Like so many people—who probably play the lottery—I have often dreamt of having my very own island. This always seemed like a brilliant plan. My island, my rules, my choice of who gets to come to MY ISLAND. The daydream still makes me smile.
I see that Italy plans to auction off a very small Island in the Venetian Lagoon, ostensibly as part of selling many properties to offset their economic debt. Being completely unable to afford the island appears to perhaps be one of those “blessing in disguise” metaphors you hear about.
Though the history of this island is fraught with creepy, weird, scary stories, I will skip ahead to the 18th century. Ships en route to Venice would be quarantined there for 40 days to be quite sure no one had the Plague. Bad news was, 2 people did. At that point forward—things got BAD. From then on, the island was closed off and used to quarantine those with the plague or to dump those who were close to succumbing to it or those who already had. The stories—to this day—tell tales of the island being haunted by the souls of those who perished there. I imagine being tossed on an island to die could put you in a bit of a sour after life mood. But wait—there’s more. In the 1920’s, since let’s be fair, from a real estate standpoint, they certainly couldn’t use “quaint, exotic, charming, breathtaking or lovingly maintained” as selling points. Actually, dying sort of implies “breathtaking”, but still not good real estate buzz words for Poveglia Island.
Next best choice for use of this island? Well, naturally, hospital for the sick and insane. From what I have read, I am going with emphasis on insane. 1920’s version of mental health had a lot more to do with painfully crazy—pun intended—experiments and unnecessary lobotomies. The doctor who ran the place was either mentally unstable to begin with, or as some stories say, became that way from the hauntings. *The version I read has him flinging himself off a tower—or pushed by a disgruntled patient or poltergeist. (Like it matters.)
So Italy is trying to push this island as the perfect locale for a luxury hotel. And, if you win the auction, it comes with all the current structures and ruins. There is even a military fort dating back to the late 1300’s called the Octagon that can still be seen there. Yes, the haunted hospital, among the other fabulous backdrops sound like they would be perfect for the glossy brochure of an up and coming luxury resort. I know… YOU’RE THINKING ABOUT IT!
Maybe if it were purchased by someone who would lovingly bestow peace and tranquility to the island, the apparitions would lighten up a little. I think the island deserves a chance at flourishing. Italy has not yet released the initial starting price for the auction, but rumor has it at about $499,000 and expecting perhaps as much as 11.5 million. Online bidding ends May 6th…so start checking your sofa for change. I know the Venetians claim it is evil… BUT, it’s an ISLAND, it’s about 17 acres…And it’s ITALIAN. 🙂
The history and the ghosts aside, the only thing that has me a smidge concerned is that the soil is made up mostly of the charred human ash and bones of the more than 100,000 people burned there. That very well could be a deal breaker for me. BUT, getting back to the sunnier side of ME, I still really want my own island. I suppose when I really start my search I shall mention to my real estate agent that I would sincerely appreciate a NON haunted Island. However this auction goes, I for one am very interested to see what the future holds for Poveglia Island. It could very well wind up on my travel bucket list. 😉
UPDATE 5-14-2014 The 99 year lease was sold for approximately $700,00 US. (It requires more than $25 Million to be renovated.) But I was interested to now know the origin of the word QUARANTINE.. which I now know is attributed to the Venetians. It was Venice that coined the term quarantine, which is from how long travelers were required to stay on the island before they could be issued a clean bill of health and be on their merry way — forty days. Quaranta giorni. 🙂