Prisoners walk through a yard of Rome's historic Regina Coeli, or Queen of Heaven jail - an appealing name for an institution that, in reality, is a very long way from paradise.
Inmates at the prison have found themselves living in spaces stuffed well beyond capacity, in some cases with three prisoners crowded into a cell meant for just one. The issue is part of a chronic problem with overcrowding in jails across Italy, which has affected the country for years.
6 Jun 2013. ROME, Italy. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Fifty-eight-year-old prisoner Cesare Cececotto checks laundry in his cell at the jail, which houses more than 1,000 prisoners - well over its capacity of 700.
Italian prisons are the most crowded in the European Union, with close to 67,000 detainees held in jails built for 45,000, according to rights group Antigone.
Chronic overcrowding, which the government declared an emergency in 2010, is caused by Italy's slow-moving justice system and a failure to build new detention facilities by a state mired in recession.
Italy is trying to ease the problem, having passed a decree at the end of June to reduce pre-trial detention and to encourage alternatives to jail time for minor offences.
12 Jun 2013. ROME, Italy. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
Giuseppe Rampello, a 63-year-old inmate at Regina Coeli, says that cramped conditions cause particular tensions because prisoners tend to come from a wide variety of backgrounds.
"We are talking about a prison where you can be in a cell with people with six different languages, six different habits, where there is one who prays as an observant Muslim five times a day and another who swears five times a minute," he said.
"There is one who eats pork and one who cannot bear to look at it. There is one who never washes and one who washes all the time. This is the problem," he added.
10 Jun 2013. ROME, Italy. REUTERS/Tony Gentile
The buildings of the jail stand among trees in Rome.