Giovannino Guareschi, author of the immensely popular Don Camillo stories and editor of the weekly newspaper Candido, spent 14 months in a Parma prison from 1954 to 1955 for having libelled the former Prime Minister Alcide De Gasperi. To this day, he is the only Italian journalist since the founding of the Republic ever to have served actual, behind-bars jail time for libel. This study examines several aspects of Guareschi's life in prison – the ways he coped with boredom and loneliness, the attempts he made to understand his fellow inmates and how he defiantly tried to buoy his spirits. In particular, it focuses on both his correspondence with his wife Ennia, a collection of 44 letters, and his personal musings kept in two prison diaries – all documents that have never been published. The analysis rectifies common misinterpretations as to why Guareschi purposely refused to appeal his guilty verdict and chose to go to jail, considers how Guareschi presented himself in his writings and contemplates Guareschi's place in the history of Italian prison writing.