The local paper was breathless with excitement: “Rihanna, sirena sexy, a Ponza!” it shrieked. And me too! I was in Ponza as well! Though 24 hours ago I hadn’t even known the place existed. (Mind you, I am pretty shaky on the exact status of Rihanna.)
The Pontine islands are a dragon-backed scattering of humps sticking up out of the sea south of Rome, where those in the know (which means knowing that they exist) take cool weekend breaks – including, so I was told, Beyoncé and Jay Z. And now, of course, Rihanna – “sirena sexy”. Given that the main island was, according to the New York Times, “a real treat for geologists”, this was a new insight into the leisure requirements of some of our more celebrated recording stars.
This five-and-a-half-mile-long stripe of tortured rock is generally accepted to have been the summer home not of the Sirens but of the witch Circe (who, in Greek mythology, ensnared Odysseus for a bit). It looked like it would suit mountain climbers more than pop artists. The main harbour town clings to a perilously high cliff rising around a bay. At first it feels more Greek than Italian. Its vertiginous paths rival Santorini. I have never peered over a wall to see a back garden quite so very far below me. Take strong Welsh legs if you can. Prepare to abseil back to the port from your boutique hotel if you must. But be ready to clamber. Read more