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    • Day 421


      September 5, 2022 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      Ventotene is a gorgeous little island, 25 miles north of Ischia and is part of the Pontine archipelago. The town which rises up from the port is full of pretty yellow and pink buildings.
      The island is steeped in Roman history, starting in the little port we are tied up in. Several of the quay walls, the store rooms (which are now shops) and and some of the bollards have been in use for over 2000 years.
      Emperor Augustus developed the island during his reign between 31 B.C. and 14 A.D. He built a massive summer home here even though there was no natural harbour and no fresh water. These difficulties were nothing to a Roman Emperor who had an endless supply of slaves to build and dig for him.
      Inland he had a number of large cisterns built to collect and store rainwater. The Port was entirely dug out of rock. 60,000 cubic metres of tufa rock was excavated and removed to create a safe harbour for his ships to dock. That is about 6,000 lorry loads if it were to be excavated today, its hard to believe they did it 2 millennia ago.
      Roman ingenuity and ambitious didn’t stop at the port, the slaves continued digging and made the peschiera nearby.
      We put our masks and snorkels on and jump into the sea to explore some of the channels and pools of the fish farm that were dug into the rocky shore. The sea levels have risen over a meter since the peschiera was built so much of it is under water. It is crazy to think such complex systems were installed just so that the Emperor could have his choice of fish whenever he wanted.
      We walk out to see the ruined remains of his holiday home. There is little left on the headland except for the enormous footprint of its foundations. It is called Villa Giulia, named after his daughter whom he exiled here because of her excessive adultery. What a beautiful place to be banished to.
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    • Day 100


      July 2, 2019 in Italy ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

      From Procida we decided to stay offshore and so to Ventotene, there appeared to be an anchoring option that was outside the Marine Park prohibited zone. Pleased we did it’s a lovely island, probably only slightly larger than Herm but more houses. In the old harbour there are now bars and other businesses in the caves the Romans had cut out of the rock. Both Ventotene and San Stefano, the offlying island were penal colonies. San Stefano still has the round prison building. Here we also saw our first Guernsey ensign on another boat, see window shot. Walking around the island we saw a beautiful church lots of cats that obviously I fed and a mini digger, look at size of seat back to get scale.Meal we ate ashore was a disappointment felt reheated and from packet but you can’t win them all and the view of the old harbour was stunning.Read more

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