Poveglia Island was home to a small community until it was abandoned in 1380 and is haunted by the ghosts of the plague victims. It is a small land mass situated in the Venetian Lagoon between the cities of Venice and Lido.

When the Bubonic plague hit Italy in 1576, thousands of dead bodies were piling up in Venice and the stench was terrible. Something drastic had to be done. The dead were hauled to Povelia and dumped in large pits or burned on huge bonfires. As the Black Death tightened its grip, people panicked, and those showing the slightest symptoms of the plague were dragged screaming from their homes. These living victims, including children and babies, were taken to the island and thrown into the pits of rotting corpses, where they were left to die in agony. As many as 160,000 tormented souls were disposed of during the Black Death.

Poveglia Island

The soil on Poveglia island, combined with the charred remains of the bodies, formed a layer of sticky ash on the land. The top layer of ash has dried in the sun to form a fine dust that swirls in the breeze and catches in lungs. Part of the island core consists of a layer of human remains. Fishermen avoid this area, as the chances of catching a body part or two are high.

In 1922, a psychiatric hospital was built. It was an imposing building with a magnificent bell tower. The patients immediately reported seeing the ghosts of the plague victims and of hearing whispers echoing off the walls. Their harrowing reports were dismissed, they were already deemed demented and mad.

The hospital was run by a doctor who was very ambitious. He decided to make a name for himself by experimenting on his patients in a bid to discover the cause of their insanity. The doctors methods were crude, lobotomies were performed using a basic hand drill or hammer and chisel.

After several years on Poveglia, the doctor himself began seeing the ghosts of the plague victims. It is said they led him to the bell tower, where he threw himself off. According to a nurse, the fall did not kill the doctor as he lay writhing in agony as the base of the tower; a fine mist swirled up around him, entered his body, and choked him to death. It is rumored that he is bricked up in the bell tower, and on a still night the bell can be heard tolling across the bay.

The hospital has since closed down, and the island is uninhabited. It is not open to tourist, and its ashy beaches remain deserted. Most boats refuse to call at the death isle, another of its names, but those who have landed report treading on ashes, hearing screaming, seeing moving shadows and having the urgent desire to flee. Recently a family sought permission to visit the island, hoping to buy it cheaply and build a vacation home. The family left before the night was over and have refused to comment on the reason for their abrupt departure; the only fact known is that their daughter's face was ripped open by "something" and needed twenty stitches.

A few people have dodged the light police patrol that guards the island, and all have sworn never to return. They say the moans and screams that reverberate around the island are unbearable, fishermen tell of seeing mystery lights on the island. There is a feeling of the most intense evil, and one misguided thrill-seeker, upon entering the deserted hospital, was told by a loud disembodied voice, "Leave immediately and do not return."

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