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Vercelli Psychiatric Hospital

3 min read

Historically, Vercelli mental asylum was built in the 1930s and was closed in 1978 after the Basaglia Law, that abolished mental hospitals in Italy. Of its 21 buildings, scattered over an area of 25,000 sqm, only one is still in use and it hosts the office of the environmental association ARPA, while the local health authority, which officially still manages the complex, left the area during the 1990s. This place is well known for the massacre of a group of fascist soldiers that happened between 12th and 13th May 1945 as retaliation by partisans. The news are few and not always certain, but here they were executed summarily and in a very bloody way, by some partisans of the 182th Garibaldi Brigade “Pietro Camana”, a group of Italian Social War soldiers taken from the stadium of Novara, at the time used at the prison camp.

Now the humidity ate away the walls of this old psychiatric hospital.
The sun is shining outside, but inside these buildings it’s dark, apart from a feeble light that, filtered over the windows, comes in green-ish and dusty.
The plaster is crumbled but still vivid and, on these colourful walls, humidity and time have created abstract artworks, mixing the touch of abandonment with the intervention of the nature which painting the walls with bright green moss and embroidering every surface with dark green ivy.
Hidden behind thick vegetation, which once must have been a beautiful garden of tree-lined boulevards, there are the twenty-one buildings comprising the huge former psychiatric hospital of Vercelli, Italy. They all have the same architectural plan, with long hallways linking a series of small rooms with now open doors in a long perspective of desolation.

Rubble from ceilings and walls lies on every surface as if it were dust, and even if the hospital has been vandalized, there are still some objects from its disturbing past like psychiatry magazines, books and wheelchairs.
Scattered all over the floors there are medical records and really lot of documents still intact with photos and personal datas of former patients. Some have been consumed by humidity and faded by time, but the major part still remember a few names from the darkness of the oblivion.
The silence of a psychiatric hospital, like in others mental asylum like Colorno or Granzette, is different from the silence of every other abandoned place, because still speaks about what happened there….

Text in Collaborations, Anya and Danijel.
All Photos are by two authors.
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