The abandoned Island of Poveglia in the Venetian Lagoon is being auctioned off May 13 by cash-strapped Italy, but the brave soul that buys it may have to fight off evil spirits and other ghosts, according to locals.
According to The Independent (UK)
, the island's haunted past stretches back hundreds of years, where it was first used as a fort used in the violent wars between the Venetians and the Genoese in the 14th century. In the 18th century, the 17 acre island became the quarantine station for ships arriving with traces of the plague, and after it swept through town was used as a dumping ground for an untold number of bodies.
More recently, a hospital for the mentally ill was opened on the island in 1922 — which gave it the nickname 'the island of madness.' It is rumored that the deranged doctor who directed the hospital would perform crude lobotomies on patients before one day going mad himself and jumping to his death from the bell tower.
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The hosts of the popular Travel Channel show "Ghost Hunters" are some of the last known people to travel to the island, which is technically condemned, and there one of them was possessed by a ghost during the visit.
Thus far, there are only two bidders: a collective of locals known as Poveglia Per Tutti (Poveglia For All) and another mystery bidder only known as "user 181," The Venice Times reports
. User 181 has placed an initial bid of 513,000 euros ($710,000).
The Poveglia committee was started by a local restaurant owner Andrea Barina, who is afraid the island will be bought up by foreign investors and turned into yet another luxury hotel. He and a local architect, Lorenzo Pesola, have put in an initial bid for 160,000 euros ($220,000) ahead of the final auction day, May 13.
They said they are not afraid of the so-called haunted island.
"This anglo-saxon tradition of ghosts is una cazzata [bulls***]," Pesola told The Irish Times
. "It’s nonsense."
Barina says the island has a place in many of the local's hearts.
"What people would often do was go where the water was very deep and fish for little squid. Then, they’d go in little groups, secretly, onto the island, and would grill and eat them. Another thing that was unmissable: there was a wooden bridge from which we’d hold diving contests. There’d be 30, 40 of us. And we’d go and steal the peaches from the trees, which were the best peaches in the whole lagoon."
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