After various attempts to colonize Montecristo in 1878, after the Unification of Italy, a penal prison was established there. The island is probably best known as a fictional setting in the novel “The Count of Monte Cristo” by Alexandre Dumas, but the actual island does not correspond closely to the description in the novel. Monte Cristo is Italian for “The mountain of Christ”, which has led some to believe it is the reason Dumas picked it for the book.
Edmond Dantes, the story’s protagonist, finds a legendary treasure that he uses to plot his own formidable revenge. In 1842, Dumas arrived on the island with a friend on board of their tiny boat. He immediately fell in love with this “fantastic and lonely, smelling of thyme and broom” island.