“Legends and rumors about Poveglia are nearly as pervasive as the weeds, and they read like a horror story: that so many people were burned and buried there during the black plague that the soil is 50% human ash; that local fishermen give the island a wide berth for fear of netting the wave-polished bones of ancestors; that the psychiatrist who ran the mental hospital was a butcher and torturer who went mad from guilt and threw himself from the island’s belltower, only to survive the fall and be strangled by a “ghostly mist” that emerged from the ground.” -Ransom Riggs, SOLD! The Happy, Haunted Island of Poveglia
Italy’s Poveglia Island has a long and dark history. In this episode, Skye discusses the history of the island, which started off as a quarantine and dumping ground for plague victims. It is said that the island contains the remains of over 100,000 bodies and the soil is made up of 50% human ash.
(11:58) “If you had an urgent itch, you could get sent to Poveglia.”
In 1922, the island’s buildings became re-purposed and the island became an asylum for the mentally ill. At this time in history, it took very few symptoms to be sent to the asylum. To make matters worse, the doctor who ran the facilities would perform brutal experiments, including lobotomies, on patients against their will. He performed the worst experiments on his “special” patients in the bell tower. He died falling from that bell tower, but whether he was pushed or jumped is unknown.