August 1, 2008
We had never heard of the Pontine Islands until a friend mentioned them recently. Out came the pilot book and maps. Sure enough, they sounded wonderful. The five islands lie SW of Rome and NW of Naples. So instead of visiting Rome, not so inviting with the August crowds and stifling heat, we headed offshore to explore a bit of the archipelago.
Sailing toward Isola Zannone just N of Isola Ponza
Our log reached 5000 miles during this leg. How far we've come in both miles and experience in 2 years!
Our first stop was Ponza, the largest of the islands at 8 km. long and 2 km. wide. The rocky mountainous island is incredibly picturesque in a wild and geological way. Rod Heikell's guidebook describes it best: Around the coast the rock pinnacles and cliffs have been eroded into fantastic and wonderful shapes; a geological feast of metamorphosed rock twisted and compressed every which way and then eroded by the wind and sea to further the effect.
The multicolored cliffs are striking
This arch was just S of Tenaya swinging on her hook
Lots of Italians come to the Pontine Islands. Sailboats, power boats of all sizes, RIBs, runabouts and jet skis pack the anchorages during the day. In the late afternoon 99% of them return to marinas leaving the anchorages to the cruising foreigners and few brave locals.
We saw very few foreign ensigns in the Pontine Islands. The only other US flagged boat turned out to be owned by Israelis.
Tenaya anchored along Ponza's E coast
Many rocks rise from the sea just off the coast
Green water laps the many rock outcroppings
We took the dinghy into this sea cave. It was bigger than we'd suspected.
Looking out of the sea cave
Houses perched atop the seaside cliffs
The clear water was a pretty green in places...
...and brilliant blue in others
Definately an island of volcanic origin
The Romans dug caves outside the harbor about 2000 years ago, maybe longer
Inside one of the Roman caves
Ponza's harbor - a crowded place in August
From a distance this gull appeared to be standing on water
August 3, 2008
Only two of the five islands are inhabited, Ponza and Ventotene. Ventotene is smaller and flatter than Ponza but still quite interesting and picturesque.
The small harbor of Porto Vecchio is fascinating, originally carved from the natural stone by the Romans. Much of it is still visable and in use. We anchored off the entrance and took the dinghy in to have a look around.
Porto Vecchio on Ventotene
Porto Vecchio as seen from the sea
Another view of Porto Vecchio
Lighthouse and parts of the harbor carved out of the stone
Katie tying the dinghy to a stone bollard
The old wall in front of the new. Note the stone bollard to which the small boat is tied.
The beach near the harbor is a fantastic place to swim with the islands and smooth rock formations
Colorful houses on Ventotene