Postcards from the Mediterranean: Ponziane Archipelago, Lazio (Italy)
Between the 16th and the 20th of May, 4 ecotourism experts and two media participants visited Ponziane Achipelago to test the quality and sustainability as well as to increase the visibility of the multi-day ecotourism package that the Italian DestiMED PLUS pilot action has developed using the MEET Model! Travel blogger Margherita Ragg sent us a postcard to share her feelings about this experience!
"When I first read that the DestiMED PLUS Test I would be joining was going to be in the Ponziane Archipelago, I immediately thought of Ponza, the largest island. Despite being Italian, I barely knew anything about Ventotene, the tiny island where we would spend 5 days as part of the test. Ventotene is only about 3 km long and 800 meters wide - so my first thought was that we might get bored spending such a long time there!
Guess what? We never got bored. Ventotene may be tiny, but it packs in a true variety of sights and activities, enough to please all kinds of travellers. Are you into classical history? You can visit the remains of Villa Julia, where 5 Roman women were exiled. Do you prefer modern history? Join a walking tour to learn about the Ventotene Manifesto, believed to be one of the first documents to bring forward the idea of a united Europe. Are you a bird lover? You'll be pleased to know that Ventotene is visited by hundreds of migratory bird species, and there is a museum dedicated to bird migration! Would you like to go diving or snorkeling? Ventotene is part of a protected marine reserve, so you can be sure there's plenty to see underwater!
Visiting Ventotene in May was also truly special. The tourist season hadn't yet kicked off, the weather was pleasant, and the atmosphere was relaxed. We stayed at Le Parracine, a B&B named after the dry stone walls found on the island, with a stunning view over nearby Santo Stefano Island. Before breakfast, every morning I walked down Cala Nave, the island's most beautiful beach, for a swim. Then, we all sat and had breakfast together - a selection of homemade cakes, jams and fruit salad, all made in house.
The highlight of my trip was exploring nature in Ventotene - both marine and terrestrial. Every swim was an opportunity to spot new marine species, and even a quick walk around the island provided opportunities for birdwatching, with species I didn't know like the golden oriole and bee eater frequently spotted. Our guides Valerio and Andrea were true birdwatching ninjas, and they just needed to get a glimpse of a bird to correctly identify the species.
Another magical experience was listening to the call of shearwaters at night, a sound so mysterious and magnetic that I wasn't surprised it was believed by Ulysses and his men to be the call of the Sirens. Or so the legend goes. In any case, it's not hard to be bewitched by Ventotene - I definitely was!"
Ventotene and Santo Stefano Marine Protected Area