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Unlike Greece, Italy isn’t a land of islands. Sure, there’s Sicily, Capri, and the Tuscan Archipelago, which includes Elba. But there is also a small set of islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea between Rome and Naples that, according to Guy Dinmore of The Financial Times, “offer a safer and saner way to travel” for those who want a “sedate alternative to dashing around packed piazzas.”
In “Escape to ‘Alcatraz’,” Dinmore explores the Pontine Islands, which were once used as prison islands by the likes of Emperor Augustus and Mussolini.
You can still take a tour of Santo Stefano, the main prison island, which is today uninhabited. Or, stay on Ventotene to visit its subterranean dwellings and Roman cisterns or go snorkeling. Dinmore also touches on Ponza, the most popular of the Pontines, and nearby Ischia, which is not a Pontine island but part of the Flegrean island group that includes Capri and Procida.
Ponza is currently having its day in the sun, as German In Style magazine included it among its round-up of party islands. In Style suggests the following Ponza haunts:
- Il Tramonto, a restaurant that has been dubbed “the most romantic spot in the world”
- Hotel Mari, www.hotelmari.com
- Hotel Limonaia a Mare, www.ponza.com/limonaia, owned by the sisters Fendi
- Ponza Diving Center, http://www.ponzadiving.it
Need more convincing? Check out these spectacular photos from the Pontine Islands on Flickr.