It is the largest of the Pontine Islands, located in the Gulf of Gaeta and easily reachable by ferry and hydrofoil connections between Formia, Terracina, San Felice Circeo, Anzio, Fiumicino and Naples. The territory is covered with high mountains and rugged coastline and whose waters rich in marine vegetation, which each year attract thousands of diving enthusiasts. It is an island of volcanic origin, with a long and narrow shape, characterized by typical Mediterranean vegetation.
Although the island was inhabited since the Neolithic Ages, the first settlements were founded by the Volsci. Later with the arrival of the Phoenicians and the Greeks, who also gave the island its name, it became an important trading port. During the times of the Roman colonization, Ponza was not only a strategic point but also a preferred resort, as attested by the remains of several noble villas. During the Middle Ages, thanks to the work of the Benedictine monks, it remained for a long time a thriving religious and commercial center, until the island was prey to constant raids by Saracen pirates: the monks were made slaves and the territories were abandoned. Only in 1202, with a bull of Pope Innocent III, the Abbey of Santa Maria in Ponza was re-established and assigned to the Cistercians, and some years later, it was incorporated between the religious communities under the protection of the Basilica of St. Anastasia's Outside the Walls in Rome.
Several are the sea battles fought off the waters of Ponza: Ruggiero of Lauria in 1300, Duke of Calabria, defeated Admiral Doria, at head of the fleet of Frederick II and Alfonso of Aragon was defeated by the Angevin Biagio Assereto in 1435. After heavy and bloody incursions by the Turks in the XVIII century, King Charles III of Naples launched a massive colonization of the island and convinced several inhabitants of the nearby island of Ischia to move and settle here. On June 27th, 1857 , the troops of the expedition of the patriot Carlo Pisacane, sheltered in Ponza, before their defeat on the shores of Sapri.
Mussolini was imprisoned here from July 27th to August 7th, 1943.
Sites of Interest:
- the Roman ruins (the port, the reservoir, the villas, the aqueduct, the city walls, the amphitheater and the fish breeding tanks);
- the underground ancient Greek tomb;
- the charming Town Center, clinging to the rock, which follows a natural slope along the coastline;
- the Church of St. Joseph, built in the last years of the XIX century with a single nave plan;
- the Church of St. Domitilla and Silverio, designed by Antonio Winspeare with tufa stone blocks from an old Spanish owned quarry, which features a circular base surmounted by an imposing dome, and inside are preserved frescoes of Pasquale Mancini of Gaeta, and some XVIII century artworks from the Antique Art Gallery of Palazzo Barberini, such as: "the Nativity of the Virgin" by Michelangelo Cerruti and "The Adoration of the Shepherds" by Antonio Greccolini;
- the Church of Santa Maria Assunta, in the district of Le Forna, simple in style with typical Mediterranean features.