When most people imagine Italy, they don’t think of the paranormal. Pasta, pizza, iconic ruins, Roman gods, passion–these things are usually what springs to mind.
But a little-known island could change that.
Located in the Venetian Lagoon, Poveglia is considered by some to be the world’s most haunted island. Whether or not that’s true, what’s not in dispute is its horrific, tragic history.
The first mention of the island dates back to 421, when people from nearby Padua and Este used Poveglia as a refuge from barbarian hordes.
The situation turned dark in the 1700s, when suspected plague victims were taken to the island against their will and left there to die. Notice I said suspected plague victims–there are reports that not everyone left on Poveglia was actually suffering from the disease. Imagine how horrible it must have been to be kidnapped and abandoned on this island of death.
Italy survived three major outbreaks of the plague, and in the 20th century, Poveglia was once again used to quarantine people who were believed to be carrying the dreaded disease. This time an insane asylum opened as well. Like something out of a horror movie, a crazed doctor performed horrific experiments on his patients, including lobotomies, until he killed himself in a spectacular fashion, leaping from a bell tower.
The bell tower, the asylum, the hospital and the church still remain. It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of plague victims were burned and buried in pits on the island.
While much has been made of the fact that the Italian government doesn’t allow tourists on the island (there are a couple of tour groups that go, but they’re difficult to find), I think this has more to do with legalities than the paranormal. The island was used to quarantine thousands of people who had deadly infectious diseases. It’s also full of condemned buildings. This could explain why your average Italian has no desire to hang out there–it’s a rotting place full of dead bodies.
Poveglia has been the subject of at least two paranormal investigation shows, including this amusing episode of Ghost Adventures. It’s great for giving people an idea of what the island and its buildings actually look like, which is cool, but the “paranormal activity” is pretty amusing. One guy exclaims he’s never had such a high reading on a piece of equipment that immediately fails. Of course a ghost was responsible–not faulty equipment. And tripods never fall over on their own, nope. Especially not when they’re set up on an ancient curved wooden bridge.
I have to admit, the trio of “investigators” captured some bizarre “disembodied voices,” but I found the translations to be nothing more than wishful thinking. You’re in old buildings that are condemned–not only are they settling, they’re also falling down around your ears. Of course there’s going to be odd noises! At one point, the team claims a spirit mocked them by saying, “Bye bye.” It sounded like a bird to me.
That said, the guys showed guts when they split up and wandered around the island in pitch darkness by themselves. I don’t think I’d have the courage–ghosts or not, that place is creepy!
So of course I’ll be trying my best to visit it while I’m in Italy this spring. I’ve already seen the world’s most haunted forest–might as well try for the island too.
Would you visit Poveglia if you had the chance? Do you believe it could be haunted? What do you think of the Ghost Adventures episode? Do you think they actually captured paranormal activity?