Marina has shared with us an enchanting story about her love for and connection to one of Southern Italy's most beautiful secrets. Here then is Marina's tale and photos as well:
In the Tyrrhenian Sea, not far from Monte Circeo, is Italy's unknown island of love called Ponza. This beautiful island, 5.5 miles long and 1.5 miles wide, has such beauty that once you visit, you must return. By the way, if you don't know where it is, there's a map at the bottom of the page. On with the story...
I was born in America and went to school here, but my parents took us to Ponza, where they were born, to introduce this beautiful island to me and my brother. My father said it was important to know our heritage.
I was nine the first time we went to Ponza. It was the first time I saw the sea. My father worked in the industrial city of Detroit for Ford Motor, so up until we came to Ponza, the sea was just a word. I took to loving the sea; I learned how to swim and made childhood friends that would last a lifetime.
My parents had some old property where the sheep and chickens once were many, and they turned these into beautiful summer homes. It was in 1980 that they built two larger homes and two smaller apartments.
Every summer we went back, and I always loved it.
The beaches during the day, and exploring Palmarola Island, 40 minutes away by boat (it too is beautiful), the water was always crystal blue, where you could see your feet so clearly. I always had a tan.
Then, at the age of 21, here in America, I worked in our new family restaurant. But when summer came, even though we took separate vacations, I always came back to Ponza. I rented three of the apartments and kept one for myself.
I loved walking the port and shopping for fresh seafood and bread in the mornings. Of course, swimming in that beautiful sea and dancing the night away
It had become the island of love. Love of culture, food, and history.
This magnificent place grew in my heart as I grew up, and each summer I went back to my Ponza all through my 20s and 30s. My wonderful friends who once worked in restaurants and pizzerias in Ponza were now the owners.
Other friends owned hair salons, small boutiques, etc.; there were also friends that became school teachers and tour guides on their own boats, but when we reunited, it was wonderful!
Always a smile and a few moments to say hello, how are you? I've missed you. Summer doesn't seem like summer until you arrive. I miss my friends so much.
I met my wonderful husband in Ponza. The magic of Ponza is hypnotizing, and the sadness you feel in your heart when you get on that boat to leave and come back to reality is a deep sadness that sinks and hurts inside. I, however, was lucky to find a good husband in Ponza, who followed me back to America, and we married.
Not long after, my parents sold our family restaurant and retired. My mother lives in Ponza, and my brother moved to the west coast of the U.S., but his wife is from Ponza, so they visit my mother often.
As for me and my husband, we have a beautiful daughter, but when she was born, the C-section was performed too late, and my baby suffered the consequences. My life has changed completely. I am a full-time mother with very little time for myself.
I have dedicated my life to my daughter completely to give her a decent future, and it's been 7 years since I have been able to return to my beloved Ponza. When I communicate with friends and see the pictures of Ponza and my summer homes, part of me remembers happier times.
The taste of the salty sea water, the 250 steps from my home down to Cala Feola Beach, and the boat tours to nearby Palmarola Island
Ponza brings out the best in me. Even though my life has changed, I still have wonderful memories, and hopefully we will be able to go back soon to my Island of Love, Ponza. So if you ever get a chance to visit Ponza, please do; the summer months are gorgeous.
You'll need to catch a ferry from the mainland. It takes about 90 minutes and the companies operating on the route are Laziomar who sail from Terracina, (located between Rome and Naples), Formia (near Naples) and Anzio (40 miles/65 kilometres south of Rome).
The other company is Vetor who operate from Anzio