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Pontine Islands Natural Grotto by the Sea
Pilato's Grotto in Ponza Pontine Isles Italy
Pilato's Grotto in Ponza Pontine Isles Italy
Fisherman Boats in Pontine Islands

Pontine Isles History

Known and visited by the Phoenicians and Greeks, it was the Romans who started to colonize the archipelago. Though there are few physical reminders of its history, Ponza was an ancient settlement, possibly inhabited by the Phoenicians. It later became a Roman colony. In fact, Tiberius exiled Nero on the island.

On the island of Ventotene, the Romans founded their first colony on the Pontine Archipelago around the year 300 BC and built the magnificent harbor at Pertuso Point, which is still one of the great tourist attractions. It became a prison island when it was transformed into a gilded cage for the female prisoners of the Julius-Claudia dynasty. In the early Christian era the islands were the home of banished Christian martyrs, the most famous was Pope Silverius the Martyr who today is the venerated patron of Ponza, and places of meditation for hermits and Benedectine and Cistercian monastic communities.


In the 9th century the islands were given to the Farnese family in fief, before passing to the Bourbons of Napoli, who in 1734 began to encourage their repopulation, starting the construction of the new town centers of Ponza and Ventotene, and the development of the urban settlements. In 1857, Carlo Pisacane landed on Ponza before ending his unfortunate adventure at Sapri. In 1861 the archipelago became part of the unified Italian State.

In 1939, during the Fascist era, the "colony of political confinement" which had been created in 1928 on the nearby island of Ponza, was transferred to Ventotene because it was smaller and easier to guard.

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