physical and mental anguish that these plague victims must have felt as they died.
The large amount of bodies is said to have formed a layer on top of the original soil of the island. Fisherman have traditionally avoided the island because of the risk of reeling in human bones or body parts.
Poveglia Island was avoided for many many years after the plague. It wasn’t until late 1800’s that someone decided to put the dark uninhabited island to use. A large hospital that housed the mentally insane was built on the island, with an accompanying bell tower. It is said that the patients in the hospital almost immediately began to report visions of corpses and seeing the ghosts of plague victims in the hospital. These claims were of course ignored, because most people reporting these ghostly sightings were already considered mentally unstable.
Later during the 1920’s. a Doctor in charge of the hospital is said to have tortured patients and perform experiments that he hoped would make him famous within the medical community. The patients are said to have been taken to the Bell Tower, where he would perform the unspeakable experiments, using torturous methods.
The doctor ran these experiments on the mental patients for years until he too, began to see the spirits of long forgotten plague victims and the ghosts of his own victims. Haunted by these spirits, the doctor is said to have gone insane and attempted to jump to his death from the bell tower. Legend states that the demented doctor survived the fall, however. It wasn’t until a mysterious mist rose from the ground of Poveglia Island and strangled him, that he died.
Haunted Poveglia Island has sat empty ever since. Nobody dares visit the island. The few who have been brave enough to try, have reported hearing the disturbing moans and screams of plague victims. Some have even seen apparitions. Others have reported being attacked by unseen forces while on the island. One girl, whose family had considered purchasing the island, required twenty stitches to her face after her visit to Poveglia. The details of what happened are few, although the family never returned and did not attempt to buy Poveglia after their visit. Most will tell you that the island is evil and not to be visited. Most people who have walked the grounds of Poveglia vow never to return.
Whether Poveglia is haunted by thousands of spirits or not, the island has one of the most sinister and dark histories of any other place on earth. It’s not hard to imagine the countless ghosts and victims of torture or plague that may roam the island. It’s not hard to imagine the tormented minds of those who wander and the sense of vengeance that they must feel.
Some have claimed that Poveglia was not the island used to house the bodies of victims, but it was another nearby island, known as Lazzaretto Nuovo. The mental hospital on Poveglia is said by some to have been a retirement home, instead of a hospital. Others say that the truth of Poveglia is so disturbing that people have simply attempted to cover it up and downgrade the horror of Poveglia Island.
I for one do not plan to visit Poveglia Island, but our friends over at Ghost Adventures have. You can watch some of their experience below. There are many sources of information regarding Poveglia Island and it’s haunted history, for those who care (or dare) to learn..