Poveglia: Island of the dead


When you think about Venice, you can’t help but imagine majestic streets, incredible architecture and romance.

But instead of all that, why not try and visit the nearby island of Poveglia, which still has the first two things but has replaced romance with the misery and death associated with the plague?

The island is located in the Venetian Lagoon between Venice and Lido and is only a short boat journey from the floating city. It may be small, but Poveglia has a storied history. In the 18th century it was used as a quarantine station for people that had succumbed to the Black Death, and in 1922 it was converted into a mental asylum, where legend has it that a mad doctor used to perform crude lobotomies until he went mad and threw himself off the bell-tower.

You can’t actually officially visit the island as it stands, but never fear, the Italian state has auctioned off the site in 2014 to the highest bidder in the hope that they will turn the site into luxury hotels, so one day soon you can relax and unwind on the site of mass plague burials. 

Photo: Angelo Meneghini. Licensed under Creative Commons.