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Poveglia Island: Like Hell, But in Italy

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With several hundred years of cruel death on its soil, stepping foot on Poveglia Island is a sure way to scare yourself stupid.

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Photo by: Chris 73

Get ready to piss your pants and scream like a little girl that's discovered a spider colony in her closet. Poveglia Island is a secluded little piece of land that even the macho-iest of Italians stay the fuck away from. The final restless place of thousands of diseased, murderous and insane people, Poveglia is the convergence of everything we know about evil. So what's the deal with this island of spooky terror?

Twisted History
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Photo by: Byran White

Back when the bubonic plague ate up most of the world's population, the Romans had a clever idea to keep the healthies separated from the sickos. The plagued people were shipped off to Poveglia Island, a small, secluded land mass that floats between Venice and Lido. There, people lived out the last of their wretched lives together until they croaked. Since the island already reeked of death, the next time an epidemic came along, barely alive bodies were dumped there and burned in mass graves. In the 20s, a mental hospital was built to welcome the island's newest "guests," or anybody that showed symptoms of any sort of sickness, physical or mental. Basically, if you had an itch, away you went to Poveglia where you'd sink your feet into the soil (half dirt, half human ash) and be in the company of over 100K diseased ghosts. What's more is that these plagued ghosts aren't your loveable Patrick Swayze types. No, these ghosts are pissed. You see, a dickhead doctor ran the mental hospital and, since mental health was pretty wishy-washy back then, conducted all kinds of brutal experiments on residents of the island (like shoving chisels into their brains to see what moved.) The doc eventually tumbled off the bell tower, either by his own doing or with a little shove from a few tortured souls. He survived the fall but rumor has it that some sort of mist swallowed him upon landing, effectively finishing the job. Suffice it to say that if you're looking for a place to piss your pants in horror, Poveglia's got the ghoulish goods.

Petrifying Press
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Photo By: Destination-venice.net

The dudes from Ghost Adventures got all kinds of spooked on the island. Their episode on Poveglia, where the crew stranded themselves there for 24 hours, is full of perceived curses, apparitions, creepy music, weird energy, inexplicable equipment malfunctions, and off-the-charts ghost monitors. These dudes used their best Italian to ask the ghosts pertinent questions like "are you a murderer?" and seemed to get responses from the dark abyss. Mysterious bangs, audible footsteps, disembodied voices and strange orbs are all captured on video and audio. As with most episodes of Ghost Adventures, people bashed the validity of their haunted claims. We'll admit this shit looks scary but most things illuminated only by the green of a night-vision camera usually are (best example: Paris Hilton giving a BJ.)

Getting There
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Photo by: Maurizio Mollicone

No one cares if you want to give yourself the willies; there are no boats that make regular stops at the island. The Italian tourism board prohibits visiting the island (on paper) and requires a lengthy application process, where you must obtain approval, before you can step your trembling foot onto the human ash-covered land. But as with most things, for the right price (about 200 euros), you can hire a dude to float you over there, no approval necessary.

OTP Tip: Step lightly. The whole place is falling apart in chunks (which may explain some of those mysterious bangs.)

Italians like to keep Poveglia at the bottom of their list of tourist attractions. But nosey scare-seekers have found their way onto its forbidden shores with mixed results about their encounters with the undead. When it comes to ghosts, it seems that people always find exactly what they're looking for. In the end, it's hard to say if this island is actually haunted but we can tell you that it's 100 percent better to be scared in Italy than it is stuffing your face with candy corn on your couch this Halloween.

Written By: Anna Starostinetskaya