Ponza Island

Ponza Island

Ponza is a truly delightful island in the Tyrrhenian Sea shaped like a crescent moon....

 

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Its glistening blue coastline is varied and dramatic with several rocky coves and sandy beaches as well as numerous grottos, caves and craggy cliffs. The island has clear and limpid waters and is ideal for sunbathing, swimming, snorkelling and scuba diving. Life here revolves around the sea so the best way to really appreciate Ponza is to circumnavigate it by boat. Inland the scenery is striking featuring mountains and vine-clad hills that boast sweeping views back down to the coast. There is one main road that snakes a panoramic path from the Port up through to the north of the island and is regularly served by the island’s minibuses. There are two main areas: Ponza Town in the south and Le Forna in the north with a few white houses and North African-style dome-roofed dammusi scattered about elsewhere. 
Arriving in Ponza Town by boat you are immediately greeted by the attractive buildings painted in pastel shades of sky blue, straw yellow, pink and white, and arranged on the slopes around the picturesque amphitheatre-shaped port. This is the main hub of the island and there is a vibrant atmosphere in the variety of restaurants and bars, perhaps the most chic of which line the Piazza Carlo Pisacane. Following the curve north from the port are the small hamlets of Sant’Antonio and Santa Maria which you reach through old Roman tunnels. At Santa Maria there are the remains of a Roman port. You can also walk through the famous Roman Gallery, a tunnel that leads through solid rock to the natural amphitheatre of Chiaia di Luna beach set under tall white cliffs. 
Under the Bourbon colonisation towards the end of the 18th Century a few peasant families settled in the north of the island of Ponza between Lucia Rosa and Punta Incenso, and this settlement became known as Le Forna, named after the kilns that line the bottom of Capo Bosca hill. At its centre is the Maria Assunta church devoted to the Madonna and built in 1770 with two bell towers; the oldest one facing west and the other facing east. There are several bars and restaurants in this area. A narrow lane and steps take you down to the Piscine Naturali, lovely volcanically created pools separated from the sea by a narrow strip of land with a low-lying grotto that lets small boats enter. There are flat smooth rocks perfect for lying about on and sunbathing and rock arches you can swim through in the natural pools. Another sandy beach is the picturesque Cala Feola and there is also Cala Fonte, which takes its name from a natural spring used by the Romans. Beyond Le Forna is La Piana with a smattering of houses and cafes and the road stops at Cala Gaetano where you can admire the great views of the rest of Ponza, as well as the island of Ventotene and, on a clear day, Gaeta on the mainland.