Giudecca's Correctional Facility

Meraviglie by Rio Terà dei Pensieri

Meraviglie cosmetic products originate from the non-profit project  Rio Terà dei Pensieri with the goal of creating natural products with a high quality and a high ethical value. We strive to give back dignity and hope to the inmates that work daility with us towards this project. 

A DIFFERENT KIND OF PRISON

Unique cosmetics could only be born in a unique place – the women’s prison in Venice.

The Giudecca women’s prison is a different place from what you imagine a prison: several times we find ourselves thinking that it is a beautiful place, and then immediately afterwards you realise that such a place can be anything but beautiful. It is different because almost all of the inmates work, because there is a special section for mothers – even if the law requires these sections to exist, it is not easy to find active ones in Italy – and it is different because it is only for women.

In a prison world where 96% of prisoners are male, women are forced to serve their sentence in separate sections of male prisons, whereas the Giudecca Prison is one of the five all-female prisons in Italy. This means that inmates find an environment designed for them.

The house of imprisonment is located in an ancient monastery founded in the twelfth century. Shortly after 1600 it became a hospice run by nuns for “redeemed” prostitutes and gave its name to the street where the main entrance is still located today: the Converted’s street. In 1859 the Austrian government gave nuns the task of managing prisons. At the time, the Mother Superior was also the director.

In the Giudecca prison, which can accommodate up to one hundred women, each one of the prisoners take a different path on the path to re-education, rehabilitation and freedom: as the law requires, they can study, do recreational activities and work; when it comes to work, the most remarkable workplaces for these women (that can be employed in housework, ordinary maintenance laundry, and tailoring) are the cosmetic laboratory and the vegetable garden.

The inmates in the latter two areas collaborate with the social cooperative Rio Terà dei Pensieri and create the heart of what is our passion and our business: the natural cosmetics of Meraviglie.

Thanks to the work done in the vegetable garden and in the cosmetic laboratory, the prisoners have the opportunity to get away from their cells and worries for a few hours, and can gradually recover that dignity and that sense of trust and hope that are a key factor in preparing them to face the return to freedom . The investment in personal and work training is a fundamental and indispensable component of the treatment proposal aimed at women prisoners.

Click here if you want to know more about the cooperative’s activities.