Elba Island: a journey to the ancient mystery of Pianosa’s catacombs

catacombs pianosa

How to add that touch of mystery that will let your holiday be very special? Pianosa Island is about 13 kilometers far from Elba Island. A place that seems far, far away from modernity. While its catacombs seem to get lost in an ancient past.


The history

The catacombs were realized between the III and the IV century, when the first Christian communities took up residence on the island, maybe after the persecution of Diocletian. Pianosa was in that period a perfect place to live: sea was rich of life, the isle was easy to protect and the rock easy to be dug.


The catacombs

The complex of catacombs of Pianosa consisted in more than 500 burial recesses, about 200 tunnels and not less than 700 entombments. It’s one of the biggest complex of catacombs north of Rome.

Along the sides of the galleries, very short, there are three different and overlapping kinds of entombments. Only the most important persons could have a sepulcher in the shape of a bath tub.

Across the centuries, catacombs were deprived after the  raids of the pirate. Then they were used as dumps, and just in the recent years recovered and opened to the public.


The mistery

The catacombs are an evident testimony of the fact that a big Christian community lived on the isle. But there’s no official document that attests the presence. Moreover, the isle was abandoned in the I century, maybe after the assassination of Agrippa, while the catacombs date back to III-IV century. Too early for a community which is presumed to be very big.


How to visit them

The entrance to the catacombs of Pianosa is not so far from the port of the isle. You’ll enter passing through a gate where the keeper narrate the story and other interesting anecdotes of the site. The entrance costs 5 euros.


Image source: Flickr.com/photos/scorz