The most glorious blue water you have ever seen…
Roam the island where Romans go to relax.
When in Rome, take a weekend trip as the Romans do. The Island of Ponza is Rome’s nearby paradise. Learn how to get there without breaking the bank. Ponza delivers an experience that you will always remember.
Many people who travel to Rome never realize the abundant beauty that is located nearby. While Rome does have several beaches nearby such as Fregene, Ostia and Macarese, its waters are less than desirable, so I would only suggest you go there for sunbathing, beach-front dining or an aperitivo. So where does one go if one wants to swim in Italy’s glorious blue water? Certainly not Tevere Beach, which is the swimming pool located on the Tiber near the Vatican Museum and Castel Sant’Angelo.
There is a plethora of options for exceptional swimming: You could head south to Capri, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast or head north to Argentario and Isola del Giglio. There is one location, however, that is little known to most foreigners and located just a hop, skip and a jump from Rome: The island of Ponza.
There are various ways of getting to Ponza. First, hop on the train if you prefer to skip the hour-drive to Anzio. Then, jump on the ferry to Ponza from there. Lodging in Ponza will cost less than Capri but it is still not cheap. If you add up all of your expenses such as the ferry to Ponza, ferry to the beaches, hotel room and food, you will realize it will not be an inexpensive trip. On the other hand, there is one option to consider which ends up costing about the same as the hotel room would cost if you were traveling with other couples. You could rent a boat that sleeps three to four couples. Boats can be rented from Circeo or Anzio and can be rented with a kitchen and a skipper. Many people choose this option not only for the cost but also for the freedom it provides.
The most beautiful aspects of being in Ponza can only be seen by boat. The island of Ponza has a variety of beaches, each featuring awe-inspiring sights and crystal clear water, but you cannot get there by foot. The magical blue hues of the sea is mainly due to the pale color of the rocks below. You can swim and explore beach after beach of stunning scenery. But wait, there’s more!
Palmarola, a nearby desert island, is even more glorious than Ponza. There are numerous grottoes to explore so you will want to pack your snorkeling gear. The water at Palmarola flaunts its magnificent hues of turquoise, teal and electric blue as it envelopes you in all its glory.
End your day of discovery by heading to ‘Il Frontone’, an Ibizesque beachside club fit with thumping music, frozen drinks and frenzied groups of singles enjoying themselves. At around 6pm, the ferries unload their livestock of partygoers, clad in bikinis and flimsy cover-ups, onto the beach lined with tenders, which are the mini-motorboats that most yachts use to get to shore . At 9pm, the party is over and the tenders retreat to their yachts as the ferry restocks its previous load. Please be careful while navigating your yacht or tender. There are many people going back and forth to the beach club. Always keep an eye out for swimmers.
Ponza after dark is a fun-filled night for the younger crowd. It also features lovely restaurants and cafés for visitors of any age. The main strip is full of passersby who enjoy shopping in the characteristic boutiques, which are open until midnight; ice-cream shops, creperies and restaurants serving local delicacies; clubs, lounges and bars with DJs or live music.
Ponza is also a great location for any special event, whether it be a wedding, a conference or birthday celebration. The architecture of Ponza may fool you into thinking you are in Greece. As many picturesque hotels and rentals are on the hill, which require walking up and down steep steps, make sure you find something that fits your needs if you decide to seek lodging.
Ponza makes a great weekend trip if you are staying in Rome. It offers an entirely different experience and shows you another facet of Italy. Capri and Sardinia are better-known islands but the island of Ponza gives them a run for the money.
I first went to Ponza via the ferry but ran into friends with motorboats who treated us to a day at Palmarola and a ride back to Rome. My second trip, however, was superb. We sailed with some friends from the Amalfi coast, where my boyfriend’s beach house is. One had his own boat, so we all split the expenses. We were three couples, therefore, we rented a house on the hill equipped with a kitchen in order to save ourselves from the overpriced restaurants.
Every day we explored a different coast of either Palmarola or Ponza. While swimming in the teal waters of Ponza, my boyfriend would bring some underwater specimens as if he were presenting jewels to his queen.
Off the shore of Ponza, he spotted an injured murena, which is a Moral Eel but looks more like a sea snake. A diver had already shot it and the murena was at the bottom of the sea, paralyzed from the neck down. It could still move his head around and bite with its razor-like teeth, so capturing it wasn’t an easy feat. “The diver had probably been scared half to death after shooting it. That’s probably why he left it there.”, my boyfriend hypothesized.
He and his friend headed off to the off-limits beach where they found a rock, which had fallen from the jagged cliff, and a drift-wood branch. The beach is off-limits due to the threat of falling rocks and boulders but the desire to catch such a prized specimen was too high.
Armed with their improvised prehistoric-like tools, they headed back to the wounded murena. It appeared to be too hurt to move, so he poked it. Suddenly, the murena’s head snapped around at lightning speed, biting at whatever it could get a grasp of. Luckily, this scene was not new to him. He knew that these sea-snakes tended to play dead when injured, in order to have a fighting chance.
My boyfriend had been going scuba diving with his father since the age of three. Back then, he had been quite a sight. People would stare in confusion as they watched an air-tank enter the water on its own. Unbeknownst to them, there was a three-year-old hidden behind the air-tank.
With all of his years of experience at sea, my boyfriend knew murenas were sly creatures. Had he used his hand to poke it instead of the branch, he surely would have lost a finger or two.
Like cavemen after their dinner, they maneuvered it around the branch and carried it to the boat where I was waiting for them with a plastic bag in hand. We put it in the cooler along with some sea water and kept it alive until we got back to the house.
Murenas are an Italian delicacy. They are very hard to come by, due to the danger involved in their capture. Its firm white meat is very tasty. Some high-end restaurants serve it but the price can range from €80-€100.
It can be cooked in a red tomato sauce and served with pasta, barbecued or dipped in flour and lightly fried. It is the tastiest, as all things are, when fried, so that’s exactly how we had it for dinner.