This once proud hospital served the people of the Lido for over seventy years. The Ospedale al Mare was a product of alternative thought in medicine with an Italian twist. An innovative healthcare center, it was the only tuberculosis treatment center in the world which offered patients hydrotherapy, heliotherapy, beaches, and operas.

While fine arts and ocean spray may have helped patients, they couldn’t help the hospital. By the turn of the century a lack of funding and the condition of the now-antiquated facilities were key factors in its ultimate closure. Files and records were left behind when it was improperly abandoned in 2003; over a decade later, it still hasn’t seen use.

cover photo courtesy Fulvio Montano

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ospedale-al-mare-old-15

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History

ospedale-map-2The story of the Ospedale al Mare (map) begins in June of 1868. The founder of the first hospice along coastal Italy, Bellarai Joseph, held a conference in Venice about tuberculosis and its effect on underprivileged children.

Joseph’s message resonated with the community, and within two years the Hospice Marino had been constructed on the beach of the Lido, built to serve two hundred children afflicted by the disease.

Giovanni Battista Fisola offered his land on the beach of the Quattro Fontane for a nominal fee; continued donations from the community helped the facility grow to over 450 beds by 1873.

At the turn of the century Lido residents were threatened by over-development as real estate investment moguls determined land values were appreciating rapidly. Healthcare facilities were inadequate for the growing population, and the Hospice Marino was limited in size and scope.

ospedale-1930s-2In 1921, 22,800 square meters of land and 50,000 square meters of beach were earmarked for construction of a larger healthcare facility to supplant the hospice and serve the Lido.

ospedale-1930s-1 ospedale-1930s-3 (click thumbnails to enlarge)

Over the next twelve years, more than a dozen structures known as “pavilions” were erected in the new complex which would be called the Ospedale al Mare (“Hospital of the Sea”).

ospedale-al-mare-old-aerial-2The pavilions were named for benefactors: Belluno, Friuli, Cassa di Risparmio, Verona, Vicenza, Venezia, Principe di Piemonte, Schio, Valdagno, la Chiesetta di Santa Maria Nascente (Church of St. Maria Rising), and Orfani di Guerra (the Orphans of War).

Between 1923 and 1925 the complex was enlarged; the top two floors now included the Educatorio Ricketts Queen Margaret, a schoolhouse which began hosting elementary classes on site by 1926.

aerial view & outline of Ospedale al Mare complex

ospedale-al-mare-old-aerial

ospedale-layout

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Ospedale al Mare

ospedale-al-mare-old-entranceThe hospital of the sea was officially inaugurated in 1933 when it replaced the Hospice Marino. The concept of the hospital was to offer therapies in a natural setting of sky, sun, and water.

To this end, the new facility offered unique treatments such as hydrotherapy & heliotherapy – something made possible by the geographical location and sunny climate of the Lido. The new hospital also had a thalassotherapy pool, another uncommon form of treatment at the time.

While the hospital specialized in treating tuberculosis, it was also capable of handling orthopedics, pediatrics, and polio.

The complex would have more than exotic forms of treatment. It boasted a library, workshops for artisans, multiple kitchens, full laundry facilities, a church, the aforementioned school, shops, a theater – and of course the expansive beach.

ospedale-1930s-8 ospedale-1930s-12 ospedale-1930s-9Cardinal RoncalliSix years after opening the Ospedale al Mare was classified as a “first-class specialized hospital” and it had become one of Europe’s most significant institutions for marine hydrotherapy.

Dignitaries and leaders throughout Europe drew crowds during their numerous visits.

By the beginning of the Second World War, the facility had become a leading treatment center in alternative medicine.

ospedale-1930s-7Between 1940 and 2003 an on-site weather station conducted daily measurements tracking the hospital location’s bioclimatic effects on the patients.

[ In 1955 the Ospedale al Mare had 1,400 beds, 10,000 patients, and 450,000 visitors ]

ospedale-1930s-4*

Teatro Marinoni

ospedale-1930s-6The theater was built in phases through donations, with construction beginning in 1921.

The hall was dedicated to Mario Marinoni (1885-1922), a professor and scholar of international law who was a key figure in support of the economic and social fabric of early 1900s Venice.

Known as the Teatro Marinoni, the art nouveau-styled hall was designed to entertain the hospitalized children.

ospedale-1930s-5 ospedale-teatro-marinoni-2Talented Venetian painter Giuseppe Cherubini (1867-1960) transformed the ceiling of the theater with a fresco depicting a cheerful marine scene featuring Neptune surrounded by playful cherubs and cupids (below).

The building contained expansive windows including a stained glass feature with a winged lion. Numerous chairs and sofas were loosely arranged in hopes of creating a relaxed atmosphere for guests.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare ceiling mural
photo courtesy Mattia Battistin

It was pioneering in its goal as a place where art and culture found a role in healthcare. Former patients remember how they could enjoy “therapy of the arts” by watching operas, orchestras, plays, and later, films – when the theater’s backdrop would double as a large screen.

For decades the Marinoni pavilion – later known as the Liberty Theater – would conduct shows for the hospital’s patients. However by the 1970s, a difficult economic climate forced the hospital to wind down operations. As various pavilions were shuttered the hospital population dropped.

Theater attendance likewise suffered, and with financial resources now exhausted, the performance hall was closed in 1975.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare projector abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare film reelsphotos courtesy Dead End Street Urban Exploration

Today little original furniture remains. Vandals have broken windows, torn curtains, and damaged the remaining fixtures. Water leaks in the ceiling threaten Cherubini’s fresco, and the fanciful stained glass depiction of the winged lion sits broken. A beautiful curtain painted by Cherubini once hung behind the stage has also disappeared in the years since the building was closed.

Supporters for the preservation of Teatro Marinoni have lobbied for legislative protection of the building as a structure of historic significance under Superintendent of Venice Laws 1089 and 1939 – and reiterated by Legislative Decree 42 issued in 2004.

If approved, future owners of the property would be obliged to recondition the theater and preserve it to a satisfactory state of repair.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare teatro marinoni
photo courtesy Mattia Battistin

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Decline & Abandonment

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareWhispers of contraction first appeared in the late 1960s with the closure of the asylum and medical facilities on the nearby island of Poveglia (map) in 1968. It would continue with the transfer of the health department from the Lido in the 1970s.

[ In 1969 the Ospedale al Mare’s staff had grown to over 1,500 ]

Beyond the economic crisis, resort developers posed the largest threat to the hospital’s continued operations. As the city found it harder to meet financial obligations, pressure increased to sell valuable land on the Lido to developers.

Municipal balance sheets deteriorated due to rising healthcare costs for the nearly 18,000 residents of the Lido, and the hospital – by this time was hemorrhaging money – was a budgetary anchor. At the same time Italy was in a fiscally-motivated transition to broaden the regional centralization of medicine.

Over the next thirty years the Ospedale endured a long, slow contraction, until it was finally shuttered on the first of October in 2003. Numerous protests – including a bonfire and a hunger strike – failed to stop the Police & Fire brigade from sweeping the complex during final shutdown.

(click thumbnails to enlarge)

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Brian Rybolt Photography

The city’s lack of financial horsepower meant little was re-appropriated and much was left behind: Furniture, medical equipment and supplies, clothing, books, and medical records – the latter of which caused a furor among residents when it was discovered and broadcasted on the news.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare records abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare recordsIn the years after closing the complex fell victim to vandalism. Salvage thieves stole copper pipes and electrical fixtures. Leftover equipment was looted while vagrants in search of shelter moved in.

With no private financial interest in the abandoned property, no efforts were made to protect or secure the buildings.

(click thumbnails to enlarge)

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Dead End Street Urban Exploration

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Creative (and eerie) video of the Ospedale by jecko79:

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Redevelopment

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareIn 2006 the residents of Lido discovered proceeds from the sale of the Ospedale al Mare complex would be used to help celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy by funding the construction of a new Palazzo del Cinema.

Those behind the plans spoke of having it completed in time for the Venice Film Festival. Mayor Massimo Cacciari announced “we want to create a real city of cinema, similar to Rome’s Auditorium, which has become our competitor.”

To this end, the mayor signed an agreement allowing the city to sell the Ospedale al Mare to developers with the caveat at least €100M be earmarked for a futuristic Palazzo within the grounds.

Selling the Ospedale was necessary, noted Cacciari, because it would be unthinkable right now to get the new Palazzo built with public funding… But the hospital area’s conversion plan is attracting private investors.

Est-Capital_logoSeveral suitors emerged, but ultimately it would be Est Capital’s real estate investment arm Real Venice 2 that would land the deal in 2008.

Originally founded in 2003 by Federico Tosato and former councilor Gianfranco Mossetto, the investment services company enjoyed a successful debut and had grown assets under management to €847M by 2011.

Est Capital had been buying real estate around Venice with the intention to redevelop the Lido. Spokesperson Cristina Fossati boasted of the moves and explained the company’s commitment to development on the Lido:

Est Capital’s Real Venice real estate fund is renovating the town’s entire 2.2km sea promenade.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare

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Deal on Shaky Ground

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareIn December of 2009 Est Capital made the first payment of €16M to the city for the former Ospedale al Mare; however, within months the deal would go south over a sequence of disagreements and delays.

The two principal obstacles were: A disagreement over which party was responsible for cleaning up the site, and the city’s stalling of the project until it could approve a new Health Plan for the Lido – a requirement before any party could tear down the existing hospital.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Brian Rybolt Photography

By August of 2010 it became public Est Capital had no intention to pay the estimated €10M needed for remediation of the former Ospedale.

City residents sent an open letter calling for the resignation of Special Commissioner Vincent Spaziante, who in March of 2011 urged his compatriots at city hall to approve a new Health Plan:

Without the approval of a new Health Plan for the Lido…Est Capital would have the right to withdrawal from the purchase agreement for the Ospedale al Mare. And if we lose the sale of the former hospital, we can forget about a new Palazzo del Cinema.

Est Capital’s plans to build a luxury tourist resort were reviewed at a conference in April of 2011. The event revealed a plan to build the largest marina on the Adriatic featuring an enormous dock with one thousand berths.

Included were a parking lot with over 500 spaces, three six-floor towers, a supermarket, and shopping. The residences would have private beachfront with 300 arranged sunbathing huts, all complimentary to the style of the Lido.

ospedale-remodelThe investment company was also involved with other projects on the Lido including the Excelsior Hotel (built in 1908) and the Hotel Des Bains (built in 1900) – both jewels of the Lido and part of Est Capital’s Real Venice 1 investment fund.

According to the investment company, all had been approved by city officials – but lacked the environmental impact assessment approval.

[ Above Left: Designer Studio TI’s plans for the former Ospedale al Mare ]

When the response came from the environmental board, it was a negative opinion. Among the concerns surrounding Est Capital’s plans was the proximity of the three planned towers to Lido’s Nicelli Airport (map).

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareResidents voiced concerns regarding overdevelopment of the Lido, preferring instead to maintain the current building and vegetation landscape of the isle. City representatives countered that €30M from the sale of the Ospedale would be used toward the new Palazzo del Cinema.

Commissioner Spaziante warned the dock for boats and mega yachts along with luxury hotels in San Nicoletto must be done, otherwise we can wave goodbye to the new Palazzo del Cinema.”

Meanwhile, during excavation at the site of the former Palazzo del Cinema discovery of an ancient Austrian fort and asbestos during excavation of the site drove up costs and held up development.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare

According to Manual Cattani, director of the site work at the Palazzo del Cinema:

The site of the Palacinema remains suspended and we still have to pay €20,000 per month for caretaking and surveillance while we wait for a solution.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare photos courtesy Luigi Tiriticco

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Off Again, On Again, Off Again

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareHopes of progress had been dashed by June of 2011. Remediation could not be completed at the old Palazzo site due to asbestos and the Ospedale al Mare complex was in purgatory until the city could determine what to do with the Monobloc health facility (map), the Teatro Marinoni, and the Ospedale’s original Thalassotherapy pool.

[ Developer Grandi Lavori Fincosit, SpA proposed this futuristic tourist marina for the site ]

During this time the Ospedale al Mare deteriorated rapidly due to exposure, neglect, feral cats, rats, and vandalism. Despite millions of euros spent on the property, neither the city nor Est Capital hired guards to protect the property.

Little effort was made to secure the buildings; doors were left open, windows broken, and walls torn apart as scavengers retrieved valuable piping. Toxic waste and radioactive x-ray equipment were discovered abandoned in the buildings.

Since developers had no intention of re-using the structures, no attempts were made to secure the dilapidated buildings.

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abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareIn August of 2011 the Environmental Assessment Board approved the plans to build the €181M resort and dock, re-engaging Est Capital in the development.

[ CDP Investimenti Sgr produced this pdf suggesting an investment in the former Ospedale ]

The terms would give Est Capital the Monobloc and permits to begin demolition of the Ospedale in February of 2012.

In exchange Est Capital would pay for remediation, protect the Teatro Marinoni and the church of St. Maria Nascente, and agree to reserve portions of the property for public use.

(click thumbnails to enlarge)

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Brian Rybolt Photography

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareHowever a lack of faith things would proceed resulted in Est Capital requested €8M be refunded by the city to cover expenses already incurred during the design and acquisition of permits.

When no agreement was reached by March of 2012, the dispute went to arbitration.

In June of 2012 it was noted Est Capital’s investment fund failed to honor terms by June 15th. Real Venice 2 had refused to sign the deed, but according to the city, the investment group shouldn’t expect a refund of the €61 already paid:

“Siete inadempienti, ci teniamo i 61 milioni” (You are in default, we will keep the 61 million).

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abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare test tubes abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare recordsphotos courtesy Mattia Battistin

The city didn’t have a choice, as the money from the sale had already been factored into the next fiscal year’s budget.

By this time protests from the residents and the strict terms which came attached with the sale – including the preservation of the Marinoni Theater and St. Maria Nascente church, and mandatory public access to the beach for tourists – had become enough to deter Est Capital.

[ An expose on the local news in July of 2012 revealed the horrors of record keeping at the Ospedale; slides of autopsies remained behind (pictured below), and medical certificates of those who died in the hospital as recently as 1992 were found. ]

 abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare files and records
courtesy Dead End Street Urban Exploration

Representatives from Est Capital shared reasons why the company soured on the prospects for the property: Resident protests, strict preservation terms for the Marinoni Theater and St. Maria Nascente church, and the mandatory public access to beaches requirements.

Citizens were cheering for the deal to collapse while the anti-development sentiment ran high amongst those on the Lido.

(Thanks for giving up) to the great project of transforming the old Ospedale al Mare on the Venice Lido in a giant (and frankly horrible) tourist village with an equally horrifying adjoining dock, as big as the island of Giudecca.

-Roberto Bianchin, journalist

Despite the negative progress, Mayor Orsoni remained optimistic claiming the city would reach an agreement with Est Capital – even if it meant the city would need to make other concessions.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare
photo courtesy Brian Rybolt Photography

The case reached the civil courts in July of 2012, but the verdict was delayed so the judge could review additional documents. Est Capital was determined to have the purchase agreement terminated while Orsoni was equally determined to maintain the original agreement.

If the parties could not come to an agreement by July 24th, the judge would decide.

The city of Venice presented a claim of €100M against Est Capital for damages in dropping out of the sale of the Ospedale. Lawyers for Real Venice 2 were vocal about their being able to dismantle the City’s case, noting there was “never a commitment regarding the reclamation of the former Ospedale,” and pointing to the city’s delays in allowing Est Capital to proceed with construction.

[ July 22nd, 2012: Est Capital head Gianfranco Mossetto is charged with €20M in tax evasion. ]

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ospedale-politicians

On August 12th, 2012, an oral agreement between Mayor Orsoni and Est Capital was announced. The mayor indicated build permits would be expedited so that progress could begin immediately.

Meanwhile a critical article is published in the Gazzettino lambasting city hall for making a bad deal, selling a €80M complex for €61M to build a Palazzo del Cinema that never came to fruition. The article goes on to say the Lido has lost an important hospital, a large park, and a vast stretch of public beach – for nothing.

After nearly €50M in costs are subtracted from the €61M made on the sale of the Ospedale, the city is left with only €11M:

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare palazzo hole

  • €27M: paid to the Health Authority and the State Property for the purchase of the land.
  • €8.2M: required for construction of new health district to replace the Monobloc.
  • €1.5M: transferred to commissioner’s “special accounts.”
  • €1.3M: cost incurred by the municipality for reclamation of the land.
  • €1.8M: cost to cover “hole” left by unfinished Palazzo project. (at right)
  • €2.2M: cost to upgrade existing structures in old Palazzo del Cinema complex.
  • €8.2M: estimated cost given by Est Capital for design work on project.

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abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Luigi Tiriticco

By November of 2012 the complex is closed to the public to make way for remediation and development. A fence was installed with signs warning:

“Attention! Contaminated site subject to remediation.”

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abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare phoneIn December a verbal truce was announced between the sides.

Both were intending to sign a new agreement by March of 2013, which would allow the city to keep the money already paid and not break the “il Patto di Stabilità” (Stability Pact) for 2013 .

However problems arose when the city council found out of the agreement between Mayor Orsoni and Est Capital was made without their approval.

(click thumbnails to enlarge)

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare

ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Luigi Tiriticco

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareUltimately a deal was not struck by March. Est Capital voiced their displeasure with the proceedings and requested €54.9M through the courts, claiming the amount was the sum of their advances and compensation already paid – including damages over the delays.

In late March of 2013 the civil case concluded with the judge siding with the City of Venice. In addition, the judge ruled the city gets to keep the €31M deposit paid by Est Capital. The investment company said they believe the verdict was “completely wrong and unfair” and proposed they would appeal in hopes of finding a better result through a “more competent” court.

The investment company formalized a complaint against the order of Judge Manuela Bano for allowing the city to keep the €31.6M.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Luigi Tiriticco

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Starting Over

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareEst Capital won an appeal which resulted in €31M held in escrow to be returned to Est Capital. Shortly thereafter the Ospedale was listed for sale once again – this time for €58M.

The city claimed the asking price was dictated by the municipality’s needs to satisfy the constraints of the Stability Pact.

In late December of 2013 it was announced the city would sell the Ospedale to a Deposits and Loan fund, a joint investment under public control which manages a large part of national savings.

But the transaction was held up due to lingering lawsuits from the Est Capital deal.

The final sale price was expected to be below the €58M asking price, given the property is distressed and the city’s desperation to satisfy the terms of the Stability Pact.

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abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare[ In November of 2013, urban explorers returned from their trip into the Ospedale and shared their findings with a local paper.

What they found: Abandoned & broken medical equipment, scattered unkempt medical records, dead animals, and dung. Using a geiger counter while walking around the former radiology department (in the Vincenza Pavilion), the explorers realized radiation dosimetry when handling red canisters and abandoned x-ray plates.

Also discovered: a nauseating smell permeating the complex. ]

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Dead End Street Urban Exploration

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[ In April of 2014 four separate fires broke out in the Ospedale al Mare, believed to be arson. This was the second fire in two months. ]

(click thumbnails to enlarge)

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare fire abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare fire abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare fireabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare fireabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare fire abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare fire abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare firephotos courtesy Vera Mantengoli

By April the economic climate had improved. The Venice Superintendent of Architectural Heritage and Landscape revised his decision disallowing developers to demolish certain protected properties which had deteriorated beyond repair.

Real estate investment group Hines Italia SGR purchased the portfolios owned by Real Venice 1 and was reported to be reaching a deal with Deposits and Loans for an “integrated enhancement of the Lido.”

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare
photo courtesy Leganerd

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Today

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare dormitory-2Despite numerous bidders for the property, it remains a dormitory of degradation.

The once-proud medical facility has become a homeless shelter, with about a dozen new unauthorized tenants now roaming the once-bustling halls.

Nature has moved in. Birds will fly in and out, feral cats (for the most part) keep the rat population under control.

Vegetation has started to reach into the buildings.

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare dormitory-3 abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare dormitory-1abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare trash*

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare teatro marinoni theaterRumors of drug dealers and thieves congregating in the complex led to a local police sweep to clear out the vagrant population.

However, the sweep revealed the squatters were merely people down on their luck. Aside from trespassing, no illegal activities were discovered.

In fact it was the occupation of the theater by local preservationists which allowed for the rapid discovery of the arson fire in April, and saved the theater and church of St. Maria Nascente.

If not for those occupants, the entire complex might have burned to the ground.

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abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareabandoned hospital venice ospedale al mare abandoned hospital venice ospedale al marephotos courtesy Brian Rybolt Photography

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The Future

abandoned hospital venice ospedale al mareAbsent a wealthy preservationist benefactor, the Ospedale al Mare’s fate is likely demolition.

There are asbestos concerns, mold permeates the complex, and the years of seafront exposure have all contributed to deteriorating most of the structures beyond a reasonable repair cost.

Resort developers are largely turned off by political red tape and the vocal backlash by citizens against attempts to raze the buildings. Preservationists want to protect the buildings, which would require a larger investment than developers are willing to spend.

Before anything is done, the investors, residents, and city hall must agree to a course. Without an accord between the public and private sectors, the stalemate can only persist, allowing the Ospedale to deteriorate further.

In that scenario, no one wins.

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View the main entrance to the Ospedale al Mare in Google Maps Street View

abandoned hospital venice streetview*

For more pictures check out this photo album, the result of a recent visit to the Ospedale al Mare by MarieUrbex

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25 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you for another fascinating post, SI. I always find it fascinating how quickly nature reclaims man made objects, no matter how large the edifice. Also, note the dark figure that moves into the far doorway at 1:44 in the video. It remains for but a couple of seconds. Probably just a member of the camera crew but my imagination begs it to be a ghost!

  2. Interesting pictures. I love the photos of these old abandoned buildings, but their story is so sad. Your stories are always enlightening and so well researched! You should write for the national evening news!!!! I’d at least then be able to trust what I heard reported!!!!

  3. Fascinating post and what a tangled web woven for this site. It’s funny how so many buildings like this are dogged by tortuous legal proceedings and underhand tactics.

    I love the thought of a healthcare centre offering a beach and opera. So civilised!

    • What’s also amusing is the financial reality that you likely wouldn’t find a new hospital built on a beach today, since the price of desirable beachfront land would be prohibitive due to developers and real estate speculation. But we could use more hospitals with theaters!

  4. Great piece as always. It seemed you had a lot of photographers’ work to draw on, too. Kudos to Luigi Tiriticco especially IMO for clean, well composed shots. Great. now I gotta start thinking about a trip to Venice, too? This place looks like a goldmine.

    • Thanks TR! I am not at all surprised you would identify best with Luigi’s work, your styles are not dissimilar. IMO both are clean, with very subtle (if any) PP. Less is more, and once you get the framing right you let the lens do the talking. Kudos, sir. 🙂

        • Well… Not all of your work, but some of my favorites from you have been the ones that appear to have subtle PP. I think photographers sometimes get carried away with the effects, twist too many dials and turn too many knobs, moving sliders too far on too many adjustment layers.

          What I meant was your style is clean, you don’t turn everything up to 11 (and yes, meant to be a compliment!) 😉

          • Thanks. Yes, on a serious note, that is (usually) what I’m going for. Trying to make it look natural, though the finished image might be a far cry from the raw original. I was serious when I said I took your previous remark as a compliment.

  5. Like always a well documented article ! The picture with the cat skull is quite scaring, I hope I won’t do nightmare 😉

  6. Wow, such history of conflict and abandonment! An urban explorers dream. I wonder if this property will ever see any new again?! Wonderful imagery in this post as well.. Hats off to the photographers!

    • An urban explorer’s dream indeed! My eyes were glued to the screen when I was reading about this one.

      BTW, good to see you post again Cynthia, I was worried after you had gone radio silent for awhile. 😉

  7. You know reading your pieces I often think what is wrong with our species is our seeming inability to just invest in a “do over”. Just bulldoze what’s there and start again. It’s like we keep trying to make something out of what’s there and throw good money after bad. Maybe we can’t see our way into a structural exorcism. This spot has bad mojo, move on. Or once we’ve seen what someone else has out there our minds struggle to envision something else entirely in that spot. I sometimes wonder if spaces need to be invaded by decay and nature so thoroughly, that we finally allow what was once there to pass onto the grave and we can think of something else. Whether in our psyche or in our grand ideas manifested in structures we don’t like to revisit where we believe we have failed.

    • Great points Noelle. I’ve noticed location has a lot to do with it. Places along the water or in populous city centers are not long for this world. With some exceptions most of the awesome castles you find in Europe are either isolated, up in the mountains, in undesirable locations, or in the middle of nowhere. If staying power is the goal, build where no one wants to live. Also, I believe the Native Americans believed in land having “bad mojo” like you say. Of course the pilgrims just took said land and still built on top of it anyway, but I digress… 😉

      • Well, really it’s all a lesson in impermanence, isn’t it? From a meditator’s point of view, it reminds me that nothing, including myself, lasts forever. _/I\_

  8. This morning, my wife and I found a gap in the fence around the Ospedale al Mare and visited some of the abandoned buildings. There had been further deterioration since our last visit, in the spring of 2012 (that is, before the fence went up and some of the site’s “contaminated” soil was removed), but there were compensations — in particular, a proliferation of amusing, disturbing and, very often, highly finished images on walls both interior and exterior. We encountered three inhabitants of the ruins and had some interesting conversation with them.

    I dispute your assertion that “[y]ears of seafront exposure have deteriorated most of the structures beyond a repairable state” and your consequent implication that the site should be razed. My impression is that most of the buildings are still structurally sound. Little water has gotten into them. The complex is still intrinsically handsome and worth preserving. It should be possible to convert it into a complex of residences, shops and small hotels that with fit nicely with the nearby Art Moderne airport and restore to the Lido something of its between-the-wars swank. You conclude with this remark: “Without an accord between the public and private sectors, the stalemate can only persist – and no one wins.” In fact, as long as the private sector is bent on nauseous megaprojects of the kind envisioned by EST Capital, stalemate is victory. Meanwhile, as your own piece makes clear, the decaying Ospedale fascinates the beholder and instills in him a pleasing melancholy.

    • Hello Alexander, thanks for reading. The comment about “repairable state” was referring to the economics. Yes, anything is possible – I suppose Bill Gates could buy it tomorrow and fix it – but generally if the cost to repair exceeds the cost to “start over,” the outlook for being saved is grim. In the case of the Ospedale, its location on valuable beachfront only makes the preservation efforts more difficult. I think the only people “bent on nauseous megaprojects” are the developers and the politicians who benefit from the deals. I know the locals aren’t enthusiastic about such plans. We can agree the decaying Ospedale fascinates though, can’t we? It’s a beautiful piece. Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment, Alexander.

  9. Very interesting article thank you, I was wondering if anyone knew about the history regarding burials of people that died there. I have visited the site and witnessed what I can only imagine as human remains buried shallow, with bones found in muddy banks near the hospital morgue. Does anyone know about this and why they are there?

    • Hi Rebecca, thank you for the comment. Potter’s fields were usually distant from hospital buildings and located in fields, not near any banks (the water table would be an issue). The dead poor would be buried in pine boxes, and those boxes would be stacked in mass graves at the highest point away from water. If you found some bones that weren’t in stacked boxes, I would guess wild animal remains – or perhaps a homeless or vagrant person. If you wanted to go full conspiracy theory we could guess a victim of a crime. But I don’t think they’d be from the Potter’s field, just my guess. 😉

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