The Pontine archipelago lies almost in the centre of the Tyrrhenian Sea, in front of the Lazio coastline, and is governed by the Province of Latina. There are two groups of islands: Ponza, Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi to the north-west, Ventotene and Santo Stefano to the south-east. Twenty-two nautical miles separate the two. The geographical co-ordinates of the archipelago are 40° 47’ 10’’ latitude north; 0° 23’ 40” longitude east of the meridian of Monte Mario (Rome).
The Pontine Islands are mainly of volcanic origin. The different chemical characteristics of the rocks give them an unmistakable appearance.
Ventotene: the island has a surface area of just 124 hectares and a permanent population of fewer than 500 inhabitants. The Roman era left the most significant traces here. The Romans built a large residential complex, Villa Giulia. They dug the harbour out of the rock; they created the fish pool beneath the lighthouse and they provided the island with large water reservoirs. The urban appearance can be seen in the simply-designed buildings and taste for compositions of great scenographic effect. The zigzag ramp leading from the roman port to the heart of the town symbolises the link between the island’s history ancient and modern.
Santo Stefano: just over 1 nautical mile from Ventotene is the isle of Santo Stefano. Circular in shape, with a surface area of 28 hectares, its silhouette is dominated by the massive penitentiary built in 1795. It was used until 1965, when it was abandoned as a prison for life prisoners. The totally uninhabited island is popular for excursions and for its wild vegetation.
Ponza: this is one of the most interesting Mediterranean islands. The general setting and surroundings of Ponza offer a sight that makes landing here delightful and fascinating. The delicate semicircle of pink and white houses around the port, the small cemetery and the island’s silhouette provide visions of touching beauty. Ponza is a narrow and elaborate strip of rock that millennia of stormy seas have corroded and eaten away. The island’s perimeter offers some charming spots: the islet of Gavi, Cala Gaetano, Punta Nera, Cala di Frontone…The sea depths are very various and charming.
Zannone: this lies approximately 6 miles from Ponza and is an oasis for migratory game. It is one of the few areas to maintain the characteristics of the typical flora and fauna of the Mediterranean almost intact. Zannone is part of the Circeo National Park.
Palmarola: ituated approximately 8 miles from the port of Ponza, it is uninhabited but in summer a few back up and refreshment points are opened.
Ischia, Capri, Procida and Vivara are the Partenopean islands in the bay of Naples.
To the north of the Gulf are situated Ischia, Procida and Vivara, looking toward the “Flegrea” coast, while in the south of the Gulf, opposite to the Sorrento peninsula, lays Capri.
Full of charm is also the Amalfi Coast, with its mixture of history and nature, all to discover. Here you can find distinctive ceramics, limoncello and the prized mozzarella di bufala.
Procida: of the islands embellishing the gulf of Naples, Procida, an isle about four square kilometres large, is the one which has best succeeded in preserving its original, genuine beauty, unpolluted nature and simplicity of life, together with its century-old traditions.
Ischia: is the largest island with its 47 square kilometres, the biggest island in the Gulf of Naples, Ischia is one of the most famous seaside and tourist centres of Italy in the world. Today, the island of Ischia is a well-known tourist centre for different reason: for its unequalled natural beauty, for its all-year-round mild climate, for its thermal water and so on.
Capri: Just off the coast of Naples and Salerno, between Cape Miseno and Amalfi, a great rock soars like a dream lost in the cobalt blue sea that surrounds it. This Mediterranean jewel yearned for and exalted in some of the world’s most famous lyric poetry, is the island of Capri. The intoxicating fragrance of flowers, delicate splashes of colour, recollections of a millennial past and a peaceful charm, shattered only by the shrill cry of seagulls, are just some of the magical qualities of this mythical island.
Amalfi: Breathtaking views, history, traditions, and modern comforts, are all represented in Amalfian life today, giving its visitors the chance to spend a relaxing, and exciting holiday at the same time. Amalfi origin dates back to the first century A.C. when the Roman aristocracy built luxurious villas in this area.
Today, Amalfi still maintains its fishing traditions, and has a number of fully functional, traditional, fishing boats. Amalfitans are also very proud of one of their most famous mariners, Flavio Gioia, the inventor of the compass. With its views, culture, food, and much more, Amalfi is surely able to surprise you!
Positano: The town of Positano is located in one of the most beautiful valleys of the Amalfi Coast, and the valley opens up to an equally magnificent stretch of coastline. At the centre of town you can see the brightly coloured “majolica” Dome of Santa Maria Assunta, the main church of Positano. Positano has a very glamorous side to it, because of the famous “Positano fashion style”, this is just one of the many reasons that tourists from all over the world flock to the pathways, and boutiques of Positano each summer.
Sorrento: Sorrento is located on a tuff coast and is reflected in the Gulf of Naples, fascinating tourists and visitors, attracted by breathtaking views and landscapes. The town gives its name to the Sorrento Peninsula, a great area extended from Vico Equense to Massa Lubrense. This area, thanks to its geographical shape, suspended between the green hills and the blue of the seas, is from the time immemorial a great attraction of the southern Italy.
Take their name from the mythical figure Aeolus.
According to Homer, this local god-king kept the winds bottled up in a cave. When Odysseus came by on his long trip home, he was given a favourable wind, but he accidentally released it from its bag and so was blown off course. All the world’s winds do seem to converge here at times, though in summer it’s as likely to be still and hot as wild and tempestuous.
The difficulties of life in these islands led most of the inhabitants to emigrate to the US a century ago, so you will find them sparsely populated today. Come to the Aeolians to see the extensive Greek ruins on Lipari, but mostly to swim and dive in the crystalline seas and to sunbathe on the myriad beaches and rocky shores.
Lipari: is the main island, and generally offers the widest selection of lodgings, restaurants, shops, and things to do. The people are warm and friendly, and their town’s romantic citadel offers an uninterrupted record of its inhabitants from Neolithic times, featuring an extensive acropolis. Because the Aeolians are volcanoes, all extinct save one, each island has beaches of a unique character. Lipari is the oldest island, and thus its lidos are covered with the finest white sand, actually the end product of black lava.
Vulcano: the “younger” extinct volcano inhabited by 400 islanders, is studded with fantastic formations, both above ground and under water.
Stromboli: the tragic island made famous in Roberto Rossellini’s film of the same name (starring Ingrid Bergman), features two miniscule towns on opposite sides of a mildly active volcano. This island is the “baby,” and so it has the blackest beaches.
Salina: is the garden island. Its slopes are blanketed with deep green vineyards that produce a heady malvasìa; its waters are populated with fish and octopus. Take home some of the local capers packed in salt: until you’ve tried them this way, you’ll never really know what a true caper tastes like.