Ventotene, in Roman times known as Pandataria or Pandateria from the Greek Pandoteira, is one of the Pontine Islands
Pontine Islands
The Pontine Islands are an archipelago in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy. The islands were collectively named after the largest island in the group, Ponza. The other islands in the archipelago are Palmarola, Zannone,...

 in the Tyrrhenian Sea
Tyrrhenian Sea
The Tyrrhenian Sea is part of the Mediterranean Sea off the western coast of Italy.-Geography:The sea is bounded by Corsica and Sardinia , Tuscany, Lazio, Campania, Basilicata and Calabria and Sicily ....

, 25 nautical miles (46.3 km) off the coast of Gaeta
Gaeta is a city and comune in the province of Latina, in Lazio, central Italy. Set on a promontory stretching towards the Gulf of Gaeta, it is 120 km from Rome and 80 km from Naples....

 right at the border between Lazio and Campania
Campania is a region in southern Italy. The region has a population of around 5.8 million people, making it the second-most-populous region of Italy; its total area of 13,590 km² makes it the most densely populated region in the country...

, Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

. The municipality of Ventotene, of the province of Latina
Province of Latina
The Province of Latina is a province in the Lazio region of Italy. Its capital is the city of Latina.It has an area of 2,251 km², and a total population of 519,850...

 (Lazio) has 708 permanent residents as of 2008.

The island, the remains of an ancient volcano, is elongated, with a length of 3 kilometres and a maximum width of about 800 metres.

The municipality includes the small ancillary island of Santo Stefano
Santo Stefano Island
Santo Stefano is an island in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the west coast of Italy, and part of the Pontine Islands. It has a circular shape, is less than 400 metres in diameter, and is located 2 kilometres east from the nearby island of Ventotene....

, located 2 kilometres to the east, which is the site of a massive prison, now closed. A further island, Ponza
Ponza is the largest of the Italian Pontine Islands archipelago, located 33 km south of Cape Circeo in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It also the name of the commune of the island, a part of the province of Latina in the Lazio region....

, is 40 kilometres to the west.

The island is connected by ferry and hydrofoil service to Formia
Formia is a city and comune in the province of Latina, on the Mediterranean coast of Lazio . It is located halfway between Rome and Naples, and lies on the Roman-era Appian Way.-History:...

 and Anzio
Anzio is a city and comune on the coast of the Lazio region of Italy, about south of Rome.Well known for its seaside harbour setting, it is a fishing port and a departure point for ferries and hydroplanes to the Pontine Islands of Ponza, Palmarola and Ventotene...

; this is supplemented by summer services from and to Ischia
Ischia is a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea. It lies at the northern end of the Gulf of Naples, about 30 km from the city of Naples. It is the largest of the Phlegrean Islands. Roughly trapezoidal in shape, it measures around 10 km east to west and 7 km north to south and has...



Pandataria is best known as the island to which the emperor Augustus
Augustus ;23 September 63 BC – 19 August AD 14) is considered the first emperor of the Roman Empire, which he ruled alone from 27 BC until his death in 14 AD.The dates of his rule are contemporary dates; Augustus lived under two calendars, the Roman Republican until 45 BC, and the Julian...

 banished his daughter Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder
Julia the Elder , known to her contemporaries as Julia Caesaris filia or Julia Augusti filia was the daughter and only biological child of Augustus, the first emperor of the Roman Empire. Augustus subsequently adopted several male members of his close family as sons...

 in 2 BC, as reaction to her excessive adultery, where she was to spend five years, and to which Tiberius
Tiberius , was Roman Emperor from 14 AD to 37 AD. Tiberius was by birth a Claudian, son of Tiberius Claudius Nero and Livia Drusilla. His mother divorced Nero and married Augustus in 39 BC, making him a step-son of Octavian...

 banished his grandniece Agrippina the Elder
Agrippina the elder
Vipsania Agrippina or most commonly known as Agrippina Major or Agrippina the Elder was a distinguished and prominent granddaughter of the Emperor Augustus. Agrippina was the wife of the general, statesman Germanicus and a relative to the first Roman Emperors...

 in 29 AD. She perished, probably of malnutrition, on October 18, 33 AD. After Agrippina's son Gaius (better known as Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

) became emperor in 37 AD, he went to Pandataria to collect her remains and reverently brought them back to Rome. Agrippina's youngest daughter, Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla
Julia Livilla was the youngest child of Germanicus and Agrippina the Elder and the youngest sister of the Emperor Caligula.-Life:Livilla was the youngest great granddaughter of Emperor Augustus, great-niece and adoptive granddaughter...

 was also exiled to Pandateria twice: the first time by her brother Caligula
Caligula , also known as Gaius, was Roman Emperor from 37 AD to 41 AD. Caligula was a member of the house of rulers conventionally known as the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Caligula's father Germanicus, the nephew and adopted son of Emperor Tiberius, was a very successful general and one of Rome's most...

 for plotting to depose him and the next time by her uncle, the emperor Claudius
Claudius , was Roman Emperor from 41 to 54. A member of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, he was the son of Drusus and Antonia Minor. He was born at Lugdunum in Gaul and was the first Roman Emperor to be born outside Italy...

, at the instigation of his wife, Messalina
Valeria Messalina, sometimes spelled Messallina, was a Roman empress as the third wife of the Emperor Claudius. She was also a paternal cousin of the Emperor Nero, second cousin of the Emperor Caligula, and great-grandniece of the Emperor Augustus...

, in 41 AD. Sometime later, she was discreetly starved to death there and her remains were probably brought back to Rome when her sister Agrippina the Younger
Agrippina the Younger
Julia Agrippina, most commonly referred to as Agrippina Minor or Agrippina the Younger, and after 50 known as Julia Augusta Agrippina was a Roman Empress and one of the more prominent women in the Julio-Claudian dynasty...

 became influential as the emperor's wife. Another distinguished lady of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia
Claudia Octavia was an Empress of Rome. She was a great-niece of the Emperor Tiberius, paternal first cousin of the Emperor Caligula, daughter of the Emperor Claudius, and stepsister and first wife of the Emperor Nero...

, who was the first wife of the emperor Nero
Nero , was Roman Emperor from 54 to 68, and the last in the Julio-Claudian dynasty. Nero was adopted by his great-uncle Claudius to become his heir and successor, and succeeded to the throne in 54 following Claudius' death....

, was banished to Pandateria in 62 AD and executed on the orders of her husband.

This is also the island to which St. Flavia Domitilla, for whom the eponymous catacombs in Rome are named and who hid many saints (or recovered their remains when they were martyred), was banished. She was the granddaughter of Emperor Vespasian. She may have died there.

A prison camp was created under the Bourbons and restructured under Benito Mussolini
Benito Mussolini
Benito Amilcare Andrea Mussolini was an Italian politician who led the National Fascist Party and is credited with being one of the key figures in the creation of Fascism....

 on the island of Santo Stefano, where up to 700 opponents, including 400 communists, were incarcerated between 1939 and 1943. One of them was Altiero Spinelli
Altiero Spinelli
Altiero Spinelli was an Italian political theorist and a European federalist. Spinelli is referred to as one of the "Founding Fathers of the European Union" due to his co-authorship of the Ventotene Manifesto, his founding role in the European federalist movement, his strong influence on the first...

 who wrote there a text now known as the "Ventotene Manifesto
Ventotene Manifesto
The Ventotene Manifesto is a political statement written by Altiero Spinelli and by Ernesto Rossi while they were prisoners on the Italian island of Ventotene during World War II. Completed in June 1941, the Manifesto was circulated within the Italian Resistance, and it soon became the programme...

", promoting the idea of a federal Europe after the war.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the island also served as home to a 114 man German
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 garrison that defended a key radar station. On the night of September 8, 1943, an American PT boat
PT boat
PT Boats were a variety of motor torpedo boat , a small, fast vessel used by the United States Navy in World War II to attack larger surface ships. The PT boat squadrons were nicknamed "the mosquito fleet". The Japanese called them "Devil Boats".The original pre–World War I torpedo boats were...

 silently slipped into Ventotene's harbor and offloaded 46 American paratroopers from the 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion. The paratroopers quickly met with a local exile from the Italian mainland who then lied to the German commander that there was a regiment of paratroopers on the island, deposited by a fleet of Allied
Allies of World War II
The Allies of World War II were the countries that opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War . Former Axis states contributing to the Allied victory are not considered Allied states...

 ships. Terrified, the German commander demolished his own positions and weapons, and then surrendered to the weaker American force before realizing his mistake. Ventotene was liberated at 3 AM without a shot being fired.

Main sights

The port has kept some tuff
Tuff is a type of rock consisting of consolidated volcanic ash ejected from vents during a volcanic eruption. Tuff is sometimes called tufa, particularly when used as construction material, although tufa also refers to a quite different rock. Rock that contains greater than 50% tuff is considered...

 structures of the ancient Roman structure; on the island are also remains of villas and the extensive rainwater catchment system of channels and cisterns hewn from the bedrock, for the island has no natural springs of fresh water, which today is shipped in by tanker..

In July 2009, archaeologists announced the discovery of a "graveyard" of five ancient Roman ships in the deep waters off Ventotene, with their pristine cargoes of olive oil, garum
Garum, similar to liquamen, was a type of fermented fish sauce condiment that was an essential flavour in Ancient Roman cooking, the supreme condiment....

and metal ingots. Some of the recovered objects were immediately placed on view at Ventotene.

External links

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