Italy // Rome and Lazio //

The Pontine islands

Scattered across the sea between Rome and Naples, the Pontine islands are relatively unknown to foreign travellers. Volcanic in origin, only two are inhabited – the small island of Ventontene and its larger neighbour Ponza. The latter bustles with Italian tourists, especially Romans, between mid-June and the end of August, but at any other time, it’s yours for the asking.

The group’s main island, PONZA, is only 8km long and 2km across at its widest point. Beautiful Ponza Town is heaped around the bay in a series of neat, pastel-coloured pyramids, its flat-roofed houses radiating out from the pink semicircle that curls around the fishing harbour. It makes a marvellous place to rest up for a few days, having so far escaped the clutches of designer boutiques and souvenir shops. Although the island lacks specific sights, Ponza is great for aimless wanderings; in the early evening, locals parade along the yellow-painted Municipio arcade of shops and cafés. For lazing and swimming, there’s a small, clean cove in the town.