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. poveglia

Citizens of Venice are are attempting to sabotage plans by the private sale of Poveglia. A bid to prevent it from being turned into “yet another luxury resort”. They want to keep ownership local and open the island to the public.

There are no museums or other tourist attractions on offer in the uninhabited Poveglia, just an abandoned hospital – rumoured to have hosted experiments on the mentally sick – and tales of people being possessed by ghosts.
But residents are campaigning to save the island, which is currently closed to visitors.

The Italian government is set to auction Poveglia on May 6th and is offering the buyer a 99-year-lease to redevelop it, with the hope of the hospital being turned into a luxury hotel.
Campaigners have set up Association Poveglia and are calling on locals to club together, each donating €99, in a bid to raise the €20,000 needed to participate in the auction.
“We want the island to remain public,” Lorenzo Pesola, one of the association’s founders, was quoted in Il Fatto Quotidiano as saying.
“If our offer to the state is the best, then those who have subscribed to the association will manage the island, democratically, for a public purpose.”
If they lose the auction, the money will be refunded. The campaign’s Facebook page, called Poveglia per tutti (Poveglia for everyone) has so far attracted 4,868 ‘likes’. poveglia4

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.

Giorgio Orsoni, the mayor of Venice, and some of his cohorts are forking over 99 euros ($137) each in the hope of snagging Poveglia for themselves. Everyone can partecipate and become the owner of an island in the most beautiful lagoon of the world.