You hear about Capri, you know of the islands of Ischia and Elba but hardly anyone other than Italians goes to this paradise. I have yet to meet a foreigner who truly understands the magic of the island of Ponza. And while I’m obliged to share the truth, I’d prefer that you didn’t go and ruin it. Gelati-coloured houses; fisherman in bright boats; turquoise water and white limestone cliffs; incredible restaurants; buzzing little town; isolated villas looking out over the neighboring Palmarola; shopping in little privately-run boutiques rather than globally accessible designer stores; summer bars and clubs for dancing; tranquil mountainsfor walking and forgetting your real life; secret grottos for snorkelling, boat hire for exploration of uninhabited beaches… is it obvious I’ve just stepped on the ferry back to the mainland and am utterly regretting not staying FOREVER?
Accommodation, in comparison to most Italian islands, is relatively low cost as most options are locals who rent out apartments or rooms rather than glitzy hotels or resorts.
This place has life and personality but you still feel transported to a private rustic heaven. Check out Chiaia di Luna (hotelchiaiadiluna.com) at sunset for super cool music, a view that leaves even the chic crowd agape and great cocktails and aperitivo snacks. We ate two nights in a row at Ristorante da Igino (Tel.0771808366) because of the spectacular position looking out over the bay of Cala Fonte, the incredible and reasonably priced seafood and the resident grandfather sitting in the corner teaching his five-year-old granddaughter how to play an old Neapolitan card game. The port looks like the place to be when you first arrive, however, I would also recommend exploring the north of island where we stayed. It’s by no means deserted, you have a choice of gorgeous cafes and ever-amiable baristas for morning espresso and buttery croissants and there are plenty of little stores supplying you with groceries (and the best white peaches I have ever tasted). If you prefer to stay right in town do make a trip out to the north if only for lunch, dinner or a change of beach.
The swimming spots are varied; from long dramatic stretches of sandy white to rock forms graduating into lagoons that are so breathtakingly idyllic you expect mermaids to surface at any moment. Hire a scooter or a small buggy and you can travel around the island very easily. You may not want the extra expense but the trips even from one grocery store to the next are so panoramic it’s worth the 30 or so euro a day.
How to get there: From Termini take a train to Anzio or Formia and then a ferry to Ponza.