Ventotene is tiny, with an area of just 1.2 sq km and in so exposed a position - to
the west of Gaeta - that the difficult living conditions have frequently seen it left
uninhabited for long periods.
The Romans built a harbour and villas there, and would use the island as a place to
house Imperial exiles.
More recently it would again provide an ideal lock-up for convicts and political
dissidents, with the lifers' jail on Santo Stefano having only closed in 1965.
Today the prison is a tourist curiosity, and Santo Stefano is again uninhabited,
however Ventotene has developed into a popular holiday destination - with its winter
population of 600 swelling to several thousand in high season.