Like ghosts? Then you'll love Poveglia, a small, deserted island in the Venetian lagoon that's going on the auction block next month. It's been called "the island of madness", "Hell" and "the most haunted place on Earth". You'd just love it to pieces.
No, but seriously, this place sounds scary. The trouble started back in the late 19th century when Poveglia served as a checkpoint for ships going to Venice. After a pair of ships carrying plague victims arrived in 1793, the island was sealed off and turned into a quarantine zone for people with infectious diseases, a role it served for over a century. It goes without saying that many of these people died on the island during this time, leading to the widespread belief that Poveglia is haunted. It didn't help when the place was converted into a hospital for the mentally ill in 1922. Rumour has it, the hospital was home to a number of crude lobotomies, performed by a doctor who'd been driven mad by the ghosts. He later flung himself off the bell tower.
These days, Poveglia's pretty quiet. Still owned by the Italian government, it's been abandoned for the past 50 years, though ghost hunters like to make the pilgrimage whenever they can. One TV presenter even says he was briefly possessed while visiting the island. The Italian government is now offering a 99-year lease to whomever's brave enough to take it over. No price information is available yet — but they think it would make a great destination hotel.
But it's a gem. It really is. St Marks Square is a stone's throw away. The landscaping is just gorgeous, and just think of all the stories you'd be able to tell after a few years living amongst the spirits of old plague victims and mental patients. Of course, you may have to perform an exorcism or two, but hey, nothing's perfect. Call it a fixer-upper. [Telegraph]