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Inmates at high-security Tuscan prison serve up Prosecco, hors d’oeuvres for foodies

Click to play video 'Popular Tuscan restaurant catered by inmates, hosted inside high-security prison' Popular Tuscan restaurant catered by inmates, hosted inside high-security prison
WATCH ABOVE: A restaurant inside a high-security prison in Tuscany has become one of Italy's most sought after reservations – Jul 24, 2017

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.

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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.

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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.

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“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.”

A group of inmates sing to guests who paid to enjoy a meal prepared by the prisoners at Fortezza Medicea. Credit: CBS
Guests enjoy wine and a candle-lit dinner prepared and served by inmates at Fortezza Medicea in Italy's Tuscany region. Credit: CBS
An inmate at Fortezza Medicea is engulfed in steam as he prepares pasta. Credit: CBS
A prison security guard watches on as cooks prepare a dinner to be served to guests who bought a ticket to eat a meal inside Fortezza Medicea. Credit: CBS
Fortezza Medicea is a high-security prison home to some of Italy's most violent criminals. Credit: CBS
Volterra, Italy. Credit: CBS
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An armed prison worker at Fortezza Medicea in Volterra, Italy stands guard as inmates prepare a dinner for guests hosted inside the jail. Credit: CBS
A prisoner serving a life sentence for murder at Fortezza Medicea pours a glass of Prosecco for a guest. Credit: CBS
Fortezza Medicea in Volterra, Italy. Credit: CBS

Guards keep a watchful eye over the dinner from lookout towers above, as prisoners serving time for murder serve and serenade guests.

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“(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