If you are in Latium, take time to visit Ponza island.
There’s something special about islands that has always intrigued me. Islands are poetic and spiritual, each with a different story to tell, always thriving with fantastic stories of monsters and mermaids, cyclops and witches. On the island of Ponza these stories are narrated more than anywhere else.
When the organization of Thisisyourtime contacted me for a blogtour across Tuscany, Umbria and Ponza, the first thing my mind was drawn to was the latter: Ponza. I got an inspiration. I realized my sixth sense was right as soon as we started entering into the port of Ponza, on a sunny June afternoon.
Ponza is an island very rich in stories and legends. Born from the sea by volcanic eruptions, at the mercy of the winds, attracted the triton Astreo who, right in Ponza, conceived the winds. Homer says it became the dwelling of the witch Circe, who right in Ponza tried to bewitch Ulysses and his troops turning the women of the island into mermaids.
Ponza, together with other 6 islands, make up the Pontine Archipelago, located in the Gulf of Gaeta, in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Ponza is the largest and is dominated by mountains, has a coastline dotted with rocky coves and beaches. Its many underwater caves and cliffs, together with its amazingly clear waters, attract thousands of divers every year.
Maurizio Musella, our courier on the island and tourism delegate, born and raised in Ponza and truly in love with it, took us on an exciting boat trip, on board a gozzo, the typical Pontine boat, to discover the island’s incredible beauties and amazing stories. We started from the Pilato Caves, not far from the port, a complex of caves carved by the Romans and probably used for breeding eels. We walked through the tunnels dug into the tuff to find ourselves in coves where the sea has an extraordinary emerald color.
Once dubbed Punta della Madonna, behind which appears the lighthouse, we came across another very scenic spot: Faraglioni della Madonna. Among small coves and rocky cliffs we reached scogli delle Formiche, Faraglioni di Calzone Muto and the beach of Bagno Vecchio, a seaport during the Roman Age. After passing Punta della Guardia, the landscape changes.
On the western shore of the island you find some of the most beautiful beaches like Chiaia di Luna, the caves of Capo Bianco, and the Faraglioni di Lucia Rossa. Between Cala Feola and Punta Pope, a district of fishermen, the coast is indented and is ideal for a stop. After Cala dell’Acqua you reach Cala Cavone and Cala Fonte with its small port, up to the northern tip of the island, where only 120 meters separates to the small island of Gavi.
After rounding Punta dell’Incenso the east coast reappears. Here the sea is more protected and many boats find shelter. Here you can visit the small caves of Punta Incenso, the passage under the rock Spaccacolpi, the Arc of Cala Schiavone. Approaching Punta Bianca are still visible remains of the ancient Roman aqueduct.
From Cala del Core and Frontone Beach – among the most beautiful on the island – you can go back to the port.
Must-activities on the island
From sailing to diving, hiking and trekking, culture and traditions, Ponza is an endless discovery.
- Diving: besides having a boat trip (that is an absolute must-do), Ponza is the perfect place for diving. The Ponza Diving Center have diving excursions, both for beginners and experienced divers, from April to November around the Pontine islands .
- Trekking: on the island there are plenty of very interesting hiking trails perfect to do also in Spring and Fall, on foot or by bicycle, with different levels of difficulty, for example from the port to Monte Guardia, the highest mount on the island.
- Museum: the Museum of Ethnography (free entry), near Frontone Beach, housed inside a cave, displays furnishings and testimonies of the ancient traditions of Ponza.
Where to eat
Ponza has an excellent cuisine, largely based on fish but not only. Among its specialties you find soups, rabbit meat, and many traditional recipes based on legumes.
- At sunset go to Il tramonto (i.e. the sunset): its location, right above the sea overlooking Palmarola island, is breathless. The fish dishes are fantastic.
- For a light lunch try Oresteria, close to the port, and for dinner Orestorante, a restaurant overlooking the port. The chef Oreste, the owner of the two, is a real master.
- If you want to have dinner by the beach go to Enzo al Frontone, with its cozy and romantic location by the sea.
Where to sleep
On the island there is a wide selection of hotels, bed and breakfast and apartments. Many solutions for every taste and budget.
How to reach Ponza
You reach Ponza by ferry or hydrofoil from the port of Formia (all year) or from Anzio, San Felice Circeo, Terracina and Naples (in summer). From Formia it takes about two and half hours by ferry and about an hour by hydrofoil. The ports are all easily accessible by car and train. A transfer service with helicopter and seaplane from Rome to Ponza is also available.