Ponziane Islands, Italy

The Pontine (or Ponziane) Islands are an archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy. The islands were collectively named after the largest island in the group, Ponza.

The other islands in the archipelago are Palmarola, Zannone, and Gavi to the northwest, Ventotene and Santo Stefano to the southeast. These two groups are separated by 22 nautical miles (41 km). From Sabaudia-Cape Circeo peninsula to Zannone the distance is 12 nautical miles (22 km), while Ventotene faces Gaeta (21 miles). The minimum distance between Santo Stefano and the isle of Ischia is 22 nautical miles (41 km).

The archipelago is the result of volcanic activity and has been inhabited for thousands of years. Neolithic artifacts and Bronze Age obsidians have been excavated on the islands. The islands were used by the Etruscans who carved the "Blue Grottos".

During the reign of Rome's Caesar Augustus, residential expansion on the islands was encouraged and people spread from Ponza to Ventotene. Rome used the two islands as a retreat and a place to exile politically troubling citizens.

Ponza and Ventotene are populated, while the smaller islands are not. Ventotene and Santo Stefano are land and sea conservation areas supervised by the Italian State.

Currently, tiny vineyards, wild herbs and flowers, and secluded beaches and grottos make them a popular tourist destination.

Going to the biggest island of Ponza is all about living and breathing 'il mare' - the sea. You either own or rent a boat and you spend your days puttering up and down the coast, swimming in coves and grottoes that aren't accessible by land, picnicking under the unrelenting Mediterranean sun and cooling off in the brilliant turquoise waters. By sunset, everyone goes for the evening passeggiata on the same street and for aperitivo drinks at the same bars.

While cruises are available year round the main season is from March to October to take advantage of the longer days and warmer weather. Weather during the cruise season is warm to hot and the days are long and generally sunny. Most rain in the region falls in the winter months.

Language: Italian
Currency: Euro, Italian Lira
Time Zone: UTC/GMT +2 hours

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