The two islands in the Marine Protected Area are sparsely covered in low, bushy Mediterranean shrubs like broom, euphorbia, myrtle and mastic trees– and plants that only grow in this area like the “limonio di Ventotene” (Limonium multiforme), the “limonio di Santo Stefano” (Limonium sancti-stephani) and the “centaurea di Ventotene” (Centaurea cineraria). The underwater seascape is especially varied. Rocky walls have many tunnels and caves where colourful sponges, violescent sea-whip and pillow coral (Astroides calycularis) grow in bright yellow and orange colonies. Around the islands there is a narrow meadow of Posidonia that grows to 40m deep thanks to the crystal clear waters. Here it’s easy to spot and to get near to groupers, octopus and moray eels and often you can spot cetaceans like sperm and fin whales and dolphins and even loggerhead sea turtles. The best diving spots are “Le Sconchiglie”, “Molo IV”, “La Secca dell’Archetto” and the wreck of the “Santa Lucia”. The Roman fishing boat that is visible with just a mask and fins is of great archaeological interest and you can also take fishing tours with local fishermen.

Marine Protected Area

Located in the Arcipelago Pontino, of the Lazio-side coast of the Circeo promontory, the Marine Protected Area includes the volcanic islands of Ventotene and Santo Stefano but not Ponza, Palmarola and Zannone. The latter of these islands is part of the Parco Nazionale del Circeo.Founded in 1997, the Marine Protected Area covers an area of 2.799 hectares, of which about 410 are in a zone A integral reserve. Ventotene is a nature preserve on land too because the islands are an important habitat and resting ground for migratory birds. The zone A integral reserve of the Marine Protected Area is signalled by yellow delimitation buoys and by yellow top marks on the shore.

Useful Contacts

Comune di Ventotene (Ente gestore)
piazza Castello, 1 – 04020 Ventotene
tel. 0771/85014
Centro visite
via Rampe marine, 3 – 04020 Ventotene
tel. 0771/85324
Capitaneria di Porto di Gaeta
tel. 0771/460100

By Boat

Long and flat, the Ventotene island is shaped a bit like a whale. It isn’t dangerous to sail around it except in the area called le Sconciglie, a group of rocky outcrops and sand bars between Punta Eolo and Cala Parata Grande.

Navigation within 500m from shore is prohibited all along the western and southern coasts from Punta Eolo to Punta Olivi. Along the north-eastern coast you may drop anchor at Cala Nave. Porto Nuovo (Cala Rossano) is better protected now that the breakwaters have been lengthened, but can still be rough in strong Mistral and northerly winds. A large wave can form at the entrance to the port in strong E-NE winds. Just a bit further south you’ll find Porto Romano, a jewel of ancient Roman architecture that was entire carved out of tufa stone. This port is well protected, but winds from the first and second quadrants can make entering difficult. Along the southern coast for about a mile the area off the island of Santo Stefano is a zone A integral reserve. It is interesting to visit the prison from the days of the House of Bourbon. Between Ventotene and Ponza you’ll find the Scoglio La Botte: this outcrop is not signalled with lights and its seabed is rich in marine life.