After a long court battle with military authorities, it was just announced that the Comune of Venezia -- Venice's city government -- has been awarded possession of a little island with a somber past: Lazzaretto Nuovo. It was there, in 1468, that an isolation hospital was built for those who were suspected of having the bubonic plague. So if you were a relative or intimate of someone who had or had died of the plague, you might have gotten a surprise knock on the door and a complimentary boat ride to this 2 hectare patch of land poking out of the lagoon off of Sant' Erasmo.
While forced wintering on Lazzaretto Nuovo would have been a immense drag, it was like a beach party on Ibiza compared to being consigned to Lazzaretto Vecchio, the other plague isolation hospital (near the Lido), where those who actually had full-blown cases of the plague were locked up. That, as you can imagine, was almost always a one-way gondola ride.
Lazzaretto Nuovo has extraordinary archeological value and is a lovely little place today, so it's a great thing the city managed to snag it. It's thought to have been inhabited perhaps as far back as the Bronze Age, though there is solid evidence dating to at least 1015. The monks of San Giorgio Maggiore built a church there in the 12th century, when it was known as Vigna Murada (literally, "walled vineyard"), and it has had military importance to Venice and its occupiers, owing to its strategic position near the Porto di Lido, the main door into Venice from the Adriatic.