Ponza – A step away from Italy

Just like some other lesser-known regions of Italy, such as Colli Euganei the small island of Ponza, is something of an undiscovered gem for the majority of British travellers. The island is part of the Pontine Islands, nestled in the Tyrrhenian Sea off Italy’s western coast which also include Ventotene and Santo Stefano.

A break from Rome

If you’re planning to stay in Rome or Naples a two or three day excursion to Ponza to eat, swim and relax is a great option to break up the week and experience a different side of Italian culture away from then hustle and bustle of the big city.

Catch the train from Rome (approximately one hour to Formia), take the early morning ferry, and you can be sipping a Cremona in Ponza Harbour by lunchtime.

Like most of Italy, the busiest months on the island are July and August when Italians flock to Ponza to dive into its crystal-clear waters and enjoy its friendly atmosphere and amazing cuisine. However, if you visit in June, September, or even October, the island is less crowded but still warm and welcoming. Ponza has a captivating history and irresistible allure and with its breathtaking natural beauty, Ponza offers an idyllic Mediterranean island experience.

A Brief History

Ponza’s story dates back to ancient times when it was inhabited by the Etruscans, a pre-Roman civilisation. Phoenicians, Greeks, and Romans also left their mark on the island, shaping its culture and development.

During the Roman Empire, Ponza served as a vital maritime base, connecting Rome to its southern territories. It provided a safe haven for ships traversing the Tyrrhenian coast. Despite facing challenges, Ponza remained captivating throughout history. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, it attracted nobility and artists, including Picasso and Capote, who found inspiration in its scenic beauty. It was also a place where political prisoners were sent to exile by Mussolini, who was briefly himself held captive on the island too.

As you wander through narrow streets, discover hidden coves, and savour local delicacies, Ponza’s unique character, shaped by centuries of history, invites you to step back in time while embracing the pleasures of the present.

Getting to Ponza

Ferry: From the mainland the ferry is the most popular and convenient mode of transportation to Ponza. Regular ferry services operate to and from Ponza, departing from various ports along the mainland, such as Anzio, Formia, and Terracina. The journey duration varies depending on the departure point and takes approximately 2 to 3 hours. From Formia, the price is currently €8.10.

Hydrofoil: The hydrofoil is a faster option and operates on specific routes from the mainland to Ponza. It is particularly useful for day trips or travellers with limited time. The journey duration generally takes around 1 hour. Price around €25

Private Boat or Charter: If you have a bigger budget and seek a more personalised experience or are traveling in a larger group, renting a private boat or chartering a yacht may also be an option. This allows you to enjoy the flexibility of creating your own itinerary and exploring the surrounding islands at your leisure. There are more than several boat rental companies available on the mainland, offering a range of vessels to suit different budgets and preferences.

Once on the island, despite its small size (it has a total land area of only around 2.9 square miles) there are various options for getting around. The most common means of transportation is by taxi boats, they provide transportation between different parts of the island, including the main port and various beaches and coves.

Additionally, there are rental services for scooters, bicycles, and electric carts, which can be used for exploring the island at your own pace. Keep in mind that the roads on Ponza can be narrow and winding, so driving or riding vehicles requires caution.

La Specola di San Silverio: A significant historical and cultural attraction on the island. It is an observation tower situated near the summit of Monte Guardia, offering a magnificent panoramic view.

Dating back to the 18th century, the Specola is a stone structure that served as part of a coastal defense system against pirates and potential threats. Its purpose was to observe the surrounding sea and alert the island’s inhabitants to any imminent dangers.

Visitors can climb to the top of the tower, which is accessible via a hiking trail leading to the highest point of Ponza, Monte Guardia. As you ascend, you can appreciate the historical significance of the tower and its strategic location.

From the tower’s summit, visitors are rewarded with breathtaking vistas of the island’s coastline, clear waters, and the picturesque landscape.

Beaches: Beaches on Ponza tend to be small and quiet, especially during low season. However, it’s important to note that on many of Ponza’s beaches, sunbathing or visiting may not be allowed due to natural erosion and the potential danger of rockfalls. Signs will guide you, but it’s essential to take the regulations seriously and exercise caution.

A boat tour of the island of Ponza unveils a mesmerising array of notable rock formations, each adding to the island’s scenic allure. The water is so clear that it is a fantastic place to snorkel or scuba dive. We were taken around by Odyssey Diving Ponzas (info@odisseysub.it) and the friendly and informative crew were always on hand to answer our questions. Their boat had a capacity of around 25, but there are several operators of larger boats that can take you around too, either as a private charter or as part of a group, such as coop_Barcaioli_Ponzesi (see below).

On our second day we charted coop_Barcaioli_Ponzesi for 6 glorious hours. They took us to one of the best beaches and their captain and his assistant created a delicious Pasta con Bottarga (a typical Ponza recipe of pasta with salted, cured fish roe pouch), for our lunch along with local alcoholic and non alcoholic refreshments (mostly alcoholic).

Ponza’s unique looking natural rock formations are the result of its volcanic history and tectonic activity, mixed with erosion by wind and water, and coastal processes. These factors have shaped the island’s unique geological features in spectacular fashion and these notable rock formations showcase the island’s geological marvels, each bearing witness to the island’s enduring relationship with the forces of nature.

Here are a few remarkable formations you might encounter during your exploration:

Faraglioni di Ponza:
Rising majestically from the turquoise waters surrounding the island, the Faraglioni di Ponza are striking rock formations that have become an iconic symbol of Ponza. These towering sea stacks, sculpted by centuries of relentless waves, showcase nature’s artistic prowess and create a dramatic backdrop for stunning coastal vistas.

Arco Naturale: Located along the southern coast of Ponza, the Arco Naturale is a captivating rock arch carved by the relentless forces of wind and water. This natural archway frames the crystal-clear sea beyond, offering a picture-perfect scene that leaves visitors in awe of its delicate beauty and geological significance.

Chiaia di Luna: The Chiaia di Luna is a mesmerising crescent-shaped beach nestled beneath towering cliffs. The cliffs themselves, with their unique striations and hues, create an awe-inspiring backdrop. This stunning geological formation, shaped by the ceaseless erosive power of the sea, is a must-visit destination on the island.

Cala Feola Rock Pools: Along the western coast of Ponza lies Cala Feola, known for its enchanting rock pools. These natural basins, formed within the rocky shoreline, provide an idyllic spot for sunbathing and taking refreshing dips in the crystal-clear waters. The rock pools serve as a natural playground, inviting visitors to embrace the tranquility of Ponza’s coastal beauty.

La Piscina Naturale: Known as “The Natural Pool,” La Piscina Naturale is a stunning swimming spot nestled amidst rocky cliffs. This natural inlet boasts calm, turquoise waters, making it an ideal location for swimming and snorkelling. Surrounded by picturesque rock formations, it offers a secluded oasis where visitors can unwind and bask in the island’s natural wonders.

Exploring the Culinary Delights of Ponza: A Taste of Authentic Island Flavours

When it comes to experiencing the true essence of Ponza, indulging in the local delicacies is an absolute must. The island boasts a rich gastronomic heritage, blending fresh Mediterranean ingredients with traditional recipes passed down through generations. As you venture into the local restaurants, prepare your taste buds for a delightful journey through the flavours of Ponza.

Where to Eat

As you would expect from a small island, fish is at the heart of Ponza’s cuisine. Here are some of my recommendations of places to eat and things to try.

Ristorante La Marina: While also accessible by other means, for a really special experience approach Ristorante La Marina by boat after a hard morning doing nothing on the waters. Located about halfway around the other side of the island from the main harbour, this gorgeous rustic restaurant on the beach is popular with celebrities such as Beyonce and Leonardo DiCaprio who according to the owner often pay a visit here.

The food is hearty, rustic and stunning. Their fennel-based pesto (Pesto di Finocchietto) is simple but beautiful. The spaghetti with crab (Spaghetti con Granchio) full of flavours and aromas of the sea, thanks to the freshest ingredients. Enjoy it with a glass of Finocchietto, and you won’t want to be anywhere else in the world. instagram.com/lamarinaponza

Ristorante Osteria:
Visit here for delicious local fresh fish and pasta dishes, such as Spaghetti alla Ponza, and a great selection of local Ponza wine. The non pretentious hearty restaurant is also popular with celebs when they visit Ponza and it’s recommended to book ahead. The food is fantastic, and the restaurants location on the harbour walls overlooking the bay offers a delightful dining experience.

Additionally, they serve Albiolá, a fantastic rosé wine from nearby Lazio, along with an excellent white, and a dessert wine that is not too sweet from the excellent Casale del Giglio.


Ristorante Acqua Pazza:
For a fine dining option, Ristorante Acqua Pazza is the place to visit in Ponza. Here, the local fresh fish is served with exquisite mastery. The tasting menu offers a culinary experience that defies description, thanks to its magnificence. Highlights include Carpaccio di ricciola, rapa rossa e yoghurt, Seppia gusto brace, carciofi, misicnze e menta, Spaghetti alla grancevola, and trancio di pesce spada, alla soia, con carote. By the way it has held a the Michelin star since 2006.


Piccolo Hotel Luisa: As well as being a fine Hotel, another excellent place to eat is at the Piccolo Hotel Luisa. They serve a personal favourite ‘Cacio e Pepe’, (a dish that is an Italian institution) but here, maybe controversially you’ll find an unusual but fantastic twist with a sauce made from fresh prawns.

The restaurant also offers a touch of theatre with the fish steak served under a smoke-filled glass bowl which is revealed by the waiter. Another reinvented classic is the Tiramisu. Give it a try and see for yourself.


Pizza? Just as an added bonus, I asked a local about the best pizza restaurant on Ponza, and they genuinely seemed to think they were all good. Maybe it was International diplomacy at its best, but it seemed a genuine reply.

Here are a few perfect Ponza culinary delights I personally recommended.

Burrata di Ponza: Fresh and creamy, Burrata di Ponza is a local twist on the classic Italian cheese. This luscious delicacy is made from cow’s milk and has a soft, mozzarella-like exterior that encases a center filled with creamy stracciatella. Served alongside ripe local tomatoes and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, Burrata di Ponza is a heavenly appetiser that embodies the island’s dedication to quality, locally sourced ingredients.

Spaghetti alla Granseola: Granseola refers to the Mediterranean spider crab, which is the type of crab typically used in this dish. The crab meat is cooked with garlic, olive oil, chili flakes, and sometimes white wine or tomatoes to create a delicious sauce. The cooked crab meat is then tossed with spaghetti to create the final dish. Spaghetti con Granchio showcases the fresh seafood available in the region and is a favorite among locals and visitors to Ponza.

Finocchietto: One of the cherished culinary delights from Ponza is Finocchietto, a unique and aromatic liqueur that captures the essence of the island’s wild fennel. Made by infusing the delicate yellow flowers and fragrant leaves of the wild fennel plant in alcohol, Finocchietto offers a taste that is both herbal and sweet. This traditional digestif holds a special place in the hearts of Ponza locals, who often enjoy it after a meal to cleanse the palate and aid digestion.

Where to Stay

Hotel Bellavista:
As you may expect from the name, the family-run Hotel Bellavista, opened by the current owners’ Grandmother, offers wonderful views over the ocean, and the waterfront is only 200 meters away. It features 24 bedrooms and a restaurant also with sea views, offering a menu of classic home-cooked Mediterranean cuisine.


Hotel Chiaia di Luna
We stayed at the Hotel Chiaia di Luna (Crescent Moon Hotel), which naturally offers great views overlooking the green bay of Chiaia di Luna, the hotel also boasts 2000 square meters of terraces and a Panoramic swimming pool. Only a short 5 minute walk down the hill to the main harbour it is a wonderful place to watch the sunset, breathtaking!


Nightlife: In the peak season people tend to eat late in Ponza and to accomodate some restaurants will do two sittings, eg one at 8:30pm and one at 11:30pm. Some even do three and the last sitting is sometimes after midnight. If you want to go somewhere special it’s always worth booking ahead.

If you still have the energy after dinner there are many cool places along the harbour serving spritz and apperitivo that play music and stay open as late as 4am, but after a long day exploring Ponza I was ready for bed long before then.

Ponza Delights: If you’d like to add an extra dimension to a traditional trip to Rome or Naples, spending time in Ponza is a brilliant way to do it. You won’t find many English tourists here, and a warm and friendly welcome is guaranteed. With sun, great food, wine, and stunning natural beauty, Ponza’s intoxicating charm is certain to captivate you.

Flush the Fashion

Editor of Flush the Fashion and Flush Magazine. I love music, art, film, travel, food, tech and cars. Basically, everything this site is about.