This Abandoned Italian Prison Island Will Become A Mediterranean Vacation Spot

Would you consider a vacation to the Italian version of Alcatraz? Officials in Italy have plans to renovate a centuries old prison on a deserted island and turn it into a tourist destination.

July 27, 2021

Santo Stefano Island with its bourbon prison and Cala Nave beach at Sunset, on July 14, 2020 in Ventotene, Italy. [Photo by Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images]

Santo Stefano Island with its bourbon prison and Cala Nave beach at Sunset, on July 14, 2020 in Ventotene, Italy. [Photo by Alessandra Benedetti - Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images]

Related To:

The Santo Stefano Prison stands atop a tiny volcanic Island in an archipelago off Italy’s west coast in the Tyrrhenian Sea. The prison has been abandoned since it closed in 1965, though tourists do occasionally make the trek to the remote island.

Unlike Alcatraz’s proximity to San Francisco (just 1.5 miles into the bay), Santo Stefano and its neighboring island, Ventotene, are 28 miles from the coast of mainland Italy.

The Italian government plans to spend $86 million to turn the crumbling facility into a museum and event space. Outbuildings, like the jailer’s quarters, would be turned into a hostel, while other buildings would be turned into restaurants and shops.

The prison, built in the late 1700s, had its 99 cells arranged in 33 blocks on each of three stories, according to CNN. It was the site of revolts and coups, and it housed political prisoners, criminals, and anarchists.

In 1860, inmates actually took control of the prison while the majority of the guards were deployed to fight in the Italian army. The inmates formed a government and wrote laws, naming themselves the Republic of Santo Stefano. Their society existed until Italian soldiers made it back to the island in 1861 and brought the inmates back under control.

The renovations on the prison island are expected to be completed sometime in 2025 and could bring an economic boost to Ventotene, where there are less than 1,000 permanent residents.

Next Up

Island Adventure Travel

Even if you're not practicing for the next season of Survivor, indulging in an island vacation can quickly become a dose of the extreme.

Poveglia Island's Haunted History

Ghost Adventures investigate Poveglia Island, used to exile plague victims and mental patients, near Venice, Italy.

21 Mind-Blowing Escapes

Natural wonders and once-in-a-lifetime experiences that will change your perspective.

Europe's Earth Wonders

Visit Iceland and Norway to experience Europe's natural wonders with glaciers, volcanoes and fjords galore.

10 Best Treks Around the World

See our picks for the top 10 hiking treks around world.

Greek Islands Weekend Guide

See the caldera for yourself and enjoy the local food, culture and picture-perfect sights during a weekend getaway to Santorini.

This Jail is One of Louisiana’s Most Haunted Sites

Some of the inmates never left this haunted jail in western Louisiana, and it turns out their warden may have remained in order to keep them in line.

Extreme Whitewater Rafting

Get an adrenaline rush! Plan an extreme whitewater rafting adventure!

‘The Heaviest One’: Ghost Adventures Crew Still Rattled After Goatman’s Bridge Encounter

By day, it’s an Instagram-worthy photo spot, but at night, the abandoned Texas bridge takes on a sinister air. Add Goatman’s Bridge to your haunted hotspot bucket list.

On TV

Trending Now

Follow Us Everywhere

Join the party! Don't miss Travel Channel in your favorite social media feeds.