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Italian Islands



The Pontine Islands: Situated South of Rome and Northwest of Naples in the Gulf of Gaeta, there are six Pontine islands (also known as the Ponziane islands).


The islands are in two groups: Ponza, Gavi, Palmarola and Zannone in the Northeast of the group and Ventotene and Santo Stefano in the Southwest, with the lone sea rock of La Botte in between. This pretty archipelago has volcanic origins and the islands are rich in tufa rocks and riolitic lava. The islands are also reasonably fertile and local wine and lentils are produced.

Despite their long history and the evidence of Roman and pre-Roman ruins, the islands are not a well-known tourist destination, except among the Italians who flock there in July and August. During the reign of Caesar Augustus, Rome used to exile political prisoners to Ponza and Ventotene and Mussolini did the same thing in the 1940s. The islands were raided by pirates and Saracens during the Middle Ages and were abandoned as a consequence but were later repopulated and officially included in the Unification of Italy in 1861.

Ponza is the largest and most famous of the group and together with Ventotene is the only year-round inhabited island with regular links by ferry. The other islands are uninhabited (although you can stay on Palmarola in the summer) and can be visited by boat from the two larger islands. Zannone has been declared a nature reserve.

Despite their long history and the evidence of Roman and pre-Roman ruins, the islands are not a well-known tourist destination, except among the Italians who flock there in July and August. During the reign of Caesar Augustus, Rome used to exile political prisoners to Ponza and Ventotene and Mussolini did the same thing in the 1940s. The islands were raided by pirates and Saracens during the Middle Ages and were abandoned as a consequence but were later repopulated and officially included in the Unification of Italy in 1861.

The islands have a mild climate and beautiful nature and they are renowned for the variety of their coastlines. Swimmers and snorkellers will be in their element, and divers cannot fail to be attracted by the unspoilt beauty of the seabed, whilst walkers will enjoy the wonderful scenery of wild flowers, herbs, vines and prickly pear cactuses. For those who love sailing and boating, the Pontine islands are the ideal choice as there is so much to be explored and admired, especially the grottoes, inlets, sheer cliffs and secluded beaches. Ponza and Ventotene have delightful ports and attractive villages with colourful houses and plenty of places to eat out and enjoy the fresh fish and seafood.

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