From Penal Colony to Paradise

Well, sort of… “If there’s something leaving the penal colony to offer you paradise pleasure, – our italian friends say, – it’s not the prisoners staying there, but the wine!”

On the Gorgona Island located off the Tuscany coast in Italy the prisoners work in the vineyard to produce among 2700 and 3000 bottles per year. This wine is then being sold at about fifty euros per bottle to several well-known restaurants praising the incredible taste of it. Moreover, you can find it in one of the best restaurants in Florence, rated three stars by the Michelin Guide.

This prison on the Island was founded in 1969 and has been functioning in almost complete isolation from the continent since. It counts forty prisoners who are not wine growers but real bandits and outriders convicted of murder.

The Gorgona Island prisoners are paid by the Marquesi Francesco de Frescobaldi, a 700-year-old wine-grower dynasty, participating in the “reintegration by agriculture” program.

Planted in 1999 on the rich mineral soils of the smallest Tuscany Archipelago island, 37 kilometers off the Livorno port, the vineyard occupies 2,5 acres (1 hectare) facing east.

Abandoned for some time, the vineyard was brought back to life in 2009 by a sicilian prisoner – wine grower, who left his place after serving his sentence to other prisoners sharing the same passion for the vineyards.

A reintegration program where the vineyard gives as much as it receives,

In Vino Veritas …

(photo: copyright Alessandro Bianchi, Reuters)

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