On holiday in Ventotene: the beaches, what to see, where to sleep

It took us just those 5 years to finally write an article on this island that has seen us grow up (especially my brother Stefano) and that we love very much. Ventotene is a small island in the center of the Mediterranean that boasts a truly ancient history. The Romans built a lot of things there, the aqueduct, the port and a sumptuous villa for the golden exile of the daughter of Emperor Augustus, Julia. Difficult centuries passed with pirate invasions and looting, until the arrival of the Bourbons (yes, they are always them, my beloved ones ..) who repopulated it and built much of the town (as we see it today) and the famous Santo Stefano prison on the microscopic island opposite. Today Ventotene is instead an island of peace and nature, where you forget everything, and there are really many reasons to visit it.    

10 reasons to go on holiday to Ventotene

1. Perhaps the most valid reason is that it is located a few hours from "home", and it is rare to find places so close that they will make you feel in "another world": in fact, in Ventotene you will quickly lose the notion of time and space, your days will be guided only by the wind and the sea.

2. Despite being "tiny" Ventotene has a number of incredible places rich in history from all eras. From those of the Roman era (the Roman port, Villa Giulia, Tubo Giulia, the Cisterns, the Murenario) to the more "recent" ones such as the Bourbon prison of Santo Stefano, without forgetting the archaeological museum and the fascinating museum of migration.

3. Ventotene is a Marine Protected Area: the sea around Ventotene is basically divided into 3 large protected areas (find the map as soon as you land at the port) with different degrees of protection: please, help to safeguard this fantastic sea while respecting the areas!

4. In Ventotene you can learn to sail with the historical Ventotene Sailing School. This school, in addition to training myself (Stefano), continues to make hundreds of children and adults fall in love with sailing and the sea! Go and find out what they meant to you that time when they yelled at you: "all to port!" or "fuck the mainsail!"

5. If you prefer to be underwater rather than above, you will still be satisfied: in Ventotene there are more than 30 spots of all levels for amazing diving and very varied. From wrecks to caves! The two diving schools: the Ventotene Diving World e Ventotene Diving Academy they will lead you to discover the most suitable ones for you.

6. Onthe island of Santo Stefano, facing the main island, there is a prison, suffice it to say that among the last unfortunate "guests" of this penitentiary there was a certain Sandro Pertini. Do not miss the guided tour for any reason (information at the archaeological museum) to discover all the incredible life, full of twists and turns, of this now abandoned place, from which among other things you will have a beautiful view of Ventotene.

7. In September, there is a week full of events and emotions, the week of Santa Candida (the patron saint of the island) that you will see arriving from the sea at the opening of the celebrations. You can attend the throwing the balls, and at the final races sitting on the zigzag staircase of the Roman port. Book well in advance because in addition to tourists, all the Ventotenesi around the world return here during this week.

8. In spring and autumn, in the period of bird migration, Ventotene becomes an armchair in the front row for birdwatching. In fact, the birds that return from Africa and do not pass either Sicily or Sardinia, find this islet as the first place to rest and refresh themselves. To find out more, even outside the busiest moments, you can go and visit the beautiful Migration Museum.

9. Have you ever seen a port made by the Romans? Yes, the Roman port (also known as the old port), dates back to Roman times and is still the most sheltered port of the island thanks also to its L-shaped structure. On the sides of the entrance you can still admire the bollards made of tuff, which have incredibly resisted over the years.

10. You will hardly believe it but it was in Ventotene that the idea of ​​a European federation was born. In fact, it is here that Altiero Spinelli wrote the manifesto "for a free and united Europe" and every year the “federalist week” takes place in Ventotene with meetings on the subject and with participants from all over the world.

How to reach Ventotene and how to move around the island

Where do you board from

The main port of embarkation is the port of Formia, from where the ships and the hydrofoils of the Laziomar: two connections per day. Between July and September it is also possible set sail from Naples on the hydrofoils of the SNAV.

Depending on the sea conditions, however, there may be last-minute changes. If you want to be sure of the time you should call the Formia ticket office at 0771-267098.

How long does it take from Rome

To reach Formia station from Termini Station in Rome takes about 1h30 by train, from Naples a little less. Once you arrive at the station, if you don't have a lot of luggage, you can reach the port in just 10 minutes on foot, starting from the steps just in front of the station, then just follow the “flow”. Otherwise you can take a taxi.

The journey of the ship, which usually leaves in the morning, takes about 2 hours of navigation to reach the island, while the hydrofoil in the afternoon takes just over 1 hour.

Is it worth bringing a car to the island?

Absolutely not! In addition to being a naturalistic oasis, I assure you that you will abandon your car somewhere on the island after trying to use it (provided that you have managed to get out of the port without falling into the water or redo the side on one of the walls of the center) . In fact, on the island there is practically a road and a half and it is ALL alternating one-way, so while the locals are now skilled in the maneuvers and know all the points where to stop to let pass, you will find yourself face to face with some cars waiting for you to understand where the pitch where you should have stopped is. . In addition, most of the structures provide for the luggage transport service from the port and vice versa, so even upon arrival and departure you are "served".

Another non-negligible factor: the island is 2.5 km long (rocks included) and most of the houses are within a kilometer from the center, so take a walk and take advantage of the landscape and the thousand details of the island, without forgetting to walk all on the same side (yes the roads are the same and there's no room for a sidewalk either!)

If you have arrived in Formia by car, you can leave it in a covered (10-12 € per day) or uncovered (8 € per day) parking lot or board it on the ship and hope to find a parking space at the sports field or at your facility.

The beaches of Ventotene

In Ventotene there are two real beaches:

Cala Nave

It is THE island beach par excellence, one part free and another with the establishments. It is the larger of the two and can be reached, on one side, from the panoramic staircase behind piazza castello (the main square), on the opposite side from the cliff behind the lighthouse (where you will see part of the Roman structures), or in the center through a spectacular tunnel dug into the tuff harder to find. The entrance is at the far end of the Roman port, behind what is called “il pozzillo”; when you find the tables of the restaurant "da Benito" you have found the tunnel!

Cala Rossano

You inevitably saw it arriving on the island, it is indeed the beach located in the bay of the new port. It is smaller and more sheltered, and is the most popular with locals. It is all free beach and in the afternoon you will also have natural shade.

Great Parade

This beach is now inaccessible due to the danger of falling tuff blocks, but you can go and see a magnificent sunset from the road that passes over it.

Other places to swim in Ventotene

Inside the marine area, however, there are many quiet and sheltered coves where you can swim in complete safety that you can reach with the taxi-boats that depart from the Roman port ..

Where to sleep in Ventotene

  • Hotel Agave & Ginestra : for those seeking extreme relaxation. This very nice hotel is located 2 km from the village and has a spectacular view of the sea and the island of S. Stefano. 
  • Hotel Villa Iulia : the hotel is located a stone's throw from the center, on a cliff overlooking the beach of Cala Nave and the island of Santo Stefano. The rooms all have a balcony or terrace with a sea view.
  • Hotel Isolabella : very comfortable hotel located a few steps from the port, near the main square and overlooking the splendid beach of Cala Rossano. 
  • Borgo Cacciatori Hotels: the hotel is located in the center of the island, just over 1 km from the port. It has a swimming pool and a magnificent terrace with a view. 
  • Hotel Mezzatorre: the hotel overlooks the main square of Ventotene, has direct access via steps to the Cala Nave beach and a breathtaking view of the sea.
  • Hotel Calabattaglia: hotel in a very nice location beyond the center of the island, with a good restaurant and a spectacular view. 

Quick questions and answers

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