Sometimes the weekend is all you have, but that’s no reason to stay in the city and suffer. TRF suggests easy weekend trips to nearby towns and regions, for mountaineers, culture geeks or beach bums alike.
“It amazes me that most people spend more time planning next summer’s vacation than they do planning the rest of their lives.” - Patricia Fripp
The island of Ponza rises from its mountainous terrain out of the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of the Circeo Cape. An archipelago of islands which include the lesser known Ventotene, Zannone, Palmarola, Gavi and Santo Stefano, its wilderness and sparsely populated towns offer breathtaking views of blue coastlines, pure green mountains, underwater caves and volcanic rock.
The islands’ history begins in the Neolithic from when relics of populated terrains have been unearthed, but didn’t really flourish until the arrival of the Etruscans, the Volsci, and later the Romans in 312 BC. The latter left behind villas, aqueducts, baths and a rainwater collector, all found near Collina della Madonna, on the vertiginous island’s lower half, near the main town Ponza, named after the infamous Roman governor Pontius Pilate who tried Jesus for heresy. The main island also became an important religious location, where patron saint Pope Silverius died in 537 AD, but was conquered by Saracens 300 years later, when monks were turned into slaves and the island was depopulated. In 1734 Elisabetta Farnese, mother of Charles III of Spain, king of Naples, gave him possession of the island to colonize and protect. Workers begin industrializing the town, the church in Ventotene, and the harbor under Charles’ son Ferdinand IV. The islands suffered invasions by the English and the Bourbons, until the last century when it became a prisoner isle for Albanian, Greek and Slavic detainees, and its most famous prisoner, Mussolini in 1943, when the fascist regime used it for political prisoners. Today, it is recognized as part of the Circeo National Park, and is a popular tourist destination during summer months.
Though rich in history, it is also rich in natural beauty , particularly to scuba divers. The Punta della Guardia, at the southernmost tip, is an underwater marvel that sinks to 42 meters, and the Scoglio della Botte is eight miles from the island and has two underwater caves at 36 and 27 meters and the spectacular colony of Plesionika narval shrimp. The beaches, Chiaia di Luna in particular, are the main attraction for thousands of tourists each year.