Written by Missy Johnston

Ventotene Italy

Ventotene is one of two inhabited islands and part of six islands called the Pontine Islands of Italy. These islands, are only about 25 – 50 miles off of the west coast of Italy, near Rome and are still relatively unknown and unspoiled. As there are no airports in this island chain and relatively few ferries, Ventotene is best enjoyed as part of an itinerary on a crewed yacht charter.

Port of Ponza
Port of Ponza

The Pontine Islands are comprised of Ponza, Ventotene, San Stephano, Palmarola, Zannone and Gavi. Only Ventotene and Ponza are inhabited. Located in the Tyrrhenian Sea, the Pontine Islands are known for crystal clear waters in varying shades of blue, and Ventotene is especially well known as an excellent scuba diving and snorkeling location. Underwater rock walls and ledges drop off just a short distance from the shores of this island and house a large amount of underwater life. As there are only about 600 people that live on Ventotene year around, the waters stay very unspoiled.

Ventotene Roman Port
Ventotene Port

While relatively unknown now, Ventotene was very well known during Roman times. Dug into the rock of Ventotene is an ancient Roman harbor, still in use today. Also dug into the island along the head of the ancient harbor were caves used by the merchants as vendor stalls. These caves are still used today for modern day merchants to hawk their wares. At the head of the Roman harbor are a series of zigzagging steps up from the port to a large piazza above which is the heart of modern Ventotene.

Ventotene Caves
Ventotene Caves

Another modern harbor has now been built to the side of the Roman harbor, with a manmade breakwater. However, just like Ponza, it was the Romans that left the largest historical legacy on this island. In the Roman harbor area you can see the remains of an ancient Roman fish farm which are a series of 3 pools carved out of the rock, used to grow fish and eels. Also in this area are basins carved out of the rock in which clean salt water was collected and allowed to evaporate to gather salt for the populace. Alongside the new harbor are the remains of a large Roman palace. And inland on the island are a series of Roman cisterns built to provide fresh water.

San Stefano Pontine Islands Italy
San Stefano, Pontine Islands, Italy

The number of few year around inhabitants increases to just a few thousand during the height of the summer season, which gives this island an undiscovered feeling. The whole island can be explored at your leisure by foot, and the several island restaurants always have a selection of fresh seafood right from the surrounding waters.

Ventotene is a must to include in a crewed yacht charter itinerary in this area off of the western coast of Italy.