Unusual nowadays this word has definitely no clear meaning. There are so little things we can call this way as in the millennials era we seem to accept, digest and acquire more information or strange situations that our ancestors would not even have thought about. Not to mention to think they could ever happen. I love discovering abandoned places. Some are creepy. Some mesmerizing. Some romantic. And some scare the shit out of you.
There is something mysterious about such place. Why was it abandoned? Which stories do the walls keep from us? How were people living there? They are old. They are deserted. They are empty.
They were closed for a reason.
Some time ago I have randomly heard about an abandoned mental hospital in Mombello, which is around 40 min by car from my place. It gave me goosebumps. I usually try to go on my own to those creepy places and then after first minute I regret doing that as I have no one to follow and hide myself behind, so I have used some strategy – namely sent a link to the place to a person I was quite convinced would like it. Just a feeling. Few days after the flight tickets were booked and I was getting ready for a trip. Mentally.
If you look up the place online, you won’t have a lot of information about it. Especially not in English, so it took me a while to find some notes, reviews and suggestions on how to get there and move there. I have asked around and people seemed to be slightly creep out that I would have even asked about it or haven’t even heard about the place (how could they not, no idea!).
Mombello is situated in Limbiate and is a very small village, which – not sure if because it is suggestive due to the aim of the trip – but looks quite weird and scary from the ‘gate’ to the city.
Imgine this the complex of almost 40,000 sqm filled with hospital beds, electrocardiograms, medical records. All this scattered on the floor and coming even from the 70s. Moreover the whole place is surrounded by 2 m high wall that were hiding in the past some tragic stories. Some experiments and I am sure very sad stories.
The complex includes few buildings. Surprisingly one of them seem to be used still as the houses of an institute for business appraiser and the Corberi, a halfway house for heavy mentally ills. What is interesting this is the building where Napoleon Bonaparte has spent few months during the war. Next to this, let’s call it main building, you can see abandoned little church/chapel. I really wish it was possible to visit it, but I think we didn’t have balls to cross the do not enter sign. Only in that place though. This villa was built for the noble family Pusterla and called Villa Crivelli Pusterla in 14th century. Over the years changing owners there were more buildings added and changed or renovated until being first abandoned in the late 19th century. Few years after, when the mental hospital in Senavra.
Initially there were supposed to be maximum 900 patients in that place, however, there were over 3500 of them.. and who knows what was the real number. To add up to the craziness of this place, at the beginning of 20th century, for 10 years, the italian psychiatrist – Ugo Cerletti – worked in Mombello, where he started his studies on experimental epilepsy which later conducted him to the invention of electroshock therapy… Am I the only one having very literal and weird images in my life of people suffering in those dark rooms?
In 1916 Mussolini has actually received a call from Mombello. Wondering why? Well, Benito Mussolini has been known for having affairs. This time it wasn’t different and he has been with Ida Dalser. When she got pregnant, Mussolini has already left her to get married few months after to another woman. In the meantime, he was trying to convince Ida to abortion, however, she gave a birth to the boy. The same one that died in Mombello 26 years after. Mussolini made sure that Ida was kept in the asylum and did not interrupt his life. She passed away in Venice after being moved there from Trento. As for the son, he was adopted by one of the Duce of Regime’s followers – Giuli Bernardi. He graduated from the naval school in La Spezia and then sailed to China where he has heard about his mum’s (step mother to be more accurate) death. He came back, but he suffered a lot of pain which was mistaken by the mental ilness and was closed in Mombello. Most likely he has been treated there for over 2 years, however, his condition was worsening and inevitably led to his death at the very young age. That was when Mussolini got the information from this creepy place.
Mysteriously the reason of his death remained unknown. His body was buried at the cementary in Limbiate.
Walking through the hallways of the buildings it is difficult not to have the feeling that you are being observed. The writings on the walls looking at you from each side. Realizing that uring the First World War, the former Psychiatric Hospital of Limbiate assigned two pavilions for veterans traumatized by the war in the trenches, and whose extreme drama was clearly shown by recent studies gives you additional thrill… Here the soldiers were subjected to clinotherapy or rest therapy and a re-energising diet. The empty chairs and plates burnt by the sun, keeping the stories undiscovered. There were not many photographing enthusiasts there, so the complete silence of the place made you think. How much suffering must have taken place in such a, in the end, small complex. Then you discover that there is more to that. While walking in the park you discover the stairs to the tunnels. If you want to discover them better, make sure to bring good boots, helmets and torches. As we were not prepared for that and I would definitely have a heart attack, I can only tell… I saw darkness that felt like cutting my skin in pieces due to the chills that was giving me. Yes, that was the moment when I started hiding, but took a deep breath and chose the direction to the second floor…
Just few moments after walking up the stairs and realizing how dangerous is the ceiling, we have heard some noises downstairs. Those were some teenagers throwing stuff and running away. You can’t imagine how scared I got that those were fireworks… I mean what kind of parents let their kids playing in Mombello? It took a lot of self-control in order to walk very carefully downstairs and not run and scream. I don’t know if I looked calm – I was trying to, but inside I felt every single, strong heart beat…
If you move around the complex you will notice stairs in the park, slightly hidden, leading you to another two buildings and the greenhouse. There we literally didn’t meet anyone. Except for a snake… Not sure what would have been better. (Un)fortunately, we also didn’t find anything weird on the photos taken. No dingy silhouettes, afterglows, strange figures… If we did, I think I would be the next patient of the mental hospital …
The official reason for closing the place – as mentioned before, during the war there were too many patients and afterwards reaching over 3500 of them, which required opening new branches and moving them all in the 90s of 20th century.
But who knows what was really happening behind the closed walls… Now you can only imagine the history of this place through the suggestive graffiti created by street artists or some vandals, that in the end gave this place the special, undiscovered, feeling.
No object is mysterious. The mystery is your eye.