Poveglia: An Island Hell

Poveglia is an island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon and divided by a canal. Supposedly, the island is a paranormal hot spot and has been visited by many ghost hunters and, given the location’s history, the stories of paranormal activity might not be so far fetched.


In 1348, the Black Plague hit Italy. Believed to have been spread by rats transported by merchant ships (later, it was discovered that gerbils may have been to blame), major ports shut down. In an effort to contain the spread of the disease, it was decided that the afflicted of northern Italy would be transported via gondola to the island of Poveglia. Doctors and nurses tried to help those who had contracted the plague, but their efforts were for naught. As a result, over 160,000 people perished and were buried on the island in mass graves. Their remains were disposed of quickly. To this day, the topsoil contains nearly 50% human ash left over from the mass burial pits. The Black Plague would devour Europe, killing 30-60% of the population.


The late 1920’s’s brought more pain and torment when the island was again used to isolate  those who were a danger to others. This time, it was used as an asylum to house the mentally ill. Here, highly disturbed individuals could be “treated” and contained. Rumors about the head doctor, a man who performed deranged experiments on his patients, have permeated the history of the island. By the 1930’s, it is said that the doctor, tormented by the spirits of those he had killed, threw himself from the hospital’s bell tower. The tower still stands today and, even though there is no bell in the tower, visitors to the island can still hear it tolling late at night.

By 1970, nature had largely reclaimed Poveglia and its remaining structures. Although thrill seekers request passage to the island from local boat owners, those who reside on the mainland refuse to transport them, believing the island is cursed. Many will not even venture close.

Paranormal experiences on the island include an overwhelming feeling of being watched, scratched, pushed, and chased by spirits. Those who have experienced being pursued by unseen forces report that it is impossible to tell where the pursuer might be. It seems to them that the danger is all around them and sounds of screams and moaning can be heard all across the island.


In 2014, the island was sold to a developer named Luigi Brugnaro. Many wonder if Brugnaro will convert the island into some sort of luxury resort, but many more wonder if the spirits of Poveglia will allow it. Given the dark history and the unsettled spirits residing on the island, I think the answer is a resounding no.

What are your thoughts about the island of Poveglia? Would you spend the night there? Share in the comments!

Your Fellow Haunt Head,



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