The String Man
Located at at an undisclosed place in Italy
Photo © 2009 Tom Kirsch, opacity.us
Manicomio Montedale* History
Resting atop a series of tall hills lining the Italian coast are the remnants of what was once a large provincial asylum for the insane. Over 100 acres of land were set aside for this hospital, which was built in 1907 to alleviate the overcrowding of the nearby town's small asylum. Although the complex opened in 1910, many buildings were added through the 1930s, creating a self-sufficient community of doctors, nurses, patients and workers.
A central church was constructed in 1933, and decorated by a painter who was committed to the hospital that same year. The paintings were completed in 1937, and are now regarded as one of the most complete examples of art therapy. These paintings, along with an elaborate but fragile nativity scene created by patients in the early 1980s remains on-site but damaged from neglect. Efforts have been made in recent years to stabilize the buildings to keep these pieces intact, however access to the entire hospital is restricted.
Although the hospital officially closed in 1998 in response to Law 180, a few outlying buildings remained operational for psychiatric treatment. Construction on two new treatment pavilions started in September 2011 to join the old structures that have remained in use over the years. The old abandoned buildings located on the main campus are patrolled and slated for remediation.
* Note: the name "Manicomio Montedale" is a pseudonym; the real name of this location is currently undisclosed.