A dive where the water is bluer, between history, adventure and relaxation (Part 5)
A trip to the smaller Italian islands, without forgetting a strip of land. This is the purpose of this five-step itinerary, which ends with the other Italian archipelagos: that of the Pontine islands, that of the Pelagie islands and that of the coastal islands of Sardinia, passing through Ustica and Pantelleria.
Italian islands: the small Pontino Archipelago, a small rest stop between Lazio and Campania
“An island that knew how to remain an island. A microcosm in itself. Ponza is surly and beautiful. Reluctant, suspicious and never predictable. Among prickly pears, bougainvillea and broom explosions, I get lost in the beauty of its sunsets and find my paradise on earth “(Eugenio Montale)
Soul of Campania and Lazio membership. Ponza is an island suspended in an irreconcilable dualism and one of the most coveted destinations by Italian stars, within the Circeo National Park. The bond between the sea and the land is very strong in this small Italian island. An inland difficult to manage, with hills, stacks, jagged coastline, cliffs, caves and inlets. And then beautiful and wide beaches: Frontone, Cala Feola, Chiaia di Luna. The beauty in Ponza should be conquered, at the cost of fatigue and sweat, but wonder is the best reward. Trekking lovers adore climbing over these steep slopes to inebriate themselves with unique landscapes in the world. Wild in autumn, fashionable in summer. The island of Ponza shows its history to all: the great Roman imperial villas, the caves of Pilate, the Bourbon Forts, the Benedictine monasteries, the cave-houses carved out of the tufa. Silent witness of the time that passes the mountain La Guardia, which from its terraced slopes gives Fieno, local wine worked in ancient tanks carved into the rock and stored in cellars carved into the tufa. And for those who are not afraid to dare, there is a path that leads to the islet of Zannone, accessible only to trekking experts, who go so far as to discover the villa in abandonment of the Casati Stampa, a place of scandal and tragedy and evocative remains of the convent of St. Spirito.
An island that was once a family island, of the Vitiello family, to be exact. Terraced and cultivated land, dairy cows and many, many rabbits. Then from the earth began to extract kaolin, on the beautiful island landed the industry and brought financial trouble for the Vitiello family, forced to sell the entire island to the City of Rome.
One of the wildest and most fascinating Italian minor islands. Its name derives from the dwarf palm that grows on the island; due to its particular shape it is also called “Forcina”. On this small Italian island was exiled and died in 537 Pope St. Silverio, became patron saint of the Ponzeses. The places not to be missed on the island of Palmarola are the four main bays: the cala del Brigantino, used by pirates as a hiding place, Cala Tramontana, Cala la Cathedral (with pillars similar to a Gothic cathedral, in fact) and Cala del Porto . To be admired and envied from far away is the Villa od Fendi’ sisters, great name of Italian fashion in the world.
The island of Ventotene, one of the most beautiful and unspoiled of the Ponziano archipelago. A volcanic island, which owes its name to the strong wind that continues to cool the surface. Here daughters, nephews and wives of emperors were sent to exile: Julia, daughter of Augustus; Agrippina, nephew of Tiberius; Octavia, wife of Nero. All the unwanted people ended up here and judging from the landscape, it turned out to be more of a reward than a punishment. In 1941, Sandro Pertini and other illustrious confines drew up the Ventotene Manifesto, a forerunner of the Maastricht Treaty on the European Union. An itinerary to Ventotene must necessarily include: the Roman port; cisterns for collecting water, covered with graffiti; Villa Giulia, augustean residence with spa. Let’s not forget the beaches: Cala Rossano, the beaches of Parata della Postina and Parata Grande, enchanting pieces of paradise. The Ventotene landscape also includes an islet, that of Santo Stefano, completely uninhabited, with the only presence of the ancient Bourbon prison.
Italian islands: Ustica and Pantelleria
The first natural marine reserve in Italy. The province is that of Palermo, the land is that of Sicily. A black pearl born from a volcanic eruption, a burned island, as the Latin name “Ustum” suggests. The walls of the houses on the small Italian island are enriched by numerous murals by famous artists. The sea is crystal clear, the seabed is loved by diving enthusiasts and the flora and fauna are very rich, to the point of needing continuous protection. To visit absolutely: Grotta Azzurra, Grotta Pastizza, Grotta delle Barche, Scoglio del Medico. The island also boasts numerous archaeological sites, such as the prehistoric village, Rocca della Falconiera, Torre Santa Maria and Torre dello Spalmatore. Sadly jumped to the headlines for the 1980 aerial tragedy, today Ustica has recovered its place among the most beautiful Italian minor islands.
Between Italy and Africa there is this small strip of land with no trace of sand. In place of the tiny grains there are pebbles of volcanic stones, which mark the path to the crystal clear waters. Places to put on your diary? The Balata dei Turchi, so called for a slab (balata) of lava flow that allows access to the sea; Cala Cottone, an inlet used for the transport of textile materials; the Arco dell’Elefante, a huge proboscis lava rock; the Pond of the Ondine; the Big Mountain, with a direct view of the African coast. For lovers of well-being, a must for the natural thermal baths of the Grotta di Benikuà or Natural Sauna di Sibà, a fault from which water vapour reaches about 40 degrees. Do not worry, there are also the mud of the Lago Specchio di Venere. And against the small daily ailments there are Cala Gadir, from the Arabic “water basin”, with tanks of very hot water dug into the rock, and the Grotta del Freddo, also known as “Pirtusu du Nutaro”, the notary’s hole, with jets of water around 10 degrees. The characteristic Italian island has earned the appellation of Unesco World Heritage, thanks to the practice of the vine-shaped vine, the Pantelleria gardens and typical houses, the dammusi, lava stone constructions with domed roofs to collect water rainwater.
Closer to the African coast than to the Italian one. The last fragment of the Peninsula presents an arid landscape and crystal clear waters. The seabed collect the rarest species of fish. A changing island, depending on the season: in October it is white and blue due to the presence of the scilla, in March and April it is yellow due to the blooming of the acacias and false acacia, in summer it becomes violet and lilac with the wild thyme and flowers of thistle. The “Isola dei Conigli”, an island on the island, awaits you for a moment of pure relaxation.
A volcanic island formed thousands of years ago, a nature reserve that collects rare species, visible only here. Here the turtles of the Caretta Caretta species lay their eggs on the Pozzolana beach. One of the small Italian islands ideal for an intimate and special holiday, to pass in the typical houses of the island, white in colour and square in shape.
Legend wants that this tiny Italian island actually is nothing but a boulder escaped from the hands of a Cyclops. Here pristine nature reigns and the only trace of man is the lighthouse that gave the island its name. It is not uncommon to come face to face with small sharks, they are said to be harmless, in doubt you start to swim.
Italian islands: the Maddalena archipelago, small gems of Sardinian coastline
We are in the sea of Sardinia, among many small islets. Here there is one of the most known minor Italian islands. Fascinating sea views await you from the small harbour of Cala Gavetta. Crossing the suburb Moneta you will be able to catch all the nuances of the local dialect. There are places on the island of La Maddalena that enter the heart, like the Bassa Trinità beach, with its almost transparent sand. Play of light in Testa del Polpo, between the pink granite rocks and the transparent sea. What remains is a show difficult to forget.
The entire island has been named Nature Reserve and located within the La Maddalena National Park. An example of rare natural beauty, historically linked to the figure of Garibaldi, who spent 26 years of life here. Cala Napoletana welcomes every year thousands of tourists, through white sand, pristine sea and Mediterranean scrub. Other marvels to note: Cala Andreani, covered with coarse sand and Cala Coticcio, covered by a beach of fine and clear sand. The most famous place? Undoubtedly the White House, the ancient home of the Hero of the two worlds, which recalls the South American fazendas. Behind the house is the grave of rough granite, where his embalmed remains are preserved.
Often nicknamed the Devil’s Island, Asinara is one of the most characteristic small Italian islands. A narrow and elongated shape and a jagged coastline, which saw the island first become a quarantine health station, then in a prison camp during the First World War and in a maximum security prison during the terrorist period over the years ’70, which also hosted the judges Falcone and Borsellino during the preparation of the MaxiProced the mafia. Today the island is an ideal place for those who dream of a holiday to discover uncontaminated landscapes and rare creatures, first of all the emblematic White Donkey: the small albino donkey, symbol of Asinara.
The island of Sparvieri awaits all diving enthusiasts. To the north opens the romantic panorama of Cala Vinagra, then the emerald waters of Cala Fico Più and then Capo Sandalo, dominated by a nineteenth-century lighthouse. The islet of Corno hosts real sport fishing competitions. To the south stands the symbol of San Pietro, the two stacks called Le Colonne, and a splendid inlet, La Conca.
To welcome visitors on one of the most beautiful Italian islands is the beautiful and white Sottotorre beach. Deserted and intimate beaches are scattered here and there, while luxury, wealth and extreme comfort await you in Cala Lunga, Cala della Signora and Cala Sapone. The best known beaches? That of Coaquaddus and that of Maladroxia, which in summer are filled with familiar faces.
Italian Islands: the Tremiti, the archipelago of the lower Adriatic
In Puglia, in the province of Foggia, there is a marine nature reserve inside the Gargano National Park. Tourism, rich vegetation, pristine sea, ideal for diving. According to legend, the islands of Diomede or Diomedee preserve the remains of the famous Homeric hero. The goddess of love Aphrodite turned his companions into procellaries, big birds, so that they would continue to complain about the loss of their lord and watch over the grave. The archipelago consists of five small islands, deeply different.
Only two are inhabited: San Nicola and San Domino. The others are Capraia, Cretaccio and the distant Pianosa.