A “marvellous” island, this is Ponza, and it is perhaps the most attractive of all the ideas for a boat trip, thanks to its coastline that allows for optimal navigability and the choice of anchoring in roadsteads, which extend almost indefinitely. There is also an enchanting scenery with the beauty of caves, bays and harbours, each one different. Delightful coves and wide beaches characterize the prettiest of the Ponzi islands. A visit to Ponza’s younger sisters, Palamarola, Gavi and Zannone, should not be excluded. Arriving by boat from the south, the Tyrrhenian island rises above the sea, supported by white cliffs up to a maximum altitude of 280 metres, dominating its southern side. What matters now is certainly the marine environment perfumed by luxuriant flora: just think of the beach of Lucia Rossa and that of Cala Felci with its paradisiacal water. The perfect cruise is a weekend, but also a week at least, or even longer for those who love Mediterranean crossings. So here is a small selection of destinations that can be reached by sea from the port of Ponza: Procida (49 nautical miles), Ischia (45.4), Capri (62), Lipari (173), and to the north in Sardinia: Golfo Aranci (152), Olbia (156), Porto Cervo (156). At Marina di Nettuno, about 35 miles away, there are boats for hire as well as at Procida (47 miles) and Naples (60).
Ponza, culture and sea
Ponza is probably the most interesting of all the Tyrrhenian islands from a historical and cultural point of view. It may be because the island’s culture is rich in Roman vestiges, and there is the Bourbon port that finds space in the west, replacing the older Hellenic one on which it is grafted today. And it must be because it is situated some 42 miles from the Latium coast of Anzio, and it has been easy to colonise it since classical times, enriching it with Roman villas, necropolises, mosaics and even a tunnel from the Augustan age, which together make it a delight for visiting sailors. Ponza is very popular with tourists thanks to its picturesque centre, especially in the high season, but if you want to sail around it in peace and quiet, these periods should be avoided. The tufa, which makes up the island’s geology, has naturally created numerous caves into which the sea enters from turquoise to darker blue. Among the best known caves are the grotto of Circe the sorceress and that of the Emeralds near Punta Bianca. Also worth seeing on Ponza are the Pilatus’ grottos, a system of caves dating back to Roman times, which has welcomed the sea into its recesses since classical times. The Romans dug them out as we see them today at the water’s edge. A persistent natural decoration, tufa provides natural platforms, well smoothed and absolutely smooth, on which to lie and sunbathe. Offshore by boat, you can see the whitish hues of the cliffs of the coast, which are beautifully joined by the Tyrrhenian Sea to create breathtaking scenery.
Route to the Bourbon Port
If you head for the Port of Ponza (GPS 40.895618, 12.962339), you will find all the services you could wish for after a cruise: fuel, divers to untie the propeller or free the anchor, slipway, repair service for the electrical system and engines, electricity and water. As well as being an excellent example of Bourbon architecture, the harbour (VHF channel 16-14), with its depths of 2/4 metres, provides safe shelter for over two hundred boats of up to 35 metres in length, and is perhaps the best place to disembark for an onshore excursion to the beautiful town of Ponza. As for the harbour, it stands on a characteristic inlet of the island protected to the north by a breakwater reef. Dominating the panorama is the silhouette of the Church of Saints Silverio and Domitilla. Be careful, however, as it is forbidden to moor at anchor in the area in front of the stretch of water that joins the red light at the “head of the forward reef” with the green light on the Scoglio.
From the port of Ponza to the beautiful Lungomare S. Antonio you start by gazing at the multicoloured boats on the well-ordered floating jetties, and then marvel at the flat-roofed architecture of the houses, whose colours range from ochre to straw yellow to turquoise blue, and include in particular the town hall and the old warehouses overlooking the sea. And off you go: we suggest a fish feast at the tables of Acqua Pazza.
Anchorages on the entire perimeter of the island
The option of staying at anchor is almost inexhaustible, the only variable to consider being the winds. The anchor finds a foothold in the Chiaia di Luna seabed in the western part of Ponza; the bay is well known for its shelter from the east, and it is here that the tunnel cut into the tuffaceous rock, dating back to the Augustan age, connects the beach. At anchor, another option is Cala di Feola, which offers shelter from the winds of the second and third quadrants, but is open to those of the west. A characteristic of this bay is also the small mooring, but this is only used by fishermen. The seabed is 10 to 15 metres deep and is characterized by rock and sand. Perhaps the most beautiful thing here are the natural pools carved out of the tufa rock in which you can bathe. Also worth seeing on land are the characteristic dwellings carved out of the same mining material and, why not, it’s worth taking advantage of the invigorating refreshments near the beautiful fine gravel beach. Or you can continue by walking to the village of Le Forna, where there is no shortage of facilities for stocking up on supplies, and there is also the possibility of hiring mopeds. The path from the village to the beach is a little challenging, but at the top the panoramic view of Cala di Feola and Cala dell’Acqua is truly amazing. Alternatively, to the east is the Bay of Frontone, with a splendid sea that changes from blue to turquoise depending on the winds coming from the west or north-west. This part of the island is where the Bourbon dynasties landed, and the dominating Frontone Fort holds the secrets of an island history waiting to be discovered. Cala Inferno (GPS +lat+: 40.9197 +lon+: 12.9715), the name says it all, surprises Dante’s morals with a splendid cliff that plunges vertically into the sea. The water takes on sea-green hues almost like a diamond, and the seabed here, too, consists of sand and rock.
Lastly, there is Cala Core, for the delight of those who like to explore the seabed with fins, mask and snorkel: it houses the Emerald Caves. Here you are still a long way from the public beach, and the view is all of the mimicry of the rock where nature offers the figure of a heart – hence the name of the cove – that gives the impression of bleeding. The guardian of this passionate scene is the Faraglione del Prete, and at its base is a rich marine scene of octopus and bream, with plenty of added beauty on the seabed. So a dream boat trip to Ponza has been revealed, and now all that remains is to set sail, should anyone still hesitate to set foot (and boat) on this enchanting island.