“Poveglia: ‘World’s most haunted island’ is up for sale…is anyone brave enough to buy it?” The headline caught my eye. The story was about a small Italian island, Poveglia, in the Venice lagoon. With a title like that, of course I was intrigued, so I read on. The history of the island is gruesome, and in stark contrast to the sun-filled aerial shots of lush greenery and decaying buildings that I found later.
According to a mix of history and legend, Poveglia was used as a quarantine island for anyone showing plague symptoms during the various outbreaks in the Middle Ages. Legend has it that the bodies of the dead and dying were thrown into mass graves on the island and burned to eliminate the spread of the disease. Horrific rumor #1: supposedly, the soil on the island is 50% human ashes.
Hundreds of years after the threat of plague had subsided, a mental hospital was built on the island. Horrific rumor #2: the doctor in charge was said to have performed grotesque experiments on his patients, and eventually he jumped to his death from the tower still visible on the island today.
It’s hard to imagine how the now-abandoned island wouldn’t be haunted, considering its history. And in a bid to pay down some of the nation’s debt, Italy is auctioning it off. So I started to wonder, would I ever consider buying a haunted property?
Now, obviously, I don’t have enough money to buy an island (if only), but if I did, would the history of a place influence my decision to purchase it? There was another story I read a few months ago, about a man putting his self-proclaimed haunted house up for sale. I don’t know if his story attracted buyers or sent them running in the opposite direction, but he included the ghostly disturbances in his listing.
I love ghost stories and scary movies. I’m also a history nerd. So combine those two things and ghostly history will draw me in every time. Having said that, I’ve never experienced anything supernatural, and I’d probably run and hide under my bed at the first unexplained bump in the night. I like the idea of living in a house with an interesting history, but I don’t think I could knowingly live somewhere in which something terrible happened. There’s a difference between visiting a haunted place and living in one, and I’m just not sure I could share my living space with a spirit.
I think I’d have a different view if I were someone who steadfastly did not believe in ghosts. Sometimes I envy those people their certainty and unshakeable conviction that ghosts and spirits are not possible. But I’m not one of them, so I’ll go on believing that maybe that sound I just heard was more than a squeaky door. And I guess that belief means I won’t be buying any haunted property any time soon.
So, are you a skeptic or a believer? And would you ever buy or live in a place that was rumored to be haunted? Do you think places can hold energy of events and people who lived there before, good or bad? I know it’s not Halloween, but I’d love to read your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
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