This map plots the settings and references in Catch-22

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Pianosa, Italy
Pianosa
GNU Free Documentation LicensePianosa - Credit: Matteo Vinattieri

 

Pianosa is the setting for most of Catch-22. Heller places the fictitious 256th Squadron of the U.S. Army Air Forces, to which Captain Yossarian belongs, at a base on Pianosa under the command of the 27th Air Force.

 
Location of Pianosa
GNU Free Documentation LicenseLocation of Pianosa

Located 8 miles south of Elba, Pianosa is a tiny island in the Tuscan Archipelago. At only 3.9 square miles, it is far too small to have contained a major air base and a village as described in Heller’s novel. Its highest point is just 72 feet above sea level.

There are no permanent residents on the island today, but between 1858 and 1998 it held a maximum security prison that housed especially dangerous Mafia criminals.

There is another, even smaller island called Pianosa off the Adriatic (east) coast of Italy, but the island on the west side of Italy is the one Heller had in mind.