DO TIME ON AN ISLAND
You know… Alcatraz, USA
Prison islands hold a fascination beyond voyeurism, and few are more famous than San Francisco’s Alcatraz, which ferries 1.7 million people a year onto its inescapable shores.
But what about… Pianosa, Italy
The former Italian penal colony of Pianosa limits visitors to just 250 a day, with barely a handful arriving on the island outside summer. Yet for 150 years this was a open prison where inmates wandered freely and worked the fields (their used machinery still lies rusting). Guides will tell you the Mafia had it shut down because it worked too well, but the island has at last found peace as a nature reserve.
Day trippers from Piombino or Elba can stroll its 19th-century battlements, leafy shores and crumbling cells, still piled high with prison records. But Pianosa’s history dates back further: its Roman ruins and 4th-century catacombs, built by early Christian settlers, are worth the trip in themselves.