Travel Itineraries: Ponza, Palmarola and Zannone

A little history


The ancient Romans also frequented Ponza as a vacation spot. It is also true that some noble patricians were exiled there, but it was a golden exile.

During the Punic Wars, Ponza, the largest of the archipelago, was promoted to municipality and actively contributed to the defense of Rome from the Carthaginian fleet.  The Romans built impressive water and port works to supply the ships of the fleet at Cape Misenum with water.  They dug into the soft tuff of its soil to make aqueducts, cisterns, tunnels and docking piers.

In the Middle Ages the islands became depopulated, only a few fortified monasteries resisted, with alternating fortunes, the raids of pirates until the advent of cannons. New colonization of the islands occurred only in the early 18th century by first the Farnese family and then the Bourbons, who rebuilt the village and port.

Before the advent of tourism, the islands, inhabited by farmers and fishermen, served as a political confinement.

Deodat de Dolomieu, forerunner of modern geology, visited the islands and was amazed at the great concentration of minerals in such a small area. The color of the rocks varies from yellow ochre to red, white, green and pearl gray; quartz rhyolites and improbably shaped tuffs make it a magical and beautiful place. Even oceanographer Jacques Cousteau included the islands among the world's ten most beautiful archipelagos.

Ponza


Despite its surface area barely touching 10 square kilometers, the island develops 25 kilometers of coastline. Its crescent shape allows good shelterings from the sea and wind, so much so that its name probably derives from the Greek Pontos, "harbor," so many anchorages are protected by the various quadrants. We point out the harbor bay, protected from sirocco to tramontana but almost always cluttered and busy; Traversia from Greek and levant, which sometimes comes like a cannonade in the middle of the night. In case you need to set sail as soon as possible and shelter on the western side of the island, also because steep waves form in a short time.  The same applies to all bays on the eastern side of Ponza.

Next to the harbor bay is the Frontone, which is wide and has good sandy bottoms, except for the southern side, with rock and shallows. It is the closest anchorage to the town.  Exposed to siroccolevante and grecale.

Continuing the circumnavigation counterclockwise we meet Cala Del Core, a beautiful turquoise sandy bay surmounted by very white cliffs, and following Cala Inferno, also splendid.

The next large bay is called Arco Naturale, an arched stacks dominating the first bend; around it the high cliffs change color to brown.

Doubling the islet of Gavi we pass on the western side of Ponza and encounter Cala delle Felci with emerald water and veins of sulfur on the overhanging rocks, sheltered from southerly winds. The island continues southwest with high inaccessible cliffs, a few bays with rocky bottoms and irregular depths, to Cala dell'Acqua, a wide bay ridged by grecale to noon. The color of the cliffs varies from bright yellow to white.

Next to it opens Cala Feola protected by a breakwater of boulders that protects fishermen's boats. The craggy hills are teeming with brightly colored houses; a fine sandy beach and natural pools carved by nature into the gray tuff make it an ideal stopover with easterly winds. Ashore a few restaurants and several steps to get to the village for supplies.

Continuing south we encounter the superb Lucia Rosa Bay. Turquoise water and Polynesian landscape.

The stretch of coastline beyond the Lucia Rosa stacks presents some pitfalls for navigation, continue with lookout on the bow and reliable electronic charts, there are shallows offshore and ashore to Capo Bianco, full of beautiful caves carved by the waves into snow-white tuff.

Beyond the cape is the large and beautiful bay of Chiaia di Luna, topped by a tall, eggnog-colored cliff. Its beach is magnificent but interdicted because of the danger of landslides. An excellent shelter from the fearsome Levante, the bay was used by the ancient Romans as the island's western port.  They dug a long driveway tunnel in the tufa to connect it to the eastern port, a few hundred meters away as the crow flies.

The seabed is fine sand and the depths gradually decrease offshore allowing plenty of room for anchorage spots even coming at night.

On moonlit evenings the cliff reflects the moonlight illuminating the bay.

Continuing south we round Capo della Guardia with its powerful lighthouse and return to the eastern side of Ponza. Beyond the Faraglioni del Calzone Muto opens the Parata, yet another anchorage of turquoise waters. Offshore are the Formiche rocks, ideal for fishing and diving. Doubling the following Punta della Madonna we return to the bay of the main harbor.

Palmarola
Ponza's younger sister is only 3 miles from Lucia Rosa Bay; same geological nature and cliffs of multicolored rocks. The island is uninhabited in winter but in summer a restaurant is open that rents some cave houses dug by ancient settlers in an attempt to cultivate the little available land.

We start at the Cala del Porto, dominated by the Faraglione di San Silverio and bordered by a beautiful beach where the restaurant is located.  The cove faces west and there are often waves,

with easterly winds it is a unique place.

A somewhat challenging path leads up the mountain. It is well worth the hike. In the extreme southern part of Palmarola stand the Faraglioni di Mezzogiorno with caves that are worth a visit with a tender. The passage between the stacks and the island is possible only by tender (1 meter bottom).

Turning the cape opens into the beautiful Cala Brigantina, so-called because the Bourbons ordered the stationing of a brigantine to keep out the pirates who had found refuge here.  Protected from the west, mistral and grecale, it also allows partial shelter from the east behind Scoglio Suvace.  The place is magnificent, overlooked by a pearl-gray cliff of more than 200 meters.

Continuing the counterclockwise turn we point out to keep well wide (at least 500 mt) for the presence of many almost outcropping rocks hardly visible (Secca Zirri -30 cm).

The eastern side of Palmarola is a good shelter from westerly winds with turquoise waters. The mountain draws multicolored spires and overhangs hemmed in by a few beaches.

Turning Punta Tramontana opens up the scenery of Cala delle Cattedrali, so-calledfor the shapes of the rocks resembling a Gothic cathedral, with caves accessible by swimming. The seabed is challenging because it degrades rapidly, but in good weather the bay is worth a stop.  It feels like being in Polynesia.

Turning northwest point we return to the western side of Palmarola, turn wide for the presence of submerged hazards. Passing the stacks of the Galere, we return to the Cala del Porto.

Palmarola, like Ponza, will be best appreciated by sup or dinghy, going exploring along the shores.

Zannone
Unlike Ponza and Palmarola, long and narrow volcanic faults, Zannone is much older.  It is one of the few places where the Tirrenide, the ancient continent that sank into the sea millions of years ago, still surfaces. The island of Montecristo, Corsica and Sardinia are also part of it.

It is a circular "panettone" with no bays and can be visited only in declared good weather. On its eastern side one can anchor partially ridged from the west.

The island is uninhabited and is part of the Circeo National Park; its vegetation is lush because it has not been cleared and terraced for cultivation like neighboring islands. Its seabed is rich in fish, less disturbed by summer traffic.

It is very interesting to walk the path that leads to the ruins of the ancient Benedictine monastery; it passes through a forest of holm oaks and then reaches the top of a ridge overlooking the entire island. Oaks, fig and strawberry trees, a colony of mouflon imported from Sardinia in the 1960s.

Travel itineraries: Ventotene and Santo Stefano

The eastern group of Ponzian islands is very different from Ponza and Palmarola and includes the small island ofe Ventotene, less than 2 sq km, and the even smaller islet of Santo Stefano. Ventotene is formed in the lower part by the southeastern flank of a volcanic crater, overlaid with layers of more erodible material.  Morphologically, in fact, it constitutes an inclined plane sloping down to the sea regularly, from southwest to northeast, largely cultivated with vines, lentils and vegetables.

Few islands have so much history, ancient and recent, concentrated in such a small piece of land.  It is said, for example, that Ventotene was the island of Ulysses' Sirens. Certainly on Ventotene Caesar Augustus built an imperial villa with baths and theater, the vestiges of which are still there, where he relegated his daughter Julia, who was accused of low moral standards. The island later housed other patrician women and repudiated wives of other emperors, including Agrippina, wife of Tiberius, and Octavia, wife of Nero.  Many Christians self-exiled to Ventotene to escape religious persecution.  As time passed, the island, more difficult to reach than Ponza and lacking natural defenses against pirates, remained uninhabited, until in the 18th century the Bourbon kings who ruled Naples exiled 30 prostitutes and 30 criminals to the island, convinced that contact with nature would lead to a "recovery of morality."  The result of this experiment à la Rousseau is easy to imagine, but the colonization process continued nonetheless with the relocation of 20 families from Torre Annunziata and other towns on the Amalfi coast who were enticed to move to Ventotene with benefits of all kinds.  Even today in Ventotene, despite being part of the Lazio region, the Neapolitan dialect is still spoken.  The 20th century then brought political exiles to Ventotene and Santo Stefano: those confined or exiled by Fascism beginning in the 1920s for their opposition to the regime.

Although the color varieties of Ponza and Palmarola are not present, the island exudes a magical charm, a sense of belonging and inner stillness in most people who visit.  

There are two port facilities, the old Porto Romano, overlooked by the typical Ramps and carved entirely out of tufa, including warehouses, mooring bollards and fishponds, still used by boats up to 15m, and the Porto Nuovo, an artificial extension of Cala Rossano, recently widened. The island, as well as Santo Stefano, is a protected marine reserve.

We start at Punta Eolo, the northernmost cape, which we round as we leave the Porto Nuovo. On the cape we see the remains of the imperial villa.  In the water there are several shallows, so pass outside the Sconciglie, a paradise for diving with or without tanks.  Then come to Cala Parata Grande, redoubt from the east and sirocco; the grippiale is recommended here like almost everywhere around the island due to the presence of large boulders on the bottom that can trap anchor and chain. Continuing counterclockwise, we encounter some bays with emerald waters ridged by easterly winds to the majestic Punta Dell'Arco. We turn the cape and find ourselves on the eastern side, protected by the Mistral.  Every spot is good for anchoring, with the usual precautions.  Continuing northeast we arrive at Cala nave, on land a well-equipped beach with two islets easily reached by swimming, a splendid diving gym.  Beyond that we arrive at the Porto Romano, a great work of port engineering and therefore sheltered from all winds.

Ventotene has magnificent seabed and lends itself to scuba diving. Several diving centers operate in the Porto Romano, and swimming in schools of barracuda or encountering giant groupers is a daily occurrence.

The islet of Santo Stefano is just over .5 nm from the Porto Romano and has no ridges. It houses the Bourbon Prison, which has become a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is now under renovation. It was designed by Kaspar Van Vittel (the Vanvitelli) in the 1700s while he was building the Royal Palace of Caserta and built by his pupils. With its "horseshoe" shape, it is the earliest example of Panopticon, a structure that allowed the guard, placed in the fulcrum, to see inside each cell. A real torment for the poor condemned prisoners.  It was here that two political prisoners, Altiero Spinelli and Ernesto Rossi, secretly wrote  The Ventotene Manifesto (1940-1941), the important document of social reform that first launched the idea of a united Europe and would become a reality some 70 years later. The main building of the European Parliament in Brussels is in fact named after Altiero Spinelli.

Travel itineraries: The Amalfi Coast

The stretch of coast from Punta Campanella to Sorrento is rightly considered one of the most beautiful and evocative in Italy, picturesque villages overlooking the sea, verdant mountains and blue sea. Some areas are protected and regulated.

The first recommended stop is the bay of Nerano, just after Punta Campanella. Ashore gastronomic excellence in typical restaurants. Continuing on, there are coves suitable for stopping up until Positano, pearl of the Coast and an international tourist destination. For stopovers it is necessary to book a mooring buoy with a taxiboat service.  Beyond, one proceeds to Amalfi in a succession of breathtaking landscapes, with splendid villas built on precipices and hanging gardens of vines and lemons overlooking the sea that alternate with medieval fortresses surrounded by patches of lush greenery. A unique place that merits shore excursions by mooring your boat in Amalfi or Cetara, the only marinas on the Coast along with Salerno. Almost everywhere the seabed slopes very rapidly, and it is not easy to find an anchorage. In addition, the coast is exposed to southerly winds, and in case of predicted bad weather, it is a good idea to plan to shelter at Marina di Arechi or turn back expeditiously and shelter beyond Punta Campanella on the Sorrento coast.

Travel Itineraries: Phlegraean Islands

Procida

Appoggiata, come la sorella maggiore Ischia, sulla caldera vulcanica dei Campi Flegrei, Procida è ciò che rimane di un antico vulcano. Le sue rocce sono in gran parte tufacee. L'isola dista solo 40 minuti di aliscafo dal porto di Napoli con cui é ben collegata. Da secoli è luogo di formazione marinaresca ed è sede del nostro RYA Training Centre "Sailing Pro Italy".

Sull'isola vivono oltre 10.000 abitanti distribuiti in diverse contrade molto caratteristiche. Segnaliamo, oltre a Procida Porto, il bellissimo borgo di Corricella -- patrimonio dell’UNESCO -- con il suo porticciolo e le sue case color pastello, Chiaiolella con la sua Marina naturale, e il Palazzo d'Avalos, castello medievale sulla collina più alta dell'isola, un tempo adibito a prigione ed oggi museo. Numerose le spiagge e le cale che meritano una sosta.

Ischia

L'isola è un grande vulcano ancora attivo e culmina col Monte Epomeo che sfiora gli 800 metri.  Con oltre 60.000 residenti divisi in diversi comuni, vanta stazioni termali famose in tutto il mondo, una rinomata cucina tipica e vini pregiati.  Splendide le sue coste orientali e meridionali, più urbanizzate le coste occidentali e settentrionali, animate da borghi antichi con alta vocazione turistica per gran parte dell'anno. Ischia Porto, Casamicciola, Lacco Ameno, Forio e Sant'Angelo sulla costa, tante contrade sulle colline da visitare: panorami, siti archeologici, ristoranti tipici e stazioni termali.

Le baie più belle e particolari sono sulla costa meridionale; le fonti di acqua termale, in alcuni punti, sfociano in mare regalando esperienze di bagni fuori dal comune.

In particolare a Cava Scura e a Sorgeto. Sulla costa orientale dell'isola merita una sosta la baia del Castello Aragonese, con visita all'antica struttura fortificata.

Capri

La regina del mar Tirreno ha una tradizione turistica millenaria. L'imperatore Tiberio vi costruì una sontuosa villa dalla quale governò il suo impero nel primo secolo a.C.

La sua natura geologica è molto differente da Ischia e Procida, l'isola è il prolungamento della penisola Sorrentina a cui era unita nel Pleistocene.  Di natura carsica, le sue rocce calcaree ricordano le Dolomiti.  Isola verdissima, merita una escursione a terra per ammirare i suoi famosi giardini e i suoi borghi multicolore, le vie dello shopping, i ristoranti e i locali notturni. Le sue coste sono molto scoscese e ricche di grotte, i fondali quasi ovunque degradano rapidamente e il traffico vacanziero è spesso molto movimentato. Le baie più belle sono Marina Piccola e sotto la villa dell'imperatore Tiberio.

Phlegraean Islands

Procida

Leaning, like its big sister Ischia, on the volcanic caldera of the Phlegraean Fields, Procida is what remains of an ancient volcano. Its rocks are largely tuffaceous. The island is only 40 minutes by hydrofoil from the port of Naples, with which it is well connected. It has been a place of maritime training for centuries and is home to our RYA Training Center Sailing Pro Italy.

Over 10,000 inhabitants live on the island, distributed in several very characteristic districts. We point out, in addition to Procida Porto, the beautiful village of Corricella -- a UNESCO heritage site -- with its small harbor and pastel-colored houses, Chiaiolella with its natural Marina, and the Palazzo d'Avalos, a medieval castle on the island's highest hill, once used as a prison and now a museum. Numerous beaches and coves are worth a stop.

Ischia

The island is a large volcano that is still active and culminates in Mount Epomeo, which is nearly 800 meters high.  With more than 60,000 residents divided into several municipalities, it boasts world-famous spas, renowned cuisine and fine wines.  Its eastern and southern coasts are splendid, the western and northern coasts more urbanized, animated by ancient villages with a high tourist vocation for much of the year. Ischia Porto, Casamicciola, Lacco Ameno, Forio and Sant'Angelo on the coast, many hamlets on the hills to visit: panoramas, archaeological sites, typical restaurants and spas.

The most beautiful and special bays are on the southern coast; the thermal water springs, in some places, flow into the sea giving unusual bathing experiences.

In particular at Cava Scura and Sorgeto. On the east coast of the island, the bay of the Aragonese Castle is worth a stop, with a visit to the ancient fortified structure.

Capri

The queen of the Tyrrhenian Sea has a thousand-year tourist tradition. Emperor Tiberius built a sumptuous villa there from which he ruled his empire in the first century BC.

Its geological nature is very different from Ischia and Procida; the island is an extension of the Sorrento peninsula to which it was united in the Pleistocene.  Karst in nature, its limestone rocks are reminiscent of the Dolomites.  A verdant island, it deserves a shore excursion to admire its famous gardens and multicolored villages, shopping streets, restaurants and nightclubs. Its coasts are very steep and full of caves, the seabed almost everywhere degrades rapidly, and holiday traffic is often bustling. The most beautiful bays are Marina Piccola and below the villa of Emperor Tiberius.

Travel itineraries: Aeolian Islands

The seven volcanic cones rising from the abyssal Tyrrhenian plain, with anchorages of often challenging depths, make for a fascinating cruising itinerary for its landscapes, shore excursions, typical cuisine and Sicilian Baroque-style villages.

Starting from the west we find Alicudi, a small circular volcano with steep coastlines that can be reached only in declared good weather. Its small village of a hundred souls appears suspended in time. 

Filicudi, another volcano with the most improbable rock formations and a couple of bays suitable for anchorages; for the past few years mooring buoys have been placed for a fee in the Cala del porto and near the village of Pecorini a Mare.

Salina, the greenest, formed by two volcanoes, is home to several villages, Malfa, Rinella, Leni and Santa Marina with its tourist marina; in addition to the splendid sea, the island produces prestigious wines. We point out the anchorage of Pollara and that of Lingua.

Lipari, is the most rugged; its western bays and ancient volcanic pumice quarry are splendid. The port of Pignataro, in Lipari Bay, is the only one worthy of the islands' appellation besides the marina at Salina. Make reservations in advance.

Alternatively there are floating docks in the bay but exposed to the annoying waves of ferries.

The austere Vulcano is worth a shore excursion for its thermal mud, crater visit and black beaches. Mooring options in the eastern and western harbors.

Little Panarea, with more practicable seabed and favored by young people for its worldly vocation.  The anchorages of Dattilo and Lisca Bianca are beautiful.

From afar looms the unmistakable silhouette of Stromboli, which, with its often fiery plume, is the only visibly active volcano, with splendid black sand beaches, the village full of charm and with a peculiar atmosphere, surely due to coexistence with "idda," the rumbling mountain.

Travel Itineraries: Cilento


The Cilento promontory represents a destination less traveled by holiday traffic, despite
the fact that its sea is among the clearest in the Tyrrhenian Sea. We describe it starting
from the Gulf of Agropoli with its roadstead and marina. It is a good base for visiting the
temples of ancient Paestum, and the medieval village of Agropoli. The coast to Punta
Licosa is relatively shallow and dotted with beaches with some shallows to watch out
for. Turning the point there is a good anchorage ridged by the Mistral in the Rada di
Ogliastro. The coast continues southeast with alternating beautiful beaches and rocky
areas, along the route some marinas nearing completion and some marinas already
operational, others lacking services (San Nicola, Acciaroli and Casal Velino, Marina
di Pisciotta, Palinuro).

Cape Palinuro extends out to the west creating two wide bays, to the north the bay of
the Port protected from southerly winds, to the south the Bay of Buondormire,
protected from northerly and westerly winds. At the Cape many beautiful caves to visit
by SUP or swimming. Beautiful cliffs and lovely beaches before arriving at Marina di
Camerota, the best equipped port in Cilento. After Camerota the road goes inland and
the coast becomes wild, verdant and devoid of urban settlements; this area is regulated
by the Marine Protected Area of the Infreschi and Masseta and it is not possible to
anchor, but the beautiful bays are equipped with mooring buoys. Cala degli Infreschi
is a magical place, very well sheltered, with ice-cold water due to freshwater springs
emerging from the overhanging rocks. Numerous caves, beaches and lonely coves until
we reach the delightful village of Scario with its marina. We have now entered the Gulf
of Policastro, which we meet after a few miles, the coast lowering hemmed in by
beaches to the gulf of Sapri, which has a good marina and a well-protected roadstead.
The town is connected by high-speed trains to all of Italy.
Below, the mountains approach the coast again near Maratea, which also has a tourist
marina. Here too there are beautiful beaches, caves and coves all the way to Dino
Island.