While we are quarantined in our homes and wishing we could stay with friends, remembering the Island of Poveglia in Italy brings something similar, yet more sinister to mind.
To the European population, it is nicknamed the “Island of Ghosts.” The small island sits alone, uninhabited in the Venetian Lagoon, a cluster of 166 islands. It sits below the Piazza San Marco. In the 14th century, Poveglia Island was a fort protecting Venice city. When the Bubonic Plague broke out in the 16th century it was turned into a quarantine site to house plague victims as the disease ran rampant throughout Europe. Now, it’s considered one of the most haunted islands in the world.
While it may not have been the intention for the Black Death victims to die on Poveglia Island, so few who went seemed to return. Most plague victims spent forty days there with hopes of recovering. But being surrounded by other ill individuals did not help. Over 160,000 people were carted to the island over the centuries as the disease continuously reappeared in Europe. The island slowly became a dumping ground of the dead and sick as ships continued to bring bodies to the quarantine site. What did they do with the dead? They burned their ashes. At one point human cremation made up over half of the island’s soil.
The name “Island of Ghosts” was given in 1814, as around this time, it had become the automatic quarantine station for anyone with any symptoms that resembled the plague.
After the Black plague was no longer an issue, the Venitian government decided to give the island a new look. In 1922 a mental hospital was built on the island. It didn’t take long, given Poveglia Island’s already dark history for rumors of a demented doctor carrying out human experiments and lobotomies to start circulating. If this doctor, in particular, did exist, he either died after jumping from a bell tower on the island, after encountering one too many ghosts or that the story they made up about him. The mental hospital remained open for 46 years before closing. That sound of the bell tower has been heard ringing by some, although it no longer hangs. This is just one of the reasons it considered a haunted island. A few paranormal shows such as Scariest Places on Earth and Ghost Adventures have featured the Poveglia Island. On the off chance, you’re wondering, travel is halted to the island, it is closed to visitors.