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Ospedale San Servolo

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Ospedale San Servolo (1797 -)

Location: Isola San Servolo, Venice, Kingdom of Lombardy-Venetia

Ospedale San Servolo

In 1797 the Napoleonic regime commanded that all mentally ill men of Venice had to be sent to the Ospedale San Servolo, a military hospital on the island of that name. The hospital was run by the order of Fatebenefratelli. In 1798, when the Austrians came to power, it became an institution that served a large region, including Tyrol and Dalmatia. From then on, the institution also admitted women. From 1805, Venice was in French hands again; then in 1814 the Austrians returned. Over the next few years, the number of patients increased to 570 people. Of these, 360 war casualties and 210 mental patients, the latter group being composed of 130 men and 80 women.

The proportion of mental patients gradually rose, and the number of war casualties declined. From 1825, patients were grouped according to diagnosis and social status. Worries about the scale of promiscuity between male and female patients at San Servolo led to the transfer of a number of female mental patients to the Ospedale SS. Giovanni e Paulo (also called the Ospedale civile), and the construction of a new women’s institution on the island of San Clemente.

A museum on the history of mental care at San Servolo and San Clemente opened in the former mental institution on the island of San Servolo in 2006. The former women’s psychiatric hospital on San Clemente now houses the San Clemente Palace Hotel and Resort.