Jail food isn’t typically thought of as hors d’oeuvres with a glass of Prosecco.
But a prison in Volterra, Italy that’s serving up aperitivo and pasta has become one of the most sought after places to get a reservation.
The Fortezza Medicea, a 13th-century fortress, which is now a modern high-security prison, operates a restaurant that has become a unique location for locals and tourists to indulge in Tuscan cuisine.
The novel dining experience requires guests to complete background checks, go through metal detectors, forfeit their phones and even eat with plastic utensils. That’s because the meals are prepared and served by the prison’s inmates, many of whom have been incarcerated for violent crimes and drug trafficking.
The exclusive dinners inside the jail’s church are served just eight times per year and act as an opportunity for the prisoners to be rehabilitated through cooking. Inmates work alongside a professional chef to learn the basics of the kitchen.
“We’ve been doing these dinners for over 11 years and about 30 young men now work in restaurants,” prison warden Maria Grazia Giampiccolo told CBS. “One owns a restaurant.”
Guards keep a watchful eye over the dinner from lookout towers above, as prisoners serving time for murder serve and serenade guests.
“(Prison life) is like a photocopy machine — you leave your cell, you go to work, you work out,” inmate-turned waiter Arena Aniello told Reuters. “The day is always the same, it becomes a habit. So this is a great thing.”
A plate costs more than $50, but all the money raised goes to charity.
“We’ve raised over $140,000 for charity and had over 14,000 guests,” Grazia Giampiccolo says.
For details on how to reserve a table, visit Galeotta Dinners.
— With files from Reuters