Full of history and charm, there are countless things to do, see and eat on Italy’s mainland - a visitor could spend a lifetime in Rome and not experience everything the city has to offer. For something a little different though, hop aboard a boat and head to Ponza, a hidden gem of an Island off of Rome’s coast, where visitors can find a uniquely luxurious and exciting Italian getaway.
What is Ponza?
Ponza is a small Island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It’s reachable by ferry, so can get extremely crowded with local Romans looking to get away during the summer months. However, outside of tourist season, travellers can visit this stunning island and find a remote paradise which was built by nobles during Imperial times. Even then, the rich and famous used it as an escape and it was packed with villas and stone-hewn swimming pools. Today, Ponza remains a beautiful natural escape, with a couple of villages, scores of volcanic-created saltwater pools and countless boats for rent to tour the island.
Where to Visit
The only real town on the island is simply referred to as Porto. Porto has a main piazza, called Piazza Pisacane, which is packed with shops, restaurants and convenient businesses. Stay in Porto to get a good feel for what local life on Ponza is like. Ponza is also convenient, with good water taxi services available to take you to all of the places you’ll want to visit.
What to Do
For beach lovers, Ponza is a paradise. The beaches are remote and hard to get to, which means that they’re not as crowded as many Italian beach towns. Spiaggia di Frontone is a must-see beach on the island. Take a water taxi from Porto to get there (none of the beaches are accessible from land). The beach has a few bars and clubs that will rent umbrellas and lounge chairs. Whilst Frontone is attractive, Chiaia di Luna is Ponza’s most famous beach. It’s only a 10-minute walk from the marina of Porto, so you can walk there yourself.
If you’re the more adventurous type, rent a boat and explore the island. You can visit Pilate’s Grottoes, which, according to legend, once belonged to Pontius Pilate. These grottoes are hand-carved cave pools, at which you can anchor your boat, swim in and explore on your own.
Where to Eat
The real star of Ponza is Acqua Pazza, a Michelin-starred restaurant that overlooks the main piazza in Porto. The restaurant’s setting is stunning, yes, but what people really rave about is the food, which is elegant and sophisticated and made with exquisitely fresh ingredients. For something that feels local and comforting, Ponza is also home to Da Gerardo, a hidden spot on Frontone, where you can taste authentic, local cuisine with a great view of the sea.
Summer in Ponza
If you’re going to spend summer in Ponza, there is one event that cannot be missed. The Feast of San Silverio takes place each summer in late June. Silverius is the patron saint of Ponza, so the feast is not to be missed. The island hosts a festival of lights near the marina, as well as a procession with the statue of the saint and a huge amount of food to eat.