For Sale: World's Most Haunted Island Apr 15, 2014 23:53:53 GMT -5
Post by Joanna on Apr 15, 2014 23:53:53 GMT -5
'World's most haunted island' up for auction
A lease of a Venetian island described as one of the most haunted places in Italy is due to be auctioned off next month as the Italian state desperately seeks to raise revenue. Poveglia, a small, uninhabited island in the Venice lagoon, minutes from St Mark’s Square, is among five prime properties, including a castle and a monastery, that will go under the hammer in an online auction to help cut Italy’s massive debt pile. The 17-acre island was fought over by the Venetians and the Genoese in the 14th century – and still shows traces of being fortified – before it became a quarantine station for ships arriving at Venice in the 18th century. After a plague was discovered on two ships, the island was sealed off and used to host people with infectious diseases, leading to legends of terminally ill Venetians waiting to die before their ghosts returned to haunt the island.
A hospital for the elderly which opened in 1922 and operated until 1968 is rumoured to have hosted experiments on the mentally ill, including crude lobotomies, carried out by a director who was driven mad by ghosts before throwing himself from the hospital’s tower.
The island is currently closed to visitors, but an American TV presenter who visited the island and entered the abandoned hospital for the Travel Channel series Ghost Adventures claimed to have been briefly possessed by a ghost there. The Italian state is now hoping that offers will arrive to transform the hospital into a luxury hotel under a deal giving the buyer a 99-year lease to redevelop the property, while the island remains the property of the state.
An additional four properties listed for auction will be sold off rather than leased, including a monumental monastery in the crumbling old town of Taranto in Puglia, in the heel of Italy, and a 15th century castle in Gradisca d’Isonzo, near the border with Slovenia, that was built to defend against the Turks. The state sales agency is selling off the properties after first ensuring buyers have the permits to redevelop – an essential prerequisite in Italy, where red tape can deter investors. A former barracks in Trieste is also going under the hammer, one of dozens of disused barracks buildings built in the centre of Italian towns and dating back to the unification of Italy, which the state is trying to sell.
A spokeswoman for Italy’s state sales agency declined to put a possible price on Poveglia but noted that barracks buildings had previously been sold for up to €3.8 ($5.28 US) million . Another 148 properties are due to be auctioned off this year, with the state hoping to raise €500 ($690) million.
Source: The Telegraph, April 15, 2014.