Venice. The island of San Servolo, from monastic seat to cultural pole

And so San Servolo rewrote its own history. For more than a millennium, the island had been home to a community of monks and nuns who found shelter here when old age or illness no longer allowed them to devote themselves to their normal activities. With the 1700s, the Doge decreed to open the facility also to the many wounded who came to Venice from the sites of the clashes with the Turks. Then under Napoleonic rule San Servolo became a military hospital and later a psychiatric hospital (finally closed in 1978).

Recently, the island has been reclaimed and has become a centre for multicultural promotion. It houses, among others, the International College of Ca’ Foscari University, a branch of the Venice Academy of Fine Arts and the Venice International University.

San Servolo is open for private visits. It is possible to visit the Museo del Manicomio (Museum of the Insane asylum), which houses the exhibits that belonged to the psychiatric hospital that was active on the island until 1978 (the tour also includes the nearby church) and the beautiful park with its ancient trees (including a Canary Island palm tree, large American agave plants, a European lime tree, Aleppo pines, a centuries-old olive tree and ailanthus trees).

The island can be reached from Venice by vaporetto, line 20 from San Zaccaria.


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