“When from the sea the shape of an island appears, there it becomes a site of the soul.” Ponza is one of six islands that make up the archipelago called the Pontine Islands. Set in the Tyrrhenian sea just off the west coast of Italy between Rome and Naples, Ponza is the largest and most developed.
Early morning mist swirls around the hilltops of Ponza as fishermen work on their boats in the harbor. A salty ocean breeze sweeps lightly down the street. Shops open and grocers wheel their produce carts outside heaped with colorful ripened fruit. People begin to seat themselves at outdoor tables for a leisurely cappuccino. A new day begins…
This Is Your Time, a tour company based in Rome, has invited me to join a small group of bloggers to explore some of Italy’s most exotic locales. We are here on Ponza with a full itinerary of island activities. We arrived from Formia on the mainland the night before, so this is our first good look at the island. Some of us found lodging at the Piccolo Hotel Luisa, just a short stroll up from the village on the port. Our welcome was warm and accommodating. A full breakfast is served on the veranda with a view each morning.
My blogger friends and I take the short cobbled road into the village from our hotel. Tall pastel buildings and quaint shop window displays show off their island charm. We stroll around the harbor until early afternoon when we stop for a sip of Campari spritz at a table close to the water’s edge.
Rainbow colored fruit displays fill carts outside a shop. Jars of olive oil, limoncello and Balsamic vinegar line the shelves. Clothing boutiques, homemade island crafts, and tiny last-minute shops line the street while motorcycles, small trucks and cars ease by. Ponza is in full swing.
Abundant plates of perfectly prepared mixed seafood, freshly caught from the surrounding clear waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, are served up with gusto at Trattoria Monte Guardia. This restaurant is perched on the highest hill of the island that provides stunning views from the terrace.
That evening we experience adventure on the high seas aboard the S&S Swan sailboat. A small skiff picked us up from shore in groups of three and delivered us to the sailboat anchored out in the harbor.
Jayne, the captain, welcomes us aboard with glasses of prosecco and a tasty aperitif laid out under the stars. We lounge and converse to the sway of the boat until midnight.
The next day we explore the caves and grottos of the island by boat. Skippered by Antonio, one of the island experts, we learned all about the shoreline. We thought of Homer and his mythical Odyssey. In his writings, he mentions the island of Aeaea which is believed to be Ponza. This is where Circe, the sorceress, lived in a deep and cavernous grotto. Our little boat slips inside one of them. Craggy walls and dark corners inspire imaginations and we easily see her conjuring up the future for some strategy driven warlord.
Antonio points out modern ocean floor artwork that can be seen down through the clear turquoise waters. These colorful portraits are a special highlight for snorkelers.
Ponza is more than another island. Ponza is allure. The kind that the Etruscans, the Romans, and the Bourbons found impossible to resist. Entwined with centuries of myth and legend, this island paradise makes these legends easy to believe.
– Susan Nelson
Susan Nelson’s love for Italy began 12 years ago when she took a two week whirlwind tour of this lovely country. Since then she has been back several times only to fall more deeply in love with the culture, history, people and beauty of this country. She has written over 100 posts on her blog, Timeless Italy, and has done guest posts for Boomer Women Travelers among a few other online travel publications. You can most always find her in her home office researching and writing new articles that intrigue her about Italy. Follow Susan on Twitter.