The island known by Venetians as the place of no return.
(Image by author 1997)
Welcome to the island of no return. The place is known as Poveglia, and to local Venetians, many believe that the island is almost a living, breathing, evil entity. While the island is beautiful by day, many are fearful to enter at night.
About five miles of the coast of Italy is an island that sits much like Alcatraz. More than 100,000 people have perished here. With that many deaths, the souls have nowhere to be free but here.
As you walk through much of the trails, it seems as if the trees are consuming your world. For whatever reason, it’s as if the earth wants to consume you and take you with it. Many Venetians are fearful of speaking about such a place. The atmosphere is very much suffocating, and at times you feel as if you’re unwanted.
The Peste Nera, or “Black Death consumed much of Europe during the 13th century. More than one third of Venice’s population was decimated by it. Within five days, many victims were dead. The bodies began to pile up in the streets. The swollen decay of the dying would be bricked up within their own homes. Anyone who tried to escape would be murdered on the spot.
Victims would be buried in graves called Plague Pits. So many victims began to pile up, that many were hauled into pits, some while still alive. They would then be burned. Since there were so many victims, the solution was to bring the victims to the island of Poveglia.
People were taking against their will. Some alive, some dead. The living were amongst the dead, and even if they were healthy, one would soon die. Because of the piles of dead, many Venetians believed that the dead reached all the way to hell.
Without proper burials, the spirits of these lost souls still linger. Many Venetians are respectful of the dead, and will usually not step foot on this island. In fact, many refuse to go here. Even to ask a Venetian to take you to the island, they not only look at you as if you’re mad, but almost with curiosity. The waters surrounding the island still dredges up the bones of the dead by fishermen.
To make matters worse, a hospital was built on the island for the ill in 1922. The doctor of the hospital performed cruel experiments on the patients because they began to see the dead. The doctor was then pushed from the top of the bell tower by unseen hands. Going by at night, you can actually hear that bell tower toll, though not a single soul is on the creepy land of death.
To step foot on the island is to bring fear to your senses. You walk amongst ash, or what many believe to be human ash. You feel breaths upon your neck; feel your hair stand on end. And at times you often wonder if that’s really screaming that you hear. You also feel an impending danger, and a need to get off the island. At one point you see moving shadows that make you wonder, ”Did I just see that? I sure enough did, and now I need to change my soiled pants.” Needless to say, to go to that place takes immense cojones, and a reserve. You may not believe in ghosts, but there is something about the island that is unnerving and will make you believe in something.