San Servolo Island


Between 764 and 804 the Calbana family erected the church devoted to St. Servolo with annexed convent. But only from 1109 the San Servolo island became permanently the siege of a convent following the arrival of Benedictine nuns. The nuns stayed there for five centuries, until 1615 when they moved to the town. From 1647 the building was inhabited by the 200 Benedictine, Dominican and Franciscan nuns living on the island of Candia (Creta), who had to escape the Turkish conquest.

The nuns used the island until their extinction, then in 1715 the convent was closed. In 1715 the island was practically deserted thus the Senate of the Republic decided to use the ex convent as the siege of the new military Hospital because the war against the Turks, which made lots of soldiers come to Venice, had made the room of the military Hospital of St. Angelo of Castello not sufficient. The medical and welfare organization was given to the Brothers Hospitallers of St. Giovanni di Dio, nowadays Fatebenefratelli, and 400 patients were admitted to the new hospital. A general plan for restoring the buildings and the dispensary of the island was arranged, and the medicaments were produced by the friars. Afterwards the island became a sort of hospital for psychiatric patients (lunatic asylum), who were often shut in there even for all their life.In 1978 the approval of the law n.180 decreed the closing of the mental homes.

The transformation of the island of Saint Servolo, accomplished and carried through by the Province of Venice, into a place for education and dialogue of cultures and experiences, memory and history, represents an undertaking different from the others which are lived on the lagoon and which are strictly related to the touristic monoculture of the town.