|In nineteenth-century Italy notions of femininity and, no less, masculinity influenced the ways in which crime was viewed. The result was that criminality was perceived, judged and explained differently according to the sex of the offender. At every stage in the penal process, cultural understandings of what women were like, and how they ought to behave, operated to define the appropriate response to their misconduct and to structure their punishment. These 'gendered' aspects of criminal justice have influenced the practices of prosecution and sentencing, and, most clearly of all, the special regimes and attitudes adopted in women's prisons: throughout the century male prison regimes emphasized disicpline and deterrence, while female prisons developed individualized programmes of 'moral regeneration'. This article deals with the history of the first prison destined exclusively for women--which was opened in Turin in 1821--with the circumstances which brought about its creation as well as with its organizational structure and its aims. Its promoter--both in money and in spirit--was a woman, named Giulia Falletti di Barolo Colbert. Giving special consideration to the ideals of its foundress, this article examines how nineteenth-century perceptions of the female criminal differentiated the nature and purpose of penal servitude for women.