Amanda Knox
Amanda Knox, the U.S. student convicted of killing her British flatmate in Italy three years ago, leaves the court after a trial session in Perugia November 24, 2010. Knox and former lover Raffaele Sollecito returned to court on Wednesday to appeal their conviction for the murder of British student Meredith Kercher. Reuters

Amanda Knox is just days away from hearing a verdict in her first appeals trial after her 2009 conviction for the murder of her flat-mate Meredith Kercher.

Knox has spent the past two years at a prison outside the university town of Perugia in a facility where she could potentially spend the rest of her life. During the closing arguments of the trial this week, prosecutors demanded that Knox's sentence be increased from 26 years to life, while her defense attorneys argued that the American girl needs to be set free immediately.

But what is life like for Knox inside an Italian prison?

In his 1914 book Some Impressions of Italian Prisons, Gino Speranza detailed an incarceration system that was at the same time modern and antiquated.

With notable exceptions, Italian prisons are still housed in more or less ancient buildings; not infrequently they were formerly convents, which, however remodeled and modernized, are structurally unsuited to the best forms of penitentiary construction...

[At] the 'Stabilimento of San Gimignano'... punishment consists in reduction to bread-and-water-diet and to specially rigorous confinement... The prison has a fair hospital and school.

Knox is being held in the medieval city of Perugia in Umbria, which is not unlike the medieval town of San Gimignano, although Perugia is notably larger. Since the start of her first trial in 2008, Knox has been held in Capanne prison, which is as far from an ancient convent as they come.

The large, block-like facility was opened in 2005. A journalist visiting Knox at Capanne reported that the other prisoners were good to her and said that on Knox's first night, the guards stayed with the girl all night in her cell to comfort her.

Knox's cell is small, but extremely clean, and had an en suite bathroom with a shower, a door and a sink. At one point, she shared the room with a 53-year-old American woman who had been convicted on drug charges.

Capanne also reportedly has a library and a lounge with a pool table and a ping-pong table. Some of the female inmates -- the prison is co-ed, but men and women are separated -- have children that play on playground in the facility.

It's cold here, Knox stated shortly after her arrest and incarceration at Capanne, as winter settled in two years ago. I try to cover myself but I am always shivering. I miss music above all and I really let go when they let me out in the courtyard, singing loudly and trying to stay in the sun as long as possible before heading back under the artificial light.

The other two people convicted in the case are housed in harsher institutions. Knox's former boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito was moved from Capanne to Terni prison near Rome, which is for violent offenders.

Rudy Guede, the Ivory Coast-born born man who was sentenced to 16 years for his involvement in the murder, is in Viterbo jail, which is also for serious criminals. Guede has been reportedly beaten up and attacked by other prisoners during recreation periods.

There are roughly 66,000 people in prison in Italy, a mere 4.3 percent of them women. Per capita, it means that 110 in 100,000 people in Italy are incarcerated, according to the International Centre for Prison Studies.

Additionally, occupancy level for prisons in Italy is at 146 percent, making them the most crowded in Western Europe and the 52nd most in the world.

Knox could know her fate as soon as Monday, and the Italian prison population could be reduced by one. In the four years since Kercher's 2007 murder, the case has proved to be one of the most confounding events in recent memory. There is no predicting the Perugia court's verdict.

But, if there is a full acquittal, Knox would go from court to Capanne penitentiary and after two hours of signing papers, walk out of prison a free woman, writes Seattle PI.