Upon visiting the Island of San Servolo, you will get to know, first-hand, one of the most sinister corners of Venice.

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The Museum of Madness

The Museum of Madness.

This place is striking from two points of view. For those interested in medicine, it represents an exceptional document of medical history. On the other hand, it is a perfect place to learn about a most peculiar part of life in times passed. Situated on the Island of San Servolo, between Venice and Lido, there stands what was originally a hospital for plague victims. Later, it became a psychiatric hospital from the eighteenth century until the end of the twentieth. Nowadays, it operates as a university; however, inside can be found one of its darkest corners. Its little known Museo della Follia is designed to provide an extensive exhibition that explains how patients were treated, back when the building served as a lunatic asylum. From straight jackets and electric shock therapy tools to a collection of photographs of patients during the nineteenth century. Something less lugubrious, though equally interesting, is the old pharmacy. This is the place where the multitude of medicines were once produced for the city, including some treatments for syphilis in the age prior to penicillin. A visit to this island, though gruesome, is certainly unique and different with regards to the rest of the city.

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