Pianosa

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Coordinates: 42°35′N 10°05′E / 42.583°N 10.083°E / 42.583; 10.083

Pianosa Island
Native name: Isola di Pianosa
Costa occidentale Pianosa (LI).jpg
west coast, Isola di Pianosa.
Tuscan archipelago.png
Pianosa and the Tuscan archipelago, Italy
Geography
Location Tyrrhenian Sea
Archipelago Tuscan Archipelago
Area 10.25 km2 (3.96 sq mi)
Highest elevation 29 m (95 ft)
Country
Italy
Region Tuscany
Province Livorno
Commune Campo nell'Elba
Demographics
Population 10 (as of 2001)
Density 1 /km2 (3 /sq mi)

The small island of Pianosa (Italian pronunciation: [pjaˈnoːsa]), about 10.25 km2 (3.96 sq mi) in area, forms part of Italy's Tuscan Archipelago. Its name comes from the Italian pianura (plain). Its highest point stands 22 m (72 ft) above sea level. Pianosa is part of the Elba island municipality.

Geography[edit]

On clear days, Elbans see Pianosa as a dark blue line over the lighter blue sea. Pianosa was the site of a maximum-security prison (1858–1998), in later years holding especially dangerous Mafia criminals, although the island is not now inhabited for the whole year. Cell phones do not work on the island.

It is part of the Arcipelago Toscano National Park. It is a Marine Protected Area — no fishing, diving, or anchoring is allowed without special permit. During the tourist season it is connected by boat to Elba.

History[edit]

The island was first inhabited in the Upper Palaeolithic (the Late Stone Age). The ancient Romans' Planasia had buildings including a theater and catacombs on two levels. It was extensively cultivated by the Romans. It became noted in history when the princeps Augustus banished his grandson and ex-heir Agrippa Postumus there in 6 or 7 AD.[1] Postumus remained there until his execution around the death of Augustus in 14 AD.

In the Middle Ages the island's ownership was disputed by Pisa and Genoa. In 1399, it became part of Piombino. There were small colonies during fishing season in the following centuries, as well as several military strongholds.

Although 18th century documents report that it was once densely wooded, humans and the animals they brought have destroyed the trees on the island, which is now largely grassland.

Namesake in Apulia[edit]

Another island named Pianosa, of the Isole Tremiti archipelago, lies off the Adriatic coast in the Apulia region of southern Italy, north of Monte Gargano.

In fiction[edit]

Joseph Heller's absurdist novel Catch-22 is set on a U.S. Army Air Corps bomber squadron base on Pianosa during World War II, but Heller conceded that he took literary license in making Pianosa big enough for a major military complex. Heller's island also has a small community of Italian villagers, unlike the real island.

Heller's bomber squadron, the 488th Bombardment Squadron, was based for a time in the Foggia Airfield Complex on the Adriatic coast. Although the larger Tuscan Pianosa is best placed for the missions described in the novel, such as those to Avignon and Bologna, it is likely that Heller first heard the name in connection with the smaller island.

References[edit]

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