The world’s most haunted island, Poveglia, in the Venice lagoon, is up for sale.
The Italian government is auctioning off the island, in a bid to cut the country’s public debt, the Daily Mail reports.
The 17-acre island was reportedly used as a dumping ground for those afflicted with the Bubonic plague in the 16th century. People affected by the plague were sent there to be buried, burnt or left to rot, and their spirits are said to haunt the island. An estimated 100,000 Venetians died on the island.
A mental hospital was opened in the 1920s by a doctor who allegedly tortured his patients with lobotomies and other experiments.
It is believed that he was driven mad by the ghosts of his victims, and eventually threw himself off the building’s tower. The hospital closed in 1968, but its ruins are still there as well as a church and the crematorium.
The plan of the Italian state is to transform the hospital into a luxury hotel, offering the buyer a 99-year lease to redevelop the property, The Telegraph reports.
A writer for MentalFloss.com who visited Poveglia Island in 2010 described it as “a crumbling collection of abandoned buildings and weeds run riot just two miles from the glittering palaces of the Grand Canal.” Locals tend to deny the island’s terrible past, citing the ruins to a rest home for the elderly.
The island is now a significant place for ghost hunters who come looking for reported spirits. The most famous ghost is plague victim Little Maria, who was allegedly stands crying looking out across the lagoon towards her home town of Malamocco.
Poveglia is not the only property being offered by the Italian government. Four other properties, including a 15th century castle, a monastery, an army barracks, and a residence in Loreto will also be auctioned off.
The government’s goal is to raise 500 million euros (approximately $690 million) from the sale of nearly 150 state owned properties.
The virtual auction will close on May 6, RT.com reports.