The Pontine Islands
The Archipelago of the Pontine or Ponziane islands (in the province of Latina) comprises two groups of islands, positioned NW and SE of each other, at distance of some 22 miles.
The northeastern group is composed of the island of Ponza (the administrative center) and the small islands of Palmarola, Gavi and Zannone.
The Southeastern group comprises Ventotene (the administrative center) and the small island S.Stefano.

Is the largest of the islands; its outline is varied and broken, with an exceptional series of bays and inlets, and the rock formation shows great variety of shapes and colours, seen in the volcanic layers, which are predominantly, limestone and trachyte.
The local people have christened the various places with the most colorful names; starting from the northeastern spur called Punta dell'Incenso and continuing southward, one travels through some enchanting places: the small isle of Gavi, Cala Caetano, Scoglio di Aniello, Scoglio Spaccapolpi also called Natural Arch, Punta Nera, Cala d'Inferno, Cala del Core, Cala del Frontone, Scoglio Ravia, S.Maria, Giancos, down to the shipping lane.
This is protected to the east by the Punta della Madonna (with the nearby cliffs), under which lie the Pilatus Caves where the ancient Romans bred Muraena fish, and which have given birth to many picturesque local legends. Continuing the tour, one passes the Calzone Muto Cliffs, the Punta della Guardia with its lighthouse, Punta del Fieno, the Punta Bianca and so on: the Maria Rosa Cliffs, Capo Bosco, Gala Feola, Gala dell' Acqua, Punta del Papa, Gala Fontana, Punta Beppe Antonio, and finally Gala Caparra. The main town comprises two nuclei: Ponza itself which is built up around the port, and Le Forna, 5 miles away by road, with their attractive low, whitewashed houses affording a typical architectural unity. The port is a small amphitheatre designed by the architect Winspeare in Bourbon times.

Situated about 8 miles from the port of Ponza, Palmarola can be reached by hired boats.
It is uninhabited, but in summer facilities are laid on for tourists.
Its natural characteristics resembles Ponza's.

Lies 6 miles from Ponza and it is a sanctuary for migratory birds.
It is one of the few places where typical mediterranean flora and fauna have remained undisturbed.
A small colony of Moufflon sheep have been living there for many years.
By the small port there is a Muraena fishery,dating back to roman times.
On the island stands the remains of the ancient convent S.Spirito. The island is a part of the Circeo National Park.

is the other administrative center of the Archipelago.
It is about 1.3/4 miles long and just over half a mile broad at the widest point; it reaches an altitude of only 4,280 ft. At Monte dell'Arco.
It is quite different in character to Ponza; it is more compact and its volcanic origin can be seen from the reddish-brown soil, covered with shrubgrowth and cactus.
This is where the beautiful Julia(Augustus' daugher), Agrippina(Germanicus' wife) and Octavia()Nero's barren wife lived in exile.
The remains of an imperial villa stand near Punta Eolo. The Church dedicated to S.Candida, dates back to 1765 and was designed by Winspeare.
A tour around the island will bring many surprises; Punta Eolo with its typical low vertical rocks in the form of parallelepiped; Cala Rossano with its tiny port for motorboats; the beach; the "grottes"; the tufa stone at Punta Pertuso where the little Roman port was built with its quay-sides topped by attractive natural tufa-stone arches: the tiny beach of Cala Nave with two cliffs called Nave di Terra and Nave di Fuori; Punta dell'Arco, Punta Pascone, Cala Parata Grande with another small beach, and the Sconcigli Cliffs.
The charming little town, with its simple clear colours, represents a typical mediterranean settlement.
In 1999 the Ministry of the environment established the Land and Marine Reserve of Ventotene and Santo Stefano, in order to preserve and protect a part of the Tyrrhenian Sea offering some of the Mediterranean's most extraordinary settings.

Less Than half a mile from Ventotene, the name of S.Stefano has for long been associated with the former for life-sentences, long since closed.
The building, which is circular, was built in 1974-1975 by the architect Carpi.
The prison buildings are well worth visiting and not only out of curiosity.