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The Forbidden Island, Venice, Italy

Ghosts, light humour and serious beliefs, item 22

We may never understand how or why spirits remain on the earthly plane, but many experts agree that our perception of time is vastly different than theirs and has to do with our brain’s inability to perceive time as a dimension.

The pervading theory is that there are two ways in which ghosts can be seen. They can try to make themselves visible to us by slowing down or staying in one place for an extended period so that they’re moving slower than we are, or we can apply subtle perception from our end.

Subtle perception or the ability to slow the perception of time by varying degrees is what allows some individuals to see ghosts. Because their world moves more swiftly than ours, they may be present for several hours while we’re able to see them for only a moment.

But why do they linger on the earthly plane? Persecution of any sort is one common reason why spirits will remain; to bring light to injustices or to seek revenge on (haunt) their persecutors. These deaths are commonly untimely, and such was the case on the Forbidden Island, one of the most heavily haunted places in the world.

Poveglia, an island in Laguna Veneta (the Venetian Lagoon), is known today as “the forbidden island” and is said to be one of the most haunted places in Italy. Its macabre history begins after the war of Chioggia in 1379, when all the islands inhabitants were moved to another location and the island was fortified for battle. Several unfortunate incidents led up to its present state.

• A healer, or witch as many called her, cursed this place, her ancestral home, willing that it should never again be inhabited.

• The island was used as a mass burial ground during the Black Death and other plagues, when live victims were often thrown into pits with dead bodies and buried or burned.

• In the 20th century, the island’s fortress was transformed into a hospital for the mentally ill, and a doctor was said to have tortured and butchered patients by his own experimental treatments. He finally went fully mad and plunged to his death from a high window, but his body was never recovered.

Legends of hauntings by the crazed butcher doctor, the plague victims, the war victims as well as the descendants of the original inhabitants who where forced out of the island are rampant.

Many say that when the mist rises over the lagoon with a full moon to light the night, figures can be seen walking through the trees. They are generally vague and distant but it’s by and large agreed they appear to have human form.

The most common among them is the apparition of a woman who sits on the seawall dangling her legs over the side, laughing boisterously and pointing at those living who watch from the other side of the lagoon as though mocking them.

At times, the cries of victims can be heard, though they’re often attributed to the call of sea birds. Recordings of the sounds have been made and using high definition technology, words can clearly be defined. The words “help me” and “stop” are most often heard, but other words such as “beg you”, “mercy” and “no” are frequent enough so as to be considered actual verbalisations of spirits.

• In the 1500s, monks were offered the fortified building as a refuge but they refused to inhabit the island.

• Descendants of the original villagers were offered relocation back to the island by the state, but they, too, refused saying they felt an overall sense of evil there.

Forensic experts are baffled by this phenomenon, offering no logical scientific explanation, and the Italian government has closed the island to all tourism, but paranormal experts know the souls trapped there have simply taken over the island for themselves as a final testament to their resolve.

Ghost, Spiritual Or Historic Stories For Pubs And Restaurants