The Italian Villa Sbertoli is located in the city of Pistoia. At one time, it was one of the most famous psychiatric complexes in Europe, consisting of approximately 25 buildings.
Many of the structures are now ruins, and photographer Bas van der Poel recommends visiting only two or three buildings to enjoy the beauty of the Italian architectural style.
Agostino Sbertoli was a wealthy Italian merchant who acquired the villa in the middle of the 19th century.
The buildings had been built in the 1800s, not long before he purchased them as a family home. However, Agostino decided to establish a psychiatric hospital here instead after his son was born with a mental illness.
Consequently, Villa Sbertoli was transformed into a psychiatric hospital in 1868.
Agostino hoped this hospital would prove beneficial in treating his son and others who suffered from mental illnesses. He felt sure that the beautiful scenery and inclement weather would assist the patients housed there.
The number of patients gradually increased and Agostino was obliged to construct new buildings to offer them all the care they needed.
As the complex increased in size, so the fame of Villa Sbertoli spread throughout Italy. Many wealthy families sent their relatives and friends there since the hospital was known for its confidentiality.
Agostino Sbertoli passed away in December 1905 in his own hospital. He bequeathed all the belongings, including the villa, to charitable organizations that helped those with mental health problems.
He felt confident that, by doing this, his son would remain in good hands.
However, he transferred the management of the psychiatric hospital to his second son, Nino, who ran it until the 1920s when he transferred the hospital to private individuals.
During World War II, the buildings were used by the Nazis to hold political prisoners. When the war ended, the buildings were abandoned until 1950 when the municipality of Pistoia acquired the site.
After some renovations, the complex was reopened as a neuropsychiatric hospital.
The hospital kept going until 1978 when a reform of the Italian psychiatric system called the Law of Basaglia took place. In the wake of this law, psychiatric institutions began to close down, and Villa Sbertoli was no exception.
The hospital was closed down over time and 1990, the last building of the complex shut its doors for good.
Most buildings are in disrepair although the place still attracts visitors due to its decoratively plastered ceilings and beautiful wall paintings in some rooms. Urban explorers are drawn here to witness the state of abandonment that has accumulated over 30 years.
Currently, the complex is officially closed to the public although local citizens have access to Villa Sbertoli in order to regularly clean the water filter there that supplies the street.
Urban exploration websites suggest that the locals keep a close eye on this place and will inform the police if they spot anyone trespassing.
Bas van der Poel kindly gave us permission to use these photographs from his Maestro Photography website. He is a Dutch photographer with a passion for the beauty of decay.
Bas van der Poel has a gorgeous collection of photographs documenting unseen urban areas and illustrating the beauty of natural decay.