The sun and the crystal clear water draw visitors to this island known for its wonderful seafood dishes and fine wines. It is not an easy island to navigate because most of the coves are only accessible by boat, but it is well worth the effort. It’s no coincidence that clear bottoms teeming with fish attract tens of thousands of divers each year. Ponza, however, is more than just the sea: it is brimming with historical and naturalistic treasures to be uncovered. Ponza, which was colonized by the Greeks and Romans, has a number of Roman constructions ranging from the port to imperial villas, swimming pools to fish ponds, and the Bourbon involvement can be seen across the island. Walking through the less-traveled hamlets allows you to take in panoramic views and beautiful sunsets. Ponza is accessible by hydrofoil and ferry all year from Formia, Anzio, and Terracina.
Ponza is a sea lover’s paradise: the entire coast is lined with coves, bays, and beaches of varying sizes, practically all of which are free and overlook waters ranging from green to turquoise, all of which are surrounded by stunning landscape and protected by white rocks and vegetation. The majority of the beaches can only be reached by boat; of the beaches that can be reached on foot, the most famous is Chiaia di Luna, which gets its name from the brilliance of the cliff that protects it. Cala di Luna is a free beach that is accessible by a 170-meter Roman tunnel that begins on the provincial road. The harbor of Bagno Vecchio, on the other hand, is named for the Bourbon penal colony that was founded here, and it is now a stony and sheltered beach with a Roman necropolis that can be accessed on foot from the Port. Cala Feola is likewise a short walk from the harbor and is worth seeing because it is one of Ponza’s few sandy beaches. The wonderful natural pools, as well as a bar and restaurant, are located to the right of the beach. The Frontone Beach, which is connected to the port by a path and a cab by sea, is recommended for fashionistas. The name comes from the white rock wall that runs along with it, which looks like a temple pediment. The beach is also furnished with sun loungers and umbrellas, and it transforms into an open-air disco soon before dusk. The picturesque Cala del Core is one of the beaches only accessible by sea with the taxi boat service: magma has sculpted a heart on the rock that appears to bleed. It’s a free, stony, and quite peaceful beach. Cala Felce, where the plants meet the sea, is also not to be missed: it is a secluded and distinctive bay, thanks to the sulfurous rocks that turn a major portion of it yellow.
AROUND THE ISLAND
Ponza is a small island with many beaches and bays, the majority of which can only be reached by boat. Booking a boat tour of the island is the greatest way to fall in love with it. The tour of Ponza will take you to hidden ravines, rocks, and caverns with magical names, where you can bathe in pure waters and learn about the island’s thousand legends. There are a number of businesses that give tours of the island; all boats depart from various spots around the harbor, and in addition to the Ponza tour, other itineraries such as those to the islands of Palmarola and Zannone are available. The traditional trip, which only includes Ponza, lasts roughly 5 hours and includes a snack. Bring sunscreen, a swimsuit, and a towel since the boats stop at some of the most picturesque spots along the Ponza coast for a relaxing dip. The classic journey travels clockwise along the coast, stopping at locations like the Grotta di Ponzio Pilato with its Roman fishpond, the Blue Grottoes, the Grotta degli Smeraldi, the Natural Pools, and the Grotta della Maga Circe.
THE CAVES OF PILATE
The Pilate Caves are coastal tunnels carved into the rock that lap the clear waters 10 minutes by boat from the harbor. They are accessible only by boat, and part of the building has been submerged. It consists of a series of tunnels joined by a central pool resembling a Roman moray, which serves as a fish breeding tank. In truth, perspectives differ: the construction at the bottom of the pool, with its steps, marbles, and columns, suggests that they were private bathrooms attached to Octavian Augustus’ villa, which is located on the ridge above and of which only a handful exist now. ruins. Pilate, a young brawler sent here by ancient Rome to get him out of trouble, is said to be the origin of the caverns’ name. His mediation in quelling a rebellion on the island of Ponza then gave him the nickname of Pontius Pilate.
Those arriving by sea for the first time will find the Bourbon port, now known as Ponza, to be an interesting sight. It’s a horseshoe-shaped basin with a semicircular promenade dominated by the red of the old warehouses along the pier and the light yellow of the town hall, which welcomes visitors. The port was part of Ferdinand IV of Bourbon’s Ponzi archipelago development project, and it was given to Major of the Engineers Antonio Winspeare and engineer Francesco Carpi. The entire structure faces west and is part of the old Greek port. It is now regarded as one of the most outstanding specimens of Bourbon architecture.
THE BOTANICAL GARDEN
On the Belvedere Hill, the Ponza Botanical Garden is a treasure overlooking the sea, overshadowed by a Bourbon villa in Neoclassical design. The Garden, which dates back to the 1980s, recreates Ponza’s typical flora, with herbs, flowers, and species that are only found here, such as a big collection of wild orchids. In addition to the garden that surrounds the house, there is a fascinating water garden on the hill’s slopes, and in the independent site, on Monte Guardia, you may view the sedentary and migratory birds who nest here with a little luck.