Manicomio di Voghera, Italy

Opening in 1876, the Manicomio of Voghera was a place of horror for it’s patients. The asylum closed in 1998 and is now in a state of decay.

Manicomio Di Voghera, Italy
 

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Aerial view of the asylum at Voghera

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Aerial view of the asylum at Voghera

Like many of the asylums in Italy, the Manicomio of Voghera has an awful history of hardship amongst its patients. The ‘inmates’ were in the asylum to be hidden away from society, considered an object of shame.

Built in a neoclassical style in 1876, featuring impressive Italian gardens around the exterior. Nicknamed the Painful City, the hospital was a huge complex who’s patients were rarely released back into society. This was in no small part due to the ruthless treatment bestowed by the founder, Cesare Lombroso, an alienist (psychiatrist) who rejected most classical trains of thought on psychology.

With no real external governance, the patients became lab rats for Lombroso’s experiments, suffering all kinds of abuse. Many died from the experiments or the hardships of asylum life.

Male inpatients engaged in tailoring work

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Male inpatients engaged in tailoring work

Upon arrival, new patients were immediately deprived of all their possessions and were placed in observation for a period of 28 days. After that time, a doctor made a decision as to which area of segregation they would be placed, dependant on their mental disorder – the “quiet”, the “almost quiet”, the “dirty and lame”, the “agitated” or the “sick and weak”. As for the treatment, until the early 1950s, the only methods of “care” were diabetic coma, electroshock and lobotomy. Generally, symptoms only worsened over time, recoveries were rare.

Life at the madhouse was hard and restricted. Orphans were often placed in the asylum, doomed to spend their entire life there.

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Life at the madhouse was hard and restricted. Orphans were often placed in the asylum, doomed to spend their entire life there.

The patients were free to socialise with each other in common areas, until the moment they show excessively violent attitudes or pose a danger to any of the hospital’s 300 staff members. Such cases were locked away in a circular area of cells knows as the rotunda. The circular cells arranged around a semi-circular corridor had no corners and the beds were fastened to the ground.

The rotunda at Manicomio di Voghera, where aggressive patients were locked away

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The rotunda at Manicomio di Voghera, where aggressive patients were locked away

Initially the hospital was split between into two, with half for male patients and the other for females. During the second half of the twentieth century, the distinction between sexes was removed. This led to the emergence of relationships between patients, including that of Luigina and Mario, who shared the same room. By the 1970s the treatment of patients was reformed. The asylum was eventually closed in 1998.

Manicomio Di Voghera - One of the two parallel corridors in the male wing

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Manicomio Di Voghera – One of the two parallel corridors in the male wing

Manicomio Di Voghera - A trolley bed in one of the side corridors. A "Luigina and Mario" heart hangs on the door

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Manicomio Di Voghera – A trolley bed in one of the side corridors. A “Luigina and Mario” heart hangs on the door

Manicomio Di Voghera - One of the darker corridors contains a child's bike

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Manicomio Di Voghera – One of the darker corridors contains a child’s bike

Manicomio Di Voghera - One of the many decaying corridors

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Manicomio Di Voghera – One of the many decaying corridors

Manicomio Di Voghera - Items remain in many of the rooms

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Items remain in many of the rooms

Manicomio Di Voghera - A ground floor bedroom still has numerous beds

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Manicomio Di Voghera – A ground floor bedroom still has numerous beds

Manicomio Di Voghera - The curved corridor of the rotunda

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Manicomio Di Voghera – The curved corridor of the rotunda

Manicomio Di Voghera - The rotunda's cell doors

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Manicomio Di Voghera – The rotunda’s cell doors

Manicomio Di Voghera - Following the corridors we find more beds

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Following the corridors we find more beds

Manicomio Di Voghera - Some of the stairwells are gated

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Some of the stairwells are gated

Manicomio Di Voghera - Upstairs we find many more items left behind

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Upstairs we find many more items left behind

Manicomio Di Voghera - Fully stocked bedroom with beds, a wheel chair and cupboards of medical items

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Fully stocked bedroom with beds, a wheel chair and cupboards of medical items

Manicomio Di Voghera - Some of the medical items including a syringe

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Some of the medical items including a syringe

Manicomio Di Voghera - A room containing a cot for babies

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Manicomio Di Voghera – A room containing a cot for babies

Manicomio Di Voghera - One of the more modest patient rooms

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Manicomio Di Voghera – One of the more modest patient rooms

Manicomio Di Voghera - Another bedroom

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Another bedroom

Manicomio Di Voghera - A room full of records and an EEG Machine

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Manicomio Di Voghera – A room full of records and an EEG Machine

Manicomio Di Voghera - EEG machines were used to record brain activity

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Manicomio Di Voghera – EEG machines were used to record brain activity

Manicomio Di Voghera - A wheelchair in a corridor

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Manicomio Di Voghera – A wheelchair in a corridor

Manicomio Di Voghera - The decorative ironwork doubles as a security measure to hinder the escape of patients

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Manicomio Di Voghera – The decorative ironwork doubles as a security measure to hinder the escape of patients

Manicomio Di Voghera - Some of the wards had terraces for the patients to use

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Some of the wards had terraces for the patients to use

Manicomio Di Voghera - The asylum had a fully equipped cobbler shop for repairing shoes

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Manicomio Di Voghera – The asylum had a fully equipped cobbler shop for repairing shoes

Manicomio Di Voghera - Some areas appear to have been abandoned more recently

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Manicomio Di Voghera – Some areas appear to have been abandoned more recently

Manicomio Di Voghera - An vintage operating table was tucked away in one of the buildings

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Manicomio Di Voghera – An vintage operating table was tucked away in one of the buildings

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