Published On: Sat, Mar 16th, 2024

The beautiful European island as good as Sicily and Sardinia but with hardly any tourists | Travel News | Travel

Every year, tens of millions of people flock to Italy to bask in the summer sunshine — or winter snow — and enjoy much of what the country has to offer.

Whether that is the arts, local culture, history or more likely the dazzling cuisine, the country has something to offer everyone.

But with everyone wanting a slice of the pie, some places can get busy… very busy.

The likes of Sicily and Sardinia, both a hit with foreigners, including Britons, see surges of millions of people in the high season — a truly claustrophobic number.

There is, however, one tiny settlement part of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago that boasts all of that which entices visitors to the country but without the throngs of crowds: the island of Ponza.

Ponza is the largest of the six Pontine Islands, a string of volcanic formations off the coast of Lazio, some 25 miles south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea which is part of the Mediterranean. 

Compared to other islands, however, it’s tiny: a mere seven kilometres long and barely two kilometres wide, though it boasts a seriously dense history, inhabited from the Neolithic times through to the Roman period.

Locals legend has it that the island was named after the notorious Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea who tried Jesus of Nazareth for sedition against Roman rule.

If those two sentences aren’t enough to have you packing your bags ready for a week-long jaunt, then maybe the next few will.

Ponza greets the visitor with an explosion of colour and hustle and bustle. Bright pinks, blues and yellows are splayed across every building within eyeshot, each overlooking various market stalls selling all sorts of wares.

While the likes of Sicily and Sardinia see millions traipse their streets in summer, just 30,000 people travel to Ponza each year.

It’s been a hit with the rich and the famous through the ages, including Roman generals and wealthy merchants. And, more recently, the likes of Kirk Douglas and his son Michael, Burt Lancaster, Sophia Loren and Princess Caroline of Monaco – not to mention Jacques Cousteau and his son Philippe.

There’s no shortage of hotels and B&Bs, some of which have been carved out from the mountainside to provide that much-needed cool breeze in the summer heat, which can hit more than 30C on the mercury.

On an island surrounded by azure waters, activities involving the sea are inevitable. Be it surfing or paragliding, sunbathing or swimming, you can’t escape the blue stuff here. The vast body of water also means that many of Ponza’s more remote spots, like its several beaches, are accessible only by boat.

Visitors rave about Spiaggia di Frontone and the Chiaia di Luna or Half Moon Beach, the latter reached by a 2,500-year-old Roman gallery tunnel carved through the mountain.

And, of course, food revolves around the sea too. Ponza is a seafood lover’s dream, with no end of speciality restaurants, including the top-rated Acqua Pazza, the island’s only Michelin-star eatery.

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