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Ponza is the largest of the Pontine Islands, an Italian archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the mainland’s west coast, falling within the Lazio region. Found thirty three kilometres south of Cape Circeo, it’s long and slender in shape, spanning thirty two by five kilometres.
The island’s etymology has been disputed for years; local legends say it was named after Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who crucified Jesus, while Greek historians have highlighted that Pontia appears in documents pre-dating his life. Finally, others claim it comes from the Latin for ‘land of bridges’, owing to the high number of natural arches throughout the island. What is not contested, however, is Ponza’s laid back appeal, rich history and stunning landscape.
Buzzing at the weekends and during peak season, Ponza is still relatively unchartered on the tourist map and regarded as one of Italy’s best kept secrets. Studded with emerald coves, the craggy coastline offers many routes for exploration via chartered boat, allowing you to drop anchor and dive into the refreshing pools whenever you like. When the Mediterranean sun finally sets, Ponza’s chefs are serving up freshly caught seafood, especially shellfish, in al fresco restaurants, best enjoyed after an aperitif while gazing over the hills.
Also famous for its man-made blue grottoes, which were created by the Roman Etruscan civilisation who lived between the 8th and 3rd century BC, Ponza’s natural topography has plenty to offer. Its rich and diverse landscape includes a collection of brown rocky stacks known as the Faraglioni della Madonnna, a structure resembling knotted wood, while La Punta di Cap Bianco: a cluster of naturally crafted volcanic stone towers, will also fascinate any passer-by.
Situated halfway between Rome and Naples in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Ponza is easily reachable from many different ports along the west coast of mainland Italy. You can also embark on inter island routes from the Bay of Naples and Pontine archipelago if you fancy an exciting day trip. In terms of flexibility, a wide choice of excellent ferry companies offer fast and frequent routes to Ponza’s main port multiple times a week.