Asinara was a prison island

Asinara was a prison island

Asinara, an island located at the tip of north western Sardinia in Italy, is famous as a nature reserve, but what was even more interesting to me was that it was a prison island.

the building of Fornelli

There used to be 12 prisons on the island.

The first thing we went on a tour on the Trenino was the prison ruins.

Moreover, it was a prison named Fornelli, which is said that it was the “strongest prison in the world”.

The island became a prison island in 1885, and about 500 inhabitants who had lived there were expelled from the island.

During the subsequent World War I, Austro-Hungarian POWs were brought to this point on foot.

Initially there were 70,000 POWs and many of them died on the way, and 24,000 arrived here.

It was said that when they arrived on the island, they had little food and ate toxic plants that resembled onions, killing an additional 8,000 people.

In more recent years, Fornelli housed political prisoners.

Italy-Sardinia-Asinara-prison-Fornelli-building-blue door
on the other side of the Fornelli prison

In addition, the mafia bosses and the left-wing terrorist “Red Brigades” were also imprisoned here.

At one point, the intelligent criminal “Red Brigades” exploded a coffee machine and tried to escape from the ceiling, but failed because the ceiling was also solidified.

They pierced the walls to make a large room and shut themselves up and fought against the police and the army, but in the end, gas was used and the rebellion was suppressed.

This was the only major incident, and in the end, no one escaped from this prison, so it was the strongest prison in the world.

Prison Fornelli door
ageing door of the Fornelli

However, it was closed in 1997 due to the growing voice of the surrounding residents who disliked the gathering of the worst criminals and the high maintenance costs.

There is a room with one chair in this building, and tourists who saw this said that it was an execution room with an electric chair, but in fact, this room was a barber shop.

So they were concerned about the appearance of the felons, too in Italy.

We couldn’t go inside because the building is aging and dangerous now, which was a shame.

Not all of the 12 prisons on the island were so strong and some were open prisons for prisoners who also worked making wine and cheese and worked as shepherds, and there was a prison dedicated to sex offenders, too.

Sardinia in Italy
the ruin of a castle

It seems that it is still the case worldwide, but sex offenders are often assaulted by other criminals, so they were in a separate building to protect them.

There were prisoners who escaped from a relatively loosely guarded prison and tried to escape to a small island between Asinara and Sardinia, but the tide around here was so strong that they were all found dead.

By the way, I saw something like a castle ruin on the mountain.

This is a castle built around 1100 AD, and it was a base for guards when there were prisons.

[Sept. 2020]