Wanderlust Travel Magazine (UK) - - Travel Secrets -

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.

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