Giulia is the only woman among 10 prisoners


Pianosa prison islandGiulia is the only woman among 10 prisoners

Italian Giulia Manca was vacationing on the island of Pianosa in the Mediterranean. Ten prisoners are employed there in the only hotel. But a new administrator was missing.

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Italian Giulia Manca decided to move to Pianosa in 2011.


The small Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea functions as a prison.

The small Italian island in the Mediterranean Sea functions as a prison.

imago images/UIG

There, Manca leads a team of ten convicted felons who work at the hotel.

There, Manca leads a team of ten convicted felons who work at the hotel.


That’s what it’s about

  • Giulia Manca lives and works on the prison island of Pianosa.

  • She deals with ten criminals every day.

  • However, the project is very successful considering the recidivism rate.

A few years ago, Giulia Manca accepted a special job: she manages the only hotel on the Italian island of Pianosa in the Mediterranean Sea. The fact that she has to deal with ten prisoners every day doesn’t bother her. On the contrary: «I’m not afraid. I feel safer here than in the city with all the crazy people out there. You never know who you’re going to bump into.”

The island of Pianosa is not just any island. Often called “Italy’s Alcatraz” or “Devil’s Island”, this ten square kilometer small island functions as a prison. The convicted criminals – including murderers – work in the only accommodation that offers eleven rooms for tourists. The prisoners work in the Hotel Milena as cooks, gardeners, waiters, beach cleaners and dishwashers. Giulia Manca is their boss. The prisoners are also monitored by a prison guard.

Prisoners need a second chance

The woman tells the US broadcaster CNN how she got this job in the first place. «I spent my holidays here in 2011 and loved it. I didn’t want to go home.” But Manca was even more fascinated by the rehabilitation project, which gives offenders “a second chance in life,” as she explains. The trained travel agent learned from the hotel manager at the time that the accommodation was in financial difficulties and might have to close. That would have meant the detainees would have had to be transferred back to an ordinary prison on the mainland.

“I had felt like I had to do something to help them. Otherwise they would not have had a chance to start over and learn a trade that could help them after they were released,” says the Italian. And so, against the advice of her family and friends, she moved to Pianosa. Today the hotel is back in the black: it has now become a popular venue for weddings and birthday parties.

She has never had a problem with the inmates in twelve years, Manca assures. Although she sometimes has to deal with criminals – “no one is here because they just stole a bouquet of flowers,” she says – but the secret of her success lies in the fact that she draws clear boundaries. Her relationship with employees is “characterized by mutual respect,” explains Manca. She succeeded in doing this by finding “a balance between distance and an authoritarian but open attitude”.

The balance of the project is extremely positive: Of the hundreds of criminals who have taken part in the “Pianosa Model” over the years and have since been released, only 0.01 percent have reoffended.

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Deborah Acker

I write epic fantasy; self-published via KDP. Devoted dog mom to my 10 yr old GSD, Shadow! DM not a priority; slow response at best #amwriting #author.

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