We want to visit the Amalfi Coast for many reasons, including spending a few days on a white sandy beach – preferably somewhere with whitewashed houses that cascade down to a fishing village.
This was a recent request from clients. There are some pretty beaches on the Amalfi Coast and nearby, but it wouldn’t be my first recommendation for what they described. Instead I suggested: definitely visit the Amalfi Coast. But for the beaches, go spend a couple days on the island of Ponza. (And they did.)
Ponza is a small island, with small towns, beaches, fisherman, and good food. It’s full of Italians, but not so full of foreigners. Bring a book, your knitting needles, your paint brushes, and your bathing suit. It’s island life. You know that dolce vita or the dolce far niente you’ve been hearing about? Well Ponza is where it’s at. Hang out. Eat. People-watch. Go for long walks. Lay on the beach. Enjoy fresh food. Get to know the locals.
From Rome, take the train to Anzio or Formia, either of which is just over an hour ride away (to the south, so in the direction of Naples) as long as you don’t get the slow train. Then take the 1-hour hydrofoil (www.vetor.it) or the 2-3 hour boat (www.caremar.it). Boats to Ponza also leave directly from Naples in July and August.
Even though it’s where the boats come in, staying near the harbor is convenient because you can do a lot on foot. Don’t rent a car, or you’ll spend your time stuck in traffic. If you’re a very confident scooter or motorbike driver, the perfect way to get around the island is by motorbike/vespa/scooter, but I highly recommend not trying to learn to drive one on Ponza. You can also take taxis, water taxis, or the bus – which is somewhat old and dilapidated, but will get you around the island.
Many of Ponza’s beaches are reached only by water taxi, so grab one in the harbor and either set a time to have them pick you up, or call when you’re ready. Beaches worth visiting include (click on words to see images) Frontone, Cala Felice, Lucia Rosa grotto, Tirreno beach, Cala Feola beach (on the other end of island), the natural pools, Piana bianca. If you’ve got more than 2 or 3 days, consider a day trip to the nearby island of Palmarola (pictured in the misty photo with Ponza at the top of this post).
Other than beach-hopping and participating in the Italian dolce far niente on the island of Ponza, I’d recommend a meal at Il Tramonto (“sunset”), which has the best views on the island.
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