For me, this semester has been a lot of things: incredible, adventuresome, exciting, and pretty much every other positive thing you could think of. The one thing I would not describe it as is relaxing. Between school work, exploring Rome, and traveling to other parts of Italy and Europe, I have barely had time to myself. That is why the trip that a professor organized for this past weekend to Ponza was so incredible; it was all about relaxation.
Ponza is a tiny island located 3 hours south of Rome (an hour train ride to the coast followed by a 2 hour ferry ride). The island was formed by a volcano and juts straight up out of the water. As the ferry approaches the shore you can see the terraces carved in the sides of the mountains that allow for farming. The brightly colored houses are scattered across the mountain as well splattering it with bright purples, blues, yellows, and pinks. Add the crystal clear water of the Mediterranean Sea as a backdrop and you have one breathtaking sight.
The 3 days spent in Ponza were fantastic. To start it off, on our ferry ride to the island we spotted at least 5 dolphins jumping along the side of the boat; talk about magical. Everyone on the island was incredibly kind from the bus driver to the landlord of the apartments we stayed in. After we got settled in, our itinerary was filled with eating fantastic food, doing yoga, and taking naps on the beach, aka perfection.
Our first night, the 15 of us on the trip got a four course meal at our professor’s favorite restaurant on the island. Every course, with the exception of dessert, included fresh seafood that the owner had caught that same morning. Octopus, anchovies, squid, white bass, bluefish, swordfish, and tuna… it was unbelievable.
The next day, a few of us got up earlier to do yoga (led by our professor) on the terrace of the apartments that was directly over the sea. Since we had the day free to do whatever we wanted, I opted to hike to a statue of the Madonna on the top of a cliff that overlooked the island. It was the best location for a picnic I have gone to yet.
In the evening, our group worked together to cook ourselves yet another 4 course meal. Bruschetta followed by pasta, lentils and roasted red peppers followed by baked fish and finished off with tiramisu (all homemade!). We made far too much food and still had leftovers even after eating more for breakfast the following morning.
There are lots of exciting places to see in Rome, Italy and Europe. But traveling can be exhausting. That is what makes places like Ponza so great, you can get to see a truly beautiful place, learn about a more laid back Mediterranean culture, and simply relax.