Ventotene, a treat in the Tyrrhenian Sea
The island of Ventotene and the islet of Santo Stefano are an extraordinary combination of natural habitats.
Ventotene's history goes back no less than 4,000 years, but what deeply marks it is above all its fate as an “island of confinement” in different historical periods. In imperial times, the Augustan imperial villa was built, with a harbour and fishery attached. Caesar Augustus decided to exile his daughter Giulia and chose Ventotene. Giulia was only the first of a long list of exiles. After the 1st century A.D., the abandonment of the island began. The Middle Ages saw the presence of Cistercian monks, some of whom were sent into exile because they were undesirable to the Order. So next to the little church where they prayed, there was a prison for those in exile. In 1772 the repopulation of the island began with Frederick IV of Bourbon: twenty-eight families arrived from Torre del Greco, Torre Annunziata, Ischia, Naples, Amalfi and Gioia del Cilento. The urbanisation project was entrusted to Antonio Winspeare and the engineer Francesco Carpi, who also participated in the construction of the prison on the islet of Santo Stefano. Its modern history is linked, once again, to its function as a political exile but also as a penal colony until 1965, as well as a military outpost.
Its fate has made it an extraordinary location, one of a kind. From an "island of confinement" to a place of remembrance and an “island of Europe”. The Bourbon prison of Santo Stefano on the smallest islet of Santo Stefano is a must-see. Although considered a model prison at the time, its structure recounts and emphasises the psychological effects on the prisoners. The Centre for Research and Documentation on Political Confinement and Detention, which collects and enhances the documentary heritage on
detention and internment, is very interesting. Finally, the Tomb of Altiero Spinelli, who was confined here for several years and is remembered for his Ventotene Manifesto, considered one of the founding texts of the European Union, is also worth a visit.
The island of Ventotene and the islet of Santo Stefano are two small pearls that enclose a natural heritage of extraordinary beauty in a few square kilometres. An environment rich in vegetation and fauna, a treasure trove of sea, coastline and above all fish species to be preserved
and protected, in short, a Nature Reserve and a Protected Marine Area. A beloved stopover for migratory birds and a natural nest for over 100 species of birds, it is a fascinating birdwatching destination. A true wonder, between sky, land and sea. Take your binoculars and camera with you. Take your wetsuit with you if you are keen on scuba diving. In the depths, you will discover delightful scenery. Even ships from Roman times.
It is such a captivating island that some Italian directors have chosen it as a film set for their movies. Paolo Virzi shot August Vacation and Paolo Sorrentino The new Pope. Of course, Alberto Negrin could only shoot the TV film A New World here as it focuses on the "adventure" of Altiero Spinelli, Ernesto Rossi, Eugenio Colorni, Ursula Hirshmann and Ada Rossi in writing the Ventotene Manifesto.
Our gastronomy will also bewitch you with its a mix of flavours from land and the sea. Lentils (Slow Food Taste Area) prepared in soup, Cianfotta a tasty vegetable stew, not to mention the murena in scapece cooked with the pink onion of Ventotene are exceptional.
Ventotene is a treasure waiting to be discovered.