Elba – Pianosa | An Italian prison island frozen in time

Elba, where Napoleon was first banished to and escaped from. Pianosa, where the most dangerous mafiosi served time. This post is dedicated to the eerily beautiful island of Pianosa, a stone’s throw away from the Tuscan island of Elba.

The only way to visit the island is to contact a special guided tour operator and the maximum number of participants is 200 people per day. It is not possible to visit the island on your own initiative, as special permits are required, but once you get there you can participate in guided bike tours (recommended) for example.

The island’s highlights include:

  • the largest early Christian catacombs north of Rome
  • the ruins of Villa Agrippa Postumus
  • the ruins of Forte del Marchese
  • the splendid ‘calas’ or beaches
  • a stroll through ‘downtown’ Pianosa

On the web, there’s no abundance of information in English on Pianosa island to be found. But the Wikipedia page saves the day for a good read on the island’s history.

 

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House of the seed program manager. A job more important than the island’s administrator. The house is a Sicilian baroque extravaganza reminding us of Visconti’s movie Il Gattopardo.

 

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Fort in eclectic style with Moorish influences.

 

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The largest early Christian catacombs north of Rome.

 

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The small port.

 

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Palazzo della Specola

 

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The lighthouse and police headquarters.

 

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Beyond the wall… tourists are off-limits.

 

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Downtown, the day after a marriage.

 

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Entrance to the forbidden zone, which is +/- 90% of the island.

 

The local cemetery is now in disuse and abandoned. Many penitentiary police officers working in the penal colony are buried here.

 

 

The ‘pollaio razionale’ or the chicken coop.

 

Ruins of the Forte del Marchese.

 

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Tourist picnic zone and gateway to the beach.

 

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Chrystal clear Caribbean like seas.

 

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The great wall. A stark contrast with the leisure activities on and near the beach.

 

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One of the views you get from the bike tour. View over the ‘city’.

 

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Sneak peek/pic from behind the wall.

 

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More info

http://www.pianosa.net (only in Italian) – all about Pianosa

http://www.hotelpianosa.it (only in Italian) – hotel on Pianosa

http://www.lifeinitaly.com/tourism/campania/pianosa-island – article on Pianosa

http://www.associazionepianosa.it (only in Italian) –  Pianosa association

http://www.understandingitaly.com/tuscany-content/tuscan-islands.html – all the Tuscan islands

http://edition.cnn.com/2014/07/22/travel/italy-prison-islands  – all Italian prison islands

http://www.lagazzettadelmezzogiorno.it/english/government-considers-reopening-island-prison-of-pianosa-no627233 – future plans regarding Pianosa