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Report - Asinara prison island, abandoned - Sardinia, Italy: Nov 2012

Discussion in 'European and International Sites' started by barneyrow, Jan 2, 2013.

  1. barneyrow

    barneyrow 28DL Member
    28DL Member

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    Hi all

    I'm new, and this will probably be my only report. I'm more of a viewer than a do-er, I enjoy looking through the asylum and hospital reports on 28DL. Recently I went on a trip for my uni course (BA architecture) to an uninhabited island that used to be a high security prison, called Asinara. Just thought someone out there might find a bit of brief history and some exploratory photos of this place interesting. So here goes, and apologies for the image quality and watermarks.

    Essentially, we stayed for a week in November in one of the only habitable buildings left at Cala D'Oliva bay (http://tinyurl.com/a5vf4mc). We were provided with meals, but for the most part left to explore by ourselves. So most of these photos are from places I came across that I found particularly interesting.

    I wrote down the following historical info from an interview with Gian Maria, the main prison manager in the final years before the prison shut down, who had worked on the island for 32 years.

    Because of its separation from mainland Sardinia, the island of Asinara was always the perfect location for a prison because escapees would not be able to swim ashore. The view it has of the mainland from many of the cells was considered an important means of motivation for prisoners to behave so that they could be released earlier and return to civilisation. Asinara was a prison from as early as 1518, but only in modern history did it reach its prime with 8 different sites that divided prisoners by sentence lengths and criminal offences (site for mass murderers of the Mafia and Red Brigade, site for young offenders with short sentences, site for child sex offenders etc). During the prisons modern history only one man ever escaped in 1986 when he was working the fields and a boat picked him up from an un-patrolled part of the more dangerous coastline. Also, around 5000 prisoners have died on the island. Asinara closed in 1997 because by this time more modern prisons had been built on mainland Italy. Since then, many parts of the island have been left untouched and any form of building and tourism is prohibited due to the islands status as a National Park. We were therefore very grateful that Gian Maria was showing us around and unlocking old prison sites for us. Now for some pictures.

    We arrived by boat at the Southern point of the island, so had a look at the Fornelli prison site first. This was the high security prison which had been used mainly for the Mafia, prisoners serving life sentences for multiple counts of murder. Here is a pano of the main inner courtyard - the mountain behind would've been the only visible part of the outside world.

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    One of the arterial corridors:

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    The inside of a cell:

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    Another courtyard space at this first prison site:

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    The following photo shows a section of the outermost wall that foiled one of the only serious mass-escape attempts during the prisons history. Apparently, the prisoners blasted through the inner courtyard wall, scaled the next wall onto this roof, but when they reached the edge of this roof they hadn't anticipated the high drop pictured here. Thus they couldn't actually escape, but came incredibly close.

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    Now, here is a photo of the small village of Cala D'Oliva in the northeastern coast of Asinara. It is currently uninhabited, although several properties are periodically maintained. We stayed in the large white building on the left of the photo, up the hill. Note the communications tower down near the dock, dead central in the photo. As soon as I saw that tower, I knew I had to find a way to climb up it.

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    And I did! It was pretty windy and there were three rusted iron hatches to lift open, but I got to the top, and the view was great. Here's one looking back down a section of the tower at my mate George.

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    Next, a cement mixer near Cala D'Oliva, makes one wonder what could cause someone to leave the island so quickly that they didn't even have time to stow their spade?

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    And finally, some photos of abandoned guards' houses experiencing serious degradation:

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    Internal shots:

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    Details (I have several more texture shots if anyone is interested, wasn't sure if I could put them up because they might be too modified):

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    A set of doors into the child sex offenders site. This was one of the only places we weren't allowed in (and couldn't find a way in later on!):

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    Last view of Asinara the morning we left, from the pier at Cala Reale:

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    Thanks a lot for reading my report, I hope you found something in it of interest to you. Any questions are welcome!

    Happy new year!
    -Barney
     

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