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Guess where I’ll be this time next month…

I’ve got my panama hat, my natty spectacles and the rouge is bleeding down my cheeks. But the boys of Venice are safe. I’m taking two of the British variety with me.

I’m more excited about Poveglia, the abandoned island two miles out into the Lagoon. A  quarantine/burial ground during the black death, it’s practically unvisitable these days, unless you find a very, very nice man with a boat, but even then, it’ll involve parting with quite a wad of Euros. Nowadays, the only inhabitants are packs of dogs running wild in the ruins of the old hospital there.

Poveglia has had a few uses over the centuries, most of them grim. In the ignominious tradition of dumping all our cultural anxieties onto the mentally ill, there are the usual regurgitated stories of rogue doctors throwing themselves off the tower of the psychiatric hospital operating there in the 1920s. TV ghost hunters enjoy telling American viewers how the soil is 50% human ash following the hasty mass burnings in the wake of the plague. Although there is a vineyard. Silver linings.

Deliciously dilapidated, it’s been described as “a great big ball of darkness, death and hauntings”  – picnic time! I’ll take Bonios for the wild doggies.

It’ll be good to get out of the UK. I’ve realised that the editing process is going to be much harder than I expected, and staring at the same pages every day is getting me down. The wet weather has been playing havoc with my knees – thanks, Marfans – so some sunshine wouldn’t go amiss.

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