The Italian government is auctioning off Poveglia Island, formerly home to medieval plague victims and 20th century asylum patients, as part of a continued effort to raise money to cover the country’s national debt.
Italy is offering a 99-year lease on the island in the Venetian Lagoon for a price that will be determined by online bidders next month, according to The Telegraph, citing a state sale’s agent who noted that barracks on the island had previously sold for 3.8 million euro ($5.25 million).
The country reportedly hopes Poveglia’s buyer will transform the former mental hospital, which operated between 1922 and 1968, into a luxury hotel.
The small island’s other structures include a 17th-century fort, a church, a prison and a bell tower. Legend has it a doctor who routinely performed lobotomies at the asylum threw himself from the tower after having been driven mad by ghosts of the plague victims. Estimates allege tens of thousands of people died and were burned or buried on the island.
The stories and history of Poveglia helped earn it the title of “The Most Haunted Place in the World.” The television shows “Ghost Adventures” and “Scariest Places on Earth” also filmed episodes there.
Citizens of Venice are organising to stop Italy’s private sale of Poveglia. They want to keep ownership local and open the island to the public.
Take a look at the island as it stands today:
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