Poveglia is a small island located between Venice and Lido in the Venetian Lagoon, northern Italy. A small canal divides the island into two parts. Poveglia should not be confused with Ex Poveglia, another small island of the lagoon three kilometers West of Poveglia.

History: The island first came to be referenced in chronicles in 421 AD, when people from Padua and Este fled there to escape the barbaric invasions. In the 9th century the island started to be intensely populated, and in the following centuries its importance grew steadily, until it was governed by a dedicated Podestà. In 1379 Venice came under attack from the Genoan fleet; the people of Poveglia were moved to the Giudecca, and the Venetian government built on the island a permanent fortification, called “the Octagon,” still visible today. The island remained uninhabited in the following centuries; in 1527 the doge offered the island to the Camaldolese monks, but they refused the offer. In 1776 the island came under the jurisdiction of the Magistrato alla Sanità (Public Health Office), and became a check point for all goods and people coming to and going from Venice by ship. In 1793, there were several cases of the plague on two ships, and consequently the island was transformed into a temporary confinement station for the ill (Lazzaretto); this role became permanent in 1805, under the rule of Napoleon Bonaparte, who also had the old church of San Vitale destroyed; the old bell tower was converted into a lighthouse. The lazzaretto was closed in 1814. In the 20th century the island was again used as a quarantine station, but in 1922, the existing buildings were converted into a hospital for mentally ill and long-term care. This went on until 1968, when the hospital was closed, and the island, after being shortly used for agriculture, was completely abandoned. Presently, the island is still owned by the Italian state.

(Source: mortisia)

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