Pontine Islands Interactive Map
SANTO STEFANO is the smallest island in the archipeligo and is a protected area (the general public are not allowed), however, there are some privately organised trips to the island (including visits to the prison). The prison (now rather tattered) was built by King Ferdinand of Bourbon IV, in 1794-94. The prison was built to a rather cruel design in that none of the cells faced outward towards the sea - they all faced inwards in horseshoe shape on 3 levels: the lowest was for max security inmates (cells were small and unpleasant), the top level was the most "comfortable" with larger cells and the middle level fell somewhere inbetween. In October 1860, 800 men and women, nearly all of Neapolitan origin and affiliated to the Mafia group the Camorra were incarcerated here but they revolted and took control of the island, turning it into an indepenndent governement for about one year. As this happened at the time Italy was being unified, the French were more concerned with hot-footing it back to France than putting up much of a fight, then in 1861 Italian Marines landed on the island and it became part of the newly formed Italy. One of the many prisoners over the years was Gaetano Bresci, who in 1900 killed the King of Italy - Umberto I. During WWII Sandro Pertini, (who went on to become a well-respected President of the Italian Repubblic 1978-85) was imprisoned here as a young man from 1929-30 for opposing the Facist regime. He was moved on account of ill health to Turi (BA) where he stayed for 1 year. In 1932 he was moved to Pianosa prison, in 1935 to Ponza prison, and finally exiled to Ventotene in 1939. He was freed at the end on the war. The prison was active as such until 1965.
VENTOTENE - in Roman times known as Pandataria or Pandateria (Greek Pandoteira) - has a pretty grisly past. Emperors sent wives, daughters, sisters & nieces here as either punishment or simply to get them out of the way. In 33 A.D. Agrippina the Elder died here of malnutrition, around 41 A.D. Agrippina's youngest daughter was secretly starved to death here and in 62 A.D. Emperor Nero has his first wife, Claudia Octavia, executed here. St. Flavia Domitilla was banished here (catacombs just outside Rome are named after her). She was grandaughter of Emperor Vespasian and may have died on the island. During WWII Ventotene was used as a German garrison, defending an important radar station. In 1943 American paratroopers landed on the island, liberating it without any casualties. Remains of Roman villas and other structures are still visible today and in 2009 archaeologists announced the discovery of 5 ancient Roman ships in the deep waters off Ventotene [see video]. Today the island - with its transparent turquoise waters and quaint buildings - is a popular destination for summer holidays.
Formia - Ventotene / Formia - Ponza: Vetor Aliscafi. Formia - Ventotene: Snap (www.snapnavigazione.it). www.vetor.it Benvenuti in Vetor Aliscafi
Terracina - Ponza / Terracina - Ventotene: Snap (www.snapnavigazione.it). www.snapnavigazione.it Snap & Snip Navigazione s. r. l.
San Felice Circeo - Ponza (summer w/e only): Circeo Ponza. www.circeoponza.it Traghetto da San Felice Circeo a Ponza - Pontina Navigazione
Anzio to Ponza / Anzio - Ventotene: Vetor Aliscafi. www.vetor.it Benvenuti in Vetor Aliscafi
ZANNONE - ancient name: Sinonia - is part of the Circeo National Park on account of its beauty and several rare biomes. Special permits are required to visit the isalnd. Monte Pellegrino is the highest point on the 1 square km island and the location of a small station & education centre belonging to the Forestry Service. There are also ruins of a Benedictine convent: Maria e del Santo Spirito, in which, during 9th Century, lived Benedictine monks. During the Middle Ages it passed under control of Cistercian monks (13th Century). However, following frequent attack by Saracen pirates they transferred definitively to "terra ferma" in Gaeta.
PALMAROLA - the 2nd largest island in the archipeligo, largely uninhabited (generally only during the summer). The coastline is very rocky with natural grottos, bays, craggy cliffs and just a few small beaches. Named after the Palma Nana (Chamaerops humilis: Mediterranean Dwarf Palm or European Fan Palm) - the only palm species native to continental Europe, growing easily on poor or rocky soils. The island's ancient name was Palmaria. Today the island is a nature reserve thanks to its uncontaminated environment, and its diverse coastline makes it one of the most attractive islands in the world. Enjoyed best from a boat (or yacht if you're lucky), summer months are very vibrant.
PONZA - largest of 5 islands in the Pontine archipeligo in the Gulf of Gaeta. Map coordinates: 40° 54′ 0″ N, 12° 58′ 0″ E. The main centre of the island is the port of the same name. Main income on the island - not surprisingly - comes from fishing & tourism. The best known cove is Chiaia di Luna and is very picturesque and was once an ancient port used by the Greeks - even today it's possible that one might stumble across a piece of an ancient Greek vase! It is reachable only by boat, or through a Roman tunnel. Unfortunately there are risks in this area of landslides. Other beaches & coves are: Frontone Beach, Cala Feola, Cala Fonte, Lucia Rosa, Felci Beach. Some only accessible by boat, others by bus. There are several hotels & guest houses, which are very pleasant, but normally only open during Summer months. The sea is very clean & safe for swimming/diving etc... www.ponza.it
Nothing from Civitavecchia to the Pontine Islands - contrary to certain information on internet!
GAVI - a very small island (700mtrs long) just off the coast of Ponza, used to be accessible by sea in 2 places but now only the southern point is used, however, even though it falls under the 'Comune di Ponza' it has been privately owned since 1956. There are no beaches and only one cave (grottone di Gavi). Flora includes Agave, Mastic, Juniper and other berries. Fauna includes mice, rabbits, lizards, Yellow-legged Gulls &Peregrine Falcons.
Ponza - Ventotene: there are ferries/boats between these islands but no reliable info at this time (5th Jan 2013).

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