Compared to the most famous prison island “Alcatraz” (closed in 1963), this prison island of Gorgona is still in operation and is home for 90-120 prisoners. Prison staff and inmates estimated at 300. That makes almost one watchdog for each inmate. Gorgona is an Italian Mediterranean island, and the smallest island of the Tuscan Archipelago in the region of Tuscany. It is located in the Ligurian Sea, 35 km from the port of Livorno. The mood on the island is difficult to describe. Alcatraz was a dirty hole that had to close because of wetness and fungus that attacked the prisoners. Gorgona is visually a colorful paradise island with agriculture and cattle breeding. If this island would not be a prison, the tourists would put their hands in at summertime.
Moving around here on this island means being confronted with the extremes between paradisiacal beauty and oppressive solitude and captivity. The island is 2.23 km² in size. It has been home to an agricultural penitentiary since 1869. The island is mountainous, up to 225 m, and covered with pine trees. Almost as tall as the inmates in their criminal record, and the amount of imprisonment cannot be beated. The Gorgona residents are the “Créme de la Crème” of the allied prisoners of Italy. On Gorgona are the northernmost breeding grounds of the only coral gull inhabited in the Mediterranean. The coral gull are unique and as special as the inmates, who might find a small place on earth of complete peace and freedom for the first time in life?
I spend one day on Gorgona Island, here are my impressions about that trip. You are welcome to read my Gorgona Story and here we start …
There is no escape from Gorgona
Paradise Island and prison … how does that fit together?
Winegrowing on the island of Gorgona has been an important economic factor since 2013. Frescobaldi/ Marchesi de Frescobaldi dared the balancing act in 2015 and produced the Gorgona-Wine for the first time. A white wine that could not be more elaborate. Gorgona offers not only a top story of the wine, there is also an outstanding and perfect marketing behind it. Sustainability in production and artwork justify this high-end wine of its equal addiction.
The Royal House Frescobaldi led by Marchese Leonardo Frescobaldi and managed by Marchese Lomberto Frescobaldi is aware of its task and responsibility and has been acting exemplary for more than 700 years. The family has always tried to develop and celebrate the diversity of the Tuscan terroir.
“… Every prisoner is justly rewarded for his work”
Marchese Leonardo responds to my question of remuneration. The Italian state considers the sponsorship of the prisoners to be very positive, the Marchese explained.
And what about my question regarding the costs of board and lodge, is it covered 100% by the taxpayer? Or do the prisoners have to participate with their income?
This cannot be answered by the Frescobaldi family, and is at the discretion of the Italian Government. The fact is, that the inmates are free to dispose of the earned money so far. Furthermore, Frescobaldi gives each inmate who is involved in the production of the wine a certificate, which resembles a training certificate, to recommend themselves after the prison period with the certificate for the free labor market. According to rumors, there is already an inmate who has entered a job at Frescobaldi winery after the prison sentence on Gorgona Island. This has yet not been officially confirmed.
„Gorgona also has a very important educational factor that is not to be underestimated”
Among the inmates I have seen some young men, who are relocated as a deterrent to the island, and get a last chance, to be shaken awake again, to avoid a long term prison career.
Here are the heavy guys in an exclusive men’s board
This island with its educational resocialisation prison project and its inhabitants is unique. Here are the heavy guys in an exclusive men’s board, which look for his like. Whoever lands here is already dead, or at least a multiple killer with an extraordinary criminal record that scares all other Italian prisons.
The Italian Government and Frescobaldi as an employer have not given up the people.
For many prisoners I met, Gorgona is the real paradise in life, and a good place to resist the temptations in the real world. Finally they have found peace, harmony with nature and like-minded.
The only unfortunate people and real prisoners I have met on Gorgona Island, were the prison staff who spend their lives daily on the island at the sea and cannot follow a normal life with afterwork, friends and family.
For me as visitor and blogger Gorgona Island is a unique and special project I was allowed to participate in. I feel thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of it for one day.
Gorgona Wine 2016
Only 2.700 bottles each year
about 89,- Euro / 1,5 Liter Magnum
Cuvée Vermentino and Ansonica (Inzolia) grapes. White wine, with a nice straw-yellow color and good texture, yet with enough acidity and freshness, with exuberant notes of exotic fruits, camomile blossoms and nuts, with a splendid long finish.
Batin Mumcu advice:
My insider recommendations is Laudemio olive oil by Frescobaldi
My favourite wine is Mormoreto marchesi de frescobaldi castello nipozzano tuscany igp
(Batin Mumcu – Gorgona 2017 / www.berlinerweinpilot.de )
Please like, share and follow
on Facebook and social media!