When you first hear the name Poveglia Island, it doesn’t strike any odd chords. In fact, the name sounds pretty exotic. When a snapshot of the island is seen it even has an aura of extravagance to it. It gives the appearance that it could be a private island get away for someone well established. Every rose does, indeed, have its thorns. This thorn involves the paranormal. And while this metaphorical thorn may or may not have its foundation in facts it, nevertheless, it continues to cause distress and ailment to any who dare to touch foot upon this island.
Poveglia is positioned within northern Italy’s Venetian Lagoons. The island has no known owners and entry is not allowed. The only time anyone is allowed access to the island is when its vineyards are being harvested. At one point in its history the island was owned by the Italian State but was then sold to a private buyer in the 1960’s. The owner, however, abandoned the island after a brief stay. In its more recent past, a family purchased the island in an attempt to renovate it into a holiday get-away, but they too fled the island within a day. It is rumored that, while there, their daughter acquired a slash down her face that called for 14 stitches. Due to its gruesome history, fishermen, similarly, avoid the island’s waters for fear of catching human remains in their fishing nets.
What is exactly in Poveglia’s history that repels anyone who ventures there? It’s actually quite interesting and echoes of an Edgar Allen Poe poem. During the Roman era the Poveglia Island was used as means to quarantine victims of the plague in an effort to separate them from the rest of the population. Years later, with the emergence of the Black Death, it was again used for the same objective. The dead were taken to the island, dumped into huge pits, and burned. Likewise, anyone who displayed signs or symptoms of illness, during this time, was taken to the island and burned. The lore of the island is that it is estimated that over 160,000 people were burned during this time. Due to such a high volume of human flesh being set ablaze the soil now possesses a thick layer of sticky ash that spans the entire island.
The devastation continues. In 1922, several centuries later, a psychiatric hospital with a bell tower was constructed there. Doctors and nurses recounted nothing unusual, but the patients declared that they could see and hear the victims who had died there. Of course, this was not taken as fact. Adding to the story, there was said to be a mad doctor on the premises who would conduct experiments on patients in an effort to discover a cure for insanity. These experiments would be done in the bell tower and would involve hammers, chisels, and hand drills. Supposedly after being involved in this type of experimentation for a prolonged period of time, the doctor, himself, claimed that he could hear and see the deceased. Being driven to madness he was reported to have run to the bell tower and dove off. The dive was unsuccessful and onlookers stated that as he lay dying a white mist rose from the ground and, through strangulation, helped the process.
Psychics and mediums, alike, have left the island greatly disturbed and anyone who ventures near it says that it possess a dark and evil nature about it. One man who was determined to outlast all previous goers spent the whole night there stated that upon entering the asylum he heard a loud and thunderous voice commanding him to, “Leave immediately and do not return“. In an era where horror films that brink on reality (Paranormal Activity) has become the rage it’s becoming harder to draw concrete lines on such things.