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Thursday, October 1, 2009
The largest of thePontine Islandsbetween Rome and Naples ,Ponzais a volcanic remnant lying 33 km south ofCape Circeo, in theTyrrhenian Sea. It’s a mixture of vividly coloured cliffs and crags 12 km long and never more than 2 km wide. Such rocks, kaolin and tufa has eroded into fantastic shapes, inspiring names like ‘the monk’ and ‘the giant pair of pants’. You look down on stepped terraces of vines, cactus pears and fig trees, ancient and modern.
Ponzawas once a Roman penal colony for unwanted Christians. Its isolation also served for theRoman Emperor Nero’s exile and again forMussoliniin 1943. Today the clusters of domed pastel cubes that are the hallmark of Ponsese architecture are exclusive in a different way.
The island is protected from development, and existing residents have curtailed neon bars and discos. You don’t have to be rich to enjoy its remoteness beauty and terrific diving, but Ponza’s style certainly favours the wealthy Italians who holiday there.
When to go:April to October. Come for the festival of San Silverio, Ponza’s patron saint, around 20 June.Population:3,315.How to get there:By hydrofoil from Anzio or Naples, by ferry from Formia, Anzio and Terracina, to Ponza.