The world is dotted with cursed places, places to avoid when travelling if you believe in ill-fated destinations or to visit if you are intrigued by mysterious or wrecked sites.
THE POVEGLIA ISLAND, Italy
Island of the Venetian lagoon, Poveglia fell into disgrace during the Chioggia War in 1378 and never recovered. It was used as a lazaret during the plague, as a quarantine station for the ships entering the lagoon in the following decades and then as a psychiatric hospital with a terrible reputation.
On the official registers many pieces of information about Poveglia’s history are missing. It is today believed that the island is haunted by the ghosts of those left there to die without assistance and of those subjected to the questionable treatment of the psychiatric hospital’s director, a sadist who finally committed suicide.
None of the sale or redevelopment projects have been successful so far.
ROCCA Sparviera, France
Today it is a ghost town of the Maritime Alps, located 30 km north of Nice.
In the twelfth century, in this secluded area, 350 people used to live as a self-sufficient community well far away from the rest of the world. Among them even a notary and a priest.
Then fate turned and disgraceful events begun to happen: a plague of locusts that caused years of famine, pestilence, war, financial collapse and several earthquakes, until, in 1723, even the priest left.
It is said that all these misfortunes were due to the curse that Queen Giovanna of Naples put on the village after she found her little children murdered in the house of her vassal, where she was spending the Christmas. On December 24, 1357 the two children were found lying on the dining room table, arranged as a macabre banquet.
The grief-stricken Queen, who had not had an easy life even before that terrible event (four marriages and serial widowhood), put a curse on Rocca Sparviera, so that no form of life would never be able to live in that part of the world again.
Punic Carthage was a thriving city, a symbol of political power and commercial success, but when it fell, it fell forever. There was no second chance for this city.
It is said that one of the reasons why the destiny of Carthage was to become, over the centuries, not more than a district of Tunis, was its land too full of innocent blood.
In Carthage in fact there was one of the largest tophet of the world, a place where worshipers practiced the human sacrifice of children, burning them alive. At Carthage the children burned were so many that the funerary urns could be found in several strata up to 5 metres deep.
Scylla and Charybdis (Strait of Messina), Italy
The two mythical sea monsters noted by Homer, located on the opposite sides of the Strait of Messina, were an inescapable threat to passing sailors.
The stretch of sea where the Tyrrhenian and the Ionian seas meet has always been feared by sailors and dangerous for all those ships that underestimated the wind and the waves of this beautiful corner of the Mediterranean.
Even today, despite the experience and the advanced technologies we have, the monsters Scylla and Charybdis ask for respect, always watchful and never content.
Before becoming the open-air prison that is now, Gaza was a vibrant trade centre, a dynamic city full of beautiful stone buildings. What is now the epicentre of the colonial tensions between two different worlds was once the focal point for the all the eastern Mediterranean businesses.
Today, after the establishment of Israel, the people of Gaza live imprisoned in a strip of land with no access to the open sea, without the possibility to travel and move freely and with limited resources. Pollution, overpopulation, the trade limits, the scarcity of water, electricity and arable lands make this place one of the worst in which to live today in the Mediterranean basin.