Escursioni delle isole Ponziane

Excursions Zannone

The small island Zannone is the only one of the islands of the Pontian Archipelago not of volcanic origin. Since 1979 it became part of the Circeo National Park.

From the islet of Gavi to the extreme north of Ponza, the route leads straight to the "Varo", the only place suitable for landing on Zannone when the sea is calm.
The island's landscape can be best discriped as the compact cushions of mastic and phillyrea. The Mediterranean scrub, with rosemary, heather, euphorbia accompanies us along the eroded volcanic rocks from the south-west side to the Grottelle. After the Scoglio Monaco, a tuff gobbled up by the sea where it is difficult to pick up those features of a monk that someone must have seen there, and continuing towards Punta Levante, the geological treasures of Zannone emerge. Very ancient metamorphic rocks, perhaps dating back to about 300 million years ago, completely different, in terms of history and origin, from the other volcanic rocks present on the island and throughout the archipelago. From Punta del Lauro to Capo Negro, other points of interest follow one another: the rich vegetation of holm oaks, laurels, heather and ephedroid gorse, high rocky layers of limestone and outcropping dolomites, Cala Marina and the small cove called Ceca dei pesci, where in the past the fishermen grouped shoals of fish to be caught in a sort of bloodless "slaughter".

From Capo Negro, towards the Lighthouse and beyond, we discover other sedimentary rocks, gray limestone with sandstone, dark marl and other vegetation on top. In fact, it is on the northern side of Zannone that the most appreciable testimony of the ancient vegetation of the archipelago remains, elsewhere destroyed by centuries of tree cutting and, more recently, by fires. The holm oaks, some very old, accompanied by strawberry trees, olive trees and alaterni form a thick and impenetrable intertwining, a high "forteto" - this is how the thickest and most luxuriant Mediterranean scrub is defined - destined, with the protection ensured by the Circeo National Park, to perhaps become a real evergreen forest. The short tour of the island ends by returning to the Varo.

Zannone has no appreciable shelters and those who sail, if the weather is not more than good, must stay on Ponza, in the port or in the bay. As we have already said, the only place suitable for landing on Zannone is the Varo near the Peschiera from the Roman era. The sea must be calm otherwise it is not possible to disembark.

A few steps and the world is behind you. The walk begins in the unspoiled nature of an island where, except for a few agents of the State Forestry Corps, no one else will be around. There are no snakes on the island but on the other hand there are many lizards, the black ones of a species that according to the signs posted by the Park live only here. When you enter the "small forest" you are accompanied by the cry of the seagulls and those of birds and insects present, nothing else. The walk must be done in the utmost silence otherwise the mouflons escape. This rare species of goat arrived on the island after the war and has been thriving undisturbed ever since. Until a couple of years ago there were also donkeys. You go up through the woods, no sign indicating the "belvedere" but when you get there, coming out of the vegetation there is the spectacle of Ponza and Palmarola on one side and the coast on the other. And at the bottom the crystal clear sea. The descent towards the Lighthouse can begin in a barren part, but no less fascinating. But first a visit to the remains of the Cistercian monastery. The Benedictine monks first lived in Zannone and the Cistercians later. The Cistercian monks erected the monastery of Santo Spirito which they abandoned in 1300 due to continuous pirate raids. Legend has it that there can’t be found any snakes because they went away with the same monks, to the sound of a flute, towards the Montagna Spaccata di Gaeta where a similar monastery is located.

A few steps and the world is behind you. The walk begins in the unspoiled nature of an island where, except for a few agents of the State Forestry Corps, no one else will be around. There are no snakes on the island but on the other hand there are many lizards, the black ones of a species that according to the signs posted by the Park live only here. When you enter the "small forest" you are accompanied by the cry of the seagulls and those of birds and insects present, nothing else. The walk must be done in the utmost silence otherwise the mouflons escape. This rare species of goat arrived on the island after the war and has been thriving undisturbed ever since. Until a couple of years ago there were also donkeys. You go up through the woods, no sign indicating the "belvedere" but when you get there, coming out of the vegetation there is the spectacle of Ponza and Palmarola on one side and the coast on the other. And at the bottom the crystal clear sea. The descent towards the Lighthouse can begin in a barren part, but no less fascinating. But first a visit to the remains of the Cistercian monastery. The Benedictine monks first lived in Zannone and the Cistercians later. The Cistercian monks erected the monastery of Santo Spirito which they abandoned in 1300 due to continuous pirate raids. Legend has it that there can’t be found any snakes because they went away with the same monks, to the sound of a flute, towards the Montagna Spaccata di Gaeta where a similar monastery is located.

Subsequently, on a part of the remains of the monastery, the Marquis Camillo Casati Stampa di Soncino built a villa now also in a state of neglect. Since the 1920s the island had been given in concession to the Casati family as a hunting reserve. The Marquis Camillo, Camillino for his friends, prided himself on keeping tourists away with gunfire. Camillino loved to invite soldiers, sailors, students, couples of swingers to Zannone as he felt the greatest pleasure to see his wife, Anna Fallarino, join with other men, while he photographed them. A menage that culminated in the double murder and suicide in the penthouse in via Puccini in Rome, when Camillo shot his wife as well as one of his young lovers, Massimo Minorenti, and in turn took his own life.
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Excursions Ponza

No stay in Ponza is complete without a classic tour of the island, a tour of the island coasts to admire the colors of the sea, the small bays and the splendid caves.
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Excursions Palmarola

Palmarola has been defined by Folco Quilici as one of the most beautiful islands in the world. The Palmarola tour departs from the port of Ponza every day.