history of the island

The Island of San Servolo is composed of a large architectural complex and a lovely park. The island was a monastic seat for a thousand years, then it housed psychiatric patients until the hospital’s closing following the psychiatric reform of 1978. Its first settlement dates back to the 17th century, when a group of Benedictine monks took refuge on the narrow and marshy island. In 1647, the complex was given to a group of Benedictine, Dominican and Franciscan nuns from the island of Candia. Next, the Senate of the Venetian Republic decided to use the Island of San Servolo to house the many injured who fled the clashes with the Turks. Medical services were provided by the Padri Ospedalieri di San Giovanni di Dio, now known as Fatebenefratelli. From that time on, the island’s history became closely linked with the authorities’ attitude toward disabling illnesses in general, and mental illness in particular.  The Province of Venezia, now known as the Metropolitan City of Venice, retained ownership of the island. In the 1990s, it began an architectural recovery programme to protect and promote it through its in-house company, San Servolo – Servizi Metropolitani di Venezia.