Explore #7 of the ‘128mb SD Card Tour’
Time for another old asylum…
History (translated and rewritten from here)
Vercelli’s asylum was built in 1937, and comprises 20 pavilions and a church spread over 30 acres.
The asylum is infamous for a massacre after the end of World War II of a group of more than 70 soldiers of the fascist Socialist Republic of Italy, who had been held in a nearby stadium used as a prison camp. On 12 May 1945 a group of partisans loaded the prisoners into cars and brought them to Vercelli, locking them in the asylum after having forced the staff to leave. There the prisoners were violently beaten and divided into groups, and most then executed in a variety of horrible ways – some were shot, others thrown out of the windows, and others were brutally crushed beneath the wheels of a lorry.
In the 1960s the asylum’s reputation took another dark turn, when many of its nurses denounced the director, accusing him of using “psychologically violent” methods with patients.
The asylum finally closed in 1978 as a result of the Italian Mental Health Act of 1978, ‘Law 180’. This law, also known as ‘Basaglia Law’ after its main proponent the Italian psychiatrist Franco Basaglia, contained a directive for the closure of all asylums and their replacement with community-based patient services.
After closure of the psychiatric hospital the site was used as a regular hospital until 1991, when it was then closed and replaced by a new hospital nearby.
Following the closure the site has been left largely disused and decaying, with mountains of confidential patient records were left abandoned across the site.
This was a fun late afternoon spent fighting our way through overgrowth and exploring various buildings. We didn’t have time to see the whole of the site before darkness fell, so I’d definitely like to revisit at some point if the opportunity arises.
As always, click on a photo to launch slideshow viewer
Even more disturbing was this scene – the skeleton of a bed and part of an old straight jacket. In the corner was machinery for administering Electroshock therapy (EST), and old vials of adrenaline and other drugs!
As the last of the light finally faded we reluctantly made our way back through the overgrowth and headed off to our motel for the night.