Located off the coast of Italy between Rome and Naples is a charming and beautiful archipelago called Isole Pontine (the Pontine Islands/Isles). Despite featuring stunning seaside views, relaxing beaches, and incredible snorkeling and scuba diving, the Pontine Islands remain a relatively undiscovered part of Italy – primarily because they can only be accessed by boat. Travelers hoping to visit the islands must first fly to either Rome or Naples and then take a ferry to the Pontine Isles.

Once there, travelers will discover extraordinary views, delicious fresh seafood, unique vineyards, expansive flora and fauna, a rich history, and exciting oceanside activities – all wrapped up in an authentically Italian atmosphere. To experience Italy off the beaten path, there is no better destination than the hidden gem of the Pontine Isles.

The history of the Pontine Islands goes back thousands of years with evidence of inhabitants as far back as Neolithic times and the Bronze Age. Recorded history of the area began during Roman times. Settlements on the islands were encouraged during Caesar Augustus’ reign. The Romans utilized the islands as a place to retreat during wartime as well as a place of exile for problematic citizens. The islands were abandoned during the Middle Ages and re-colonized during the eighteenth century by the Kingdom of Naples, eventually becoming a part of the Unified Kingdom of Italy.

Today, six islands comprise the archipelago, and while only two of the islands are inhabited, each features its own unique qualities.


The namesake of the Pontine islands, Ponza is the largest island of the archipelago. One of the two populated islands, it is the most traveled and most popular of the group. In fact, it has become a celebrity hot spot for vacationing in the Mediterranean. Covering only slightly more than 3 square miles, its small footprint manages to include rocky coasts, sandy beaches, gorgeous water, and rolling hills. It is also home to charming streets lined with quaint hotels, local artisan shops, restaurants, cafés, and Mediterranean-style homes known for their unique bright colors.


The other populated island of the Isole Pontine, Ventotene, is a certified land and sea conservation area that is overseen by the Italian State. Home to only 300 residents, it is the ideal place for a completely laid-back vacation that feels secluded from the tourist traps of the mainland. In comparison to Ponza’s boutiques and top restaurants, Ventotene’s main sights are its natural wonders, traditional villages, and quaint lighthouses. The island has a rich history that goes all the way back to when it served as a retreat for Roman Imperial families.


A much smaller island, Palmarola is very craggy and essentially uninhabited. It is considered to be one of the most gorgeous islands in the world with its pink coral beaches, pebble shores, and beautiful natural landscape views. The buildings in Palmarola are dug into the rock – a must see for fans of unique architecture. There is a boat landing and a small restaurant right on the beach, which can be enjoyed during the summer months.

Santo Stefano

Like Ventotene, Santo Stefano is a land and sea conservation area. Featuring unique black rock, it is the smallest island in the Pontines. The past of this area, like the island’s rocks, is dark. Santo Stefano was the location of torture for thousands of prisoners held within a jail on the island, the remains of which can still be seen. Travelers can hike to the top of the prison and take in striking views of Mount Vesuvius.


Far south from Ponza, Zannone’s appeal is its wild mystery. Uninhabited without even a restaurant or café, Zannone is a part of the National Park of Circeo. Travelers take day trips to this island from other islands in the archipelago to gaze upon the darker, more wild, natural fauna.


The only known inhabitants of this miniscule island are wild rabbits. Without beaches and containing only jagged rocks and coastline, Gavi is a truly wild and untouched island with one grotto known as the Grottone di Gavi.


The Pontine Islands are an archipelago located in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the southwest coast of Italy –one of the Mediterranean’s most stunning coastlines. Formed by volcanic activity, the six islands that comprise the archipelago span around 22 nautical miles and feature a geography that includes soft sand beaches, jagged, rocky cliffs, dramatic shorelines, underwater caves, and one-of-a-kind grottoes. In fact, the geography of the Pontine Islands is so rocky and jagged, much of the archipelago is uninhabitable, with Ponza and Ventotene being the only two populated islands.

Though their location in the middle of the sea leads to logistical problems for building settlements, the islands’ unique geography results in gorgeous seaside views and wonderful beach and ocean activities to enjoy.

The Pontine Islands have been renowned for not only their beauty, but also their mild climate, which is perfect for visitors hoping to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the islands’ stunning natural setting.


Enjoy the outdoors! The Pontine Islands are perfect for travelers who wish to relax on beaches, swim in the ocean, enjoy water sports, go sailing, and explore the beauty of the surrounding waters by snorkeling or scuba diving. The oceanic world that surrounds the Pontine Islands contains amazing caves, spectacular grottoes, gorgeous coral reef beds, and historic underwater treasures like sunken ships.

In addition to the natural beauty that makes the Pontine Islands so wonderful, the isles are known for a relaxed culture that encourages leisure. After a day of taking in the sea, enjoy a stroll down charming promenades, take a walk and admire the colorful homes, stop for an aperitivo at local bars, or settle in for a delicious meal of freshly caught seafood at one of the local restaurants.

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