Italy to Auction “Island of Madness” with Luxury Potential

Haunted Poveglia Island

Recently, the Italian government has announced that it will be auctioning at least 148 properties in hopes of resolving its national debt. Among these properties is the supposedly haunted Poveglia Island, that has been called “the island of madness” and likened to Hell.

Poveglia Island’s Dark History

Poveglia Island has been around for many centuries, dating as far back as 421. Between then and the late 17th century, the island acted as a safe haven for escapees of the barbarian invasions and as a lookout point for guarding the lagoon’s entrance. However, the island is most well-known for it being the dumping ground for the bodies of those who died from the Bubonic Plague and, later, the former location of an insane asylum.

Plague Doctor

Plague doctors on Poveglia Island cared for the sick.

In 1776,  Italy’s Public Health Office gained ownership of the island, and both people and goods, leaving and going to Venice via ship had to check into the island first. Once the Bubonic Plague struck in 1793, the island became a temporary lazaretto, a quarantine station for those traveling by water. Until 1814, people affected by the plague were exiled to the island, where many died and their bodies were burned.

After a couple decades of being isolated, in 1922, the buildings on Poveglia Island were converted into a hospital—or rather an asylum—for the mentally ill and for those who needed long-term care. Rumors suggest that the doctors used their patients for surgical testing, which turned out to be mere torture. Forty-six year later, the “hospital” was closed, and the island was abandoned.

Those brave enough to visit Poveglia Island have claimed that it’s haunted; some say they have heard the screams of the victims of the Bubonic Plague and of the cruelly-treated patients of the asylum. The Travel Network’s Ghost Adventures even aired an episode that captured the possession (or at least semi-convincing acting) of one of the show’s hosts.

Poveglia Island’s Potential for Beauty and Luxury

Poveglia Island

If people can look past its morbid history, Poveglia Island has the potential to be converted into something beautiful, possibly a luxurious hotel resort. However, the Epoch Times reports that Mayor Giorgio Orsoni would rather have the island be turned into a “home to a youth or cultural center.”

Poveglia Island

Whatever the island becomes, there is potential for beauty here. Located in northern Italy’s Venetian Lagoon and situated between the two beautiful cities of Lido and Venice, this abandoned island sits on 17 acres, with many buildings sittings on the property, including a Cavana (a place to shelter boats), a church, a hospital, a bell tower and housing buildings. Its features may be worn, but the island and its building could transform into something great with a little hard work.

Poveglia Island

The Italian government will be auctioning a 99-year lease on Poveglia Island (so the property will still belong to the government), and the bidding for the island will start at $490,000. However, the barracks on the island have previously been sold for up to approximately $5.2 million, so perhaps the building will be sold for more. We’ll find out with time.

Some of the other buildings that will be auctioned include a 15th century castle and a monastery.

Photo Credit
Chris 73

Ransom Riggs