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4.23.2018

Isola di Ventotene: A Guide to One of Italy's Secret Islands

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene


There is just something about an island. Italy is full of them. Sicily and Sardegna are the biggest, Procida is the Instagram darling, and you already know how I feel about Ponza. Ventotene is rarely mentioned in the roll call.

Located off the coast south of Rome, midway between Ischia and Ponza, Ventotene was where emperors banished troublesome women and dictators imprisoned their political enemies.
 Windswept and isolated and once known as Pandateria, today it is the perfect escape from city life. Completely absent is the frantic buzz that you find on Capri or even the Roman chic vibe of Ponza.
Guide to the Island of Ventotene


How to get to Ventotene

One of the things I love the best about any island getaway is the journey it takes to get there. I particularly love the ferry ride across. You are in this kind of suspended liminal space. Once you lose sight of land, phone signals drop and there is no onboard wifi so you can use the disconnected time to leave behind your real life on the mainland and arrive ready to spend a few days on island time.

To get to Ventotene from Rome you will follow almost the same steps as you would to get to Ponza

There is year-round ferry service between Formia and Ventotene with three crossings a day. In summer there is one additional crossing. There is occasional service from Terracina and seasonal weekend service from Naples and Ischia.  Make sure to check the weather report. If it is very windy only the slowest boat goes

Train from Rome to Formia/Gaeta

There are two train options that go directly from Roma Termini to Formia/Gaeta. You can book a Regionale (9 stops €8.20) or an Intercity train (1 stop, assigned seats, AC and power outlets € 18.)

Ferry/Hydrofoil from Formia to Ventotene

Laziomar  Tickets from €14.90 for the ferry €22 for the hydrofoil.

Golpho Service located at the port in Formia can arrange long-term parking, transfers and left luggage service.


Guide to the Island of Ventotene


Where to Stay


The website Amo Ventotene has a useful list of hotels, b&b's and apartments. We booked a room at the Hotel Villa Liulia. Three rambling floors are directly above the main beach, Cala Nave, all with views towards the island of Santa Stefano. It wasn't quite beach weather so we spent a lot of time on our small balcony. The wifi was excellent and there is AC for when the summer heat arrives.  


Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene

Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene


Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene


Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene

Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene

Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene


Where to Eat on the Island of Ventotene

Where to Eat

The food we ate on Ventotene was remarkable.  From the warm pastries at our hotel in the morning to the slice of pizza we had before we got on the boat to take us back to the mainland, everything was delicious. The components were all local; Think seafood caught that morning, seasonal; Wild asparagus and artichokes were on a lot of menus, and innovative while still being accessible.

Un Mare di Sapori

Rattan loveseats are set deep into the curves of the Roman era port with a view of a fleet of wooden rental boats and a colorful fishing boat or two. We came here a few times. There are wines by the bottle and by the glass and a small selection of craft beer. For apertivo try the Birra al Sedano di Sperlonga, made with white celery and a nice bitter bite and a bowl of deep fried fava beans. On the day we went for lunch we each had a perfectly fried artichoke that was crispy on the edges and meltingly tender inside. We split a bowl of the local specialty, lentil soup, spicy with a swirl of chili olive oil and a garden salad with chunks of tuna and shavings of raw artichoke. There is a small shop inside selling locally made liqueurs, wine, ceramics, and jars of olive oil-packed tuna and pickled vegetables. 

La Terrazza di Mimi'

Once we had checked into our hotel we headed out to explore the island. It's only two kilometers long, so we had plans to stop for lunch at some point. We walked the length first and made note of a sign for a restaurant a little past the mid-point of the island. We walked down the narrow road and found a group at a table finishing their coffee. When I asked if they were open for lunch I was greeted with raucous laughter and told to just wait where I stood. A phone call was made, a van arrived, we took the long way back to the main piazza by way of the ancient Villa Giulia and were delivered to a seaside table practically across from our hotel. It was a little late for lunch, but the kitchen cheerfully listed what was left of the days fresh fish and we soon had plates of spaghetti alle vongole with tangles of wild asparagus and a tiny, perfect triglie aquapazza. Cold white wine with our food and a cup of strong coffee afterward and we were ready for a luxurious afternoon nap. 

Ristorante Bar Zi'Amalia
via Roma 32

This casual spot is on the corner of the main Piazza next to the museum and during the day the outside tables were occupied by men in knit hats playing cards, the owner keeping watch in the doorway greeting every passerby by name. We were welcomed in and given a table next to the glass-fronted kitchen. I had a bowl of lentil soup and two fried triglie that were probably caught in the same net as my lunch. 

Ristorante Il Giardino

On our last night I thought we would do what we often do on a Sunday night in Rome and have a pizza, but when I asked at the front desk I learned that pizzerias were still on their off-season schedule of Saturday nights only. We listed where we had eaten already and were heartily advised to go to Il Giardino. There is a large dining room and lots of starched linen. We ordered a bottle of wine and asked what the specials were. Mark stuck to his favorite spaghetti alle vongole with the island addition of wild aspragus. I had the plin, a sort of ravioli, stuffed with pecorino and ricotta set on a dark green sauce of cima di rape and topped with slivers of tender squid. Mark grudgingly shared his dessert,  an apple pie of sorts, with lots of thin layers of pastry and special annurca apples. We finished our last island supper with glasses of cold finochietto liqueur. 

Mar Pizza
via Porta Romana 12

This informal spot in the Roman port has outside tables where you can take your pizza or tiella slices and beers and enjoy your lunch with a view. You can also have sandwiches made with things like fresh mozzarella and prosciutto stuffed into crusty rolls made from pizza dough. 

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

What to Do

If you are a birder or a sailor, then you might already know about Ventotene as those are two of the main activities on the island. If birds and sailboats are not really your thing, there are a few other things to do here. That said, this is a small, quiet place. If you are looking for a scene, it is not here. If you are looking for a simple, Italian, island experience, Ventotene is heaven. 


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Vist the Museo Archeologico

Located on the ground floor of the Burboun castle, this small museum is filled with ancient amphorae from ancient Roman shipwrecks and a visual modern history of the island. Everything is in Italian, but very well curated, so even if your Italian isn't strong, it worth a visit. 


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Visit Villa Giulia

The story goes that the emperor Augustus banished his daughter Giulia to Ventotene for committing adultery. A more modern interpretation just might be that she was exiled because of her political aspirations. The site is extraordinary, with fragments of marble and frescoes and wild island flowers. You must visit with a guide. Check with the museum for scheduled times or arrange for a private tour. 


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene


Go To The Beach

Cala Nave is the main beach on the island. the thin curve of black volcanic sand is full of sunbeds and umbrellas in the summer season. On a spring afternoon, we had the entire beach to ourselves. 


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Take A Walk

There are very few cars and very few steps on the island making it the perfect place for long, leisurely strolls. There are a few hiking trails, check at the tourist office or your hotel. 


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Sit in the Piazza 

Relax and get yourself on island time with a drink in the piazza. Slow down and maybe order another. Ristorante Bar Verde has a kind of Bar Tripoli vibe or watch the card game on the other side of the piazza at Ristorante Bar Zi'Amalia


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Shop

In the island's main piazza there is a grocery store, a bookstore and a gift shop with ceramics and a small selection of Antica Sartoria dresses from Positano

L'Isola Che Non C'e

This pretty and friendly shop has racks of perfect summer dresses, shelves of striped t-shirts and bikinis, and a small selection of locally made jewelry. 


Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene

Guide to the Island of Ventotene



2 comments :

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  2. Italy Magazine is produced through an international community of people who adore Italia and Italian tradition. We focus on delivering content material which celebrates beauty as well as genuineness in Italian language journey, lifestyle, language as well as meals to assist our visitors stay connected to ITALY in a meaningful way.

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