Poveglia - The Scariest Island Ever!
"Poveglia is a small island floating in the lagoons of Venice. In stark contrast to the beauty of its surroundings, the island is a festering blemish. The waves reluctantly lapping its darkened shores will often carry away the polished remains of human bones. When the first outbreak of bubonic plague swept through Europe, the number of dead and dying in the city of Venice became unbearable. The bodies were piling up, the stench was oppressive, and something had to be done. The local authorities decided to use Poveglia as a dumping ground for the diseased bodies.
The dead were hauled to the island and dumped in large pits or burned on huge bonfires. As the plague tightened its grip, people panicked, and those showing the slightest symptoms of the Black Death were dragged screaming from their homes. These living victims, including children and babies, were taken to the island and thrown into the pits of rotting corpses, where they were left to die in agony. As many as 160,00 tormented bodies were disposed of over the years."
Poveglia - Early History
From a shelter for fugitives, to a world hub for youth tourism: 1500 years is the span of time separating these events in the history of Poveglia, an island in the South Lagoon, over five kilometres from Venice, in the direction of Chioggia, seven hectares of surface area, lying half a kilometre from the Lido, right opposite Malamocco. This is a particularly long history. In 421 Poveglia was designated as a safe haven for people fleeing from the barbaric invaders. Since then it has had a varied and sometimes strange fate, as when the families of two hundred followers of Doge Pietro Tradonico (864) transferred there after he was slain in a conspiracy by the nobles, and they were at loggerheads with the new doge. They formed a close-knit and tenacious community that led the island to prosperity and almost independence; a community that survived both the deportations carried out by the Republic and the sharp decline of the island - abandoned at the time of the War of Chioggia (1378). They always managed to keep their special privileges, such as exemption from taxation.
Coming under the jurisdiction of the Magistrate for Sanitation in the final years of the Republic (1777), Poveglia became a port storage area, quarantine station for suspected ships, and finally a lazaretto. In the 20th century, until 1968 it was a rest home for the elderly, and many Venetians still remember it as such. Since then it has lain abandoned, except for the market gardens tilled by a local family. For some time the island has been mentioned as a possible place for a tourist village, for the Touring Club Italiano or the Club Mediterranée.
Last year, the State Lands Authority, proprietor of the island, let it for a renewable term of 19 years to the Cts Student Tourist Centre. At the end of the year, however, the regional Administrative Court blocked the assignation on the basis of an appeal made by a Lido entrepreneur who had tendered for a concession to build a sports and accommodation centre there. In 2001 a solution was found for the Lazzaretto Nuovo in the North Lagoon, surface area a little less than 9 hectares, close to Sant'Erasmo and three kilometres from Venice, to which it is linked by public ferries.
Already inhabited in the bronze age and documented since 1015 (first as a monastery), in 1468 it was assigned by the Republic as a preventive lazaretto for persons and goods. For this purpose various edifices were built, including the hundred metre long "Tezon" that still stands. What a moving experience it is to read on its walls the writings and graffiti of the people who were confined here.
The island became the main place of hospitalisation during the terrible plague of 1576 when it accommodated as many as ten thousand people. The Lazaretto was then abandoned and the island fell into disrepair. Fortified by Napoleon, it became a military powder magazine and remained as such under a succession of states and governments until 1975. Saved from abandon thanks to the volunteers of the Ekos Club and the Archeo Club, excavations and research are being carried out by the Authorities that have brought to light the remains of edifices and other finds of extraordinary value. Numerous guided visits are arranged here, as it is included in the City Council's Educational Itineraries. In 2001 Consap Apa, the public insurance agency for the assignment of property on behalf of the Ministry of Defence offered the island for auction at the very low starting price of two and a half milliards (the State in the last few years has spent 10 milliards on maintenance and restoration!). The alarm raised by archaeologists and environmentalists was answered by the Venice City Council, which exercised right to pre-emption and intends to restore the Lazaretto - that has ten buildings, for a surface area of about 3,500 sq.m and a volume of about 16,000 cubic metres - in recognition of its very high environmental and historical value.
Poveglia - The History
Poveglia is a small island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, Italy.
It has an unfortunate history and is considered by some[who?] to be a hot spot for ghosts. During Roman times it was used to isolate thousands of plague victims, and during the three occasions when the black death spread through Europe, the island was effectively used as a lazar house and plague pit-it was considered an efficient way of keeping the infected people separated from the healthy. It is believed that over 160,000 people died on the island throughout its history.
The island was home to a small community until it was abandoned around 1380, during the War of Chioggia between Venice and Genoa. In 1922, a mental hospital was built on the island. Local lore states that a particular mental health doctor tortured and killed many of the patients, before being thrown to his death from a bell tower. According to that same legend, he survived the fall, but was 'strangled by a mist that came up from the ground'. Its ruins remain to this day.
Today, the island is used for farming (primarily vineyards) and is not open to tourists.
Source : WIkipedia