IT’S HERE!!! RELEASE DAY! Today is the day my debut novel is unleashed onto an unsuspecting world!!
Except you’re not unsuspecting because I’ve been preparing you, with my 5 spooky legends about Venice. And I’ve got a doozy for you today. Because I’m good like that. Today we are celebrating the release of ‘Dead in Venice’ with a visit to one of the locations in the book, l’isola della morte…(mwah ha ha ha!!)
The Island of Poveglia
Poveglia is a small, unassuming island in the Venetian lagoon. It doesn’t look like much; there’s a few buildings, currently held up by scaffolding and closed off from the outside world by tall wire fences, and an old bell tower. There are DANGER – KEEP OUT signs everywhere, but that’s because of the condemned buildings, not the ghosts. Honest.
Originally Poveglia was used as a quarantine station for all ships entering the lagoon. The Venetians were way ahead of the rest of the world when it came to disease control and used to make every ship, regardless of where it came from, dock there for four weeks to stop any nasty foreign stuff spreading.
This of course served them well when the Black Death began its European tour, and rather than a way station full of frustrated sailors gagging to enjoy the delights of Venice after weeks at sea, Poveglia became a dumping ground for the thousands of poor souls who succumbed to the plague. The boat ride from the city to the island, accompanied by the plague doctor in his long snouted mask, was the last trip you would ever make.
In 1922 the island was turned into an asylum; what better way to hide those unsightly mentally ill citizens by sticking them all on a deserted island, with a sadistic doctor who would use them for his evil experiments; experiments that many of them did not survive. Eventually the perverted physician became mad himself, tormented by the restless spirits of his victims, and one day he climbed to the top of the asylum’s bell tower and threw himself off. But the ghosts weren’t finished with him; he survived the fall, only to be overwhelmed by a strange, suffocating mist as he lay prostrate on the ground, a mist which pummelled the life from his body…
In the late ‘60s/early ‘70s the local government decided to use Poveglia as agricultural land, but many of the farm workers brought in to grow fruit and vegetables there felt uneasy about working on the island. When mass graves were uncovered – pits full of the remains of the poor plague victims – and they realised that the soil composition of the island was about 75% human ashes, they quickly decided not to grow food there after all.
Poveglia was sold into private ownership about 5 years ago, but so far the new owner has left it abandoned. Whether the stories about the plague victims or the ghost of evil old Dr Paulo are true or not, the island has a reputation that could be hard to shake off…
Click the picture to buy 'Dead in Venice' today!