History of Ventotene
In spite of its small geographic extension, the island of Ventotene is proud of its historical reverences and developments whose testimonials offer themselves to the interested visitor still today.
First settlements already existed in the Bronze Age. After a slow Roman settlement, the islands of the pontine archipelago were integrated around 450 B.C. into the Roman Republic. Because of their loyalty to the alliance in volsci and punic wars, Rome granted to them important privileges. But only by the emperor Augustus basic infrastructures were built.
In the year 2 A.D. Augustus exiled his daughter Julia mainly for hereditary, political reasons to Ventotene. Julia and her servants inhabited a 4500 square metre villa in the northeast corner of the island. The remains of «Villa Giulia» reveal themselves to the visitor of today as a valuable antique site, just as other testimonials (ex. cisterns) of Roman and Bourbon times.
Until to the reign of the Bourbons, the island was only weakly settled, among others by Benedictine's monks.
Very important for the further development of the island was the year 1768, in which Bourbon king Ferdinand IV sent about hundred prisoners to establish a big prison complex on the small neighbour island, in hard drudgery work.
The prison island Santo Stefano was operated for 200 years till 1965 and «accommodated» under awful conditions at times up to one thousand prisoners, among them many political persecutees, for example the later president of the Italian Republic, Sandro Pertini. Santo Stefano is listed as official world cultural heritage.
Highest historical and actual importance is assigned to the «European Manifesto». It was developped and written in highest secrecy by a small group of political prisoners at Santo Stafano and Ventotene, and later secretly «smuggled» to the European continent. The Manifesto of Ventotene is the approved foundation-stone for our common Europe. Its highest importance was clearly visible only recently, on the occasion of the visit of the heads of state of Germany, France and Italy in 2016. Once more, Ventotene serves as the important ground for a united and solidary Europe.