Coming Home to Ventotene
Returning to the tiny island of Ventotene – off the coast, just south of Rome – is always a bit like coming home. I feel it as soon as we stepped off the hydrofoil at Ventotene’s port yesterday evening. Pino just ahead of me, pulling our small suitcase,
At the port in veiled evening light, anchored boats rocked, the tiny island of Santo Stefano (once a prison) rising out of the sea off in the distance.
First stop? Our favorite, Ristorante Da Verde, for dinner. Pino started with steamed mussels, naturalmente, while I experimented a new antipasto, smoked swordfish in a tasty island apricot sauce, sprinkled with poppy seeds. On to grilled seafood for Pino – and a “black” pasta dish for me: string-thin taglierini in a sauce of swordfish, baby tomatoes, eggplants, basil – and cuttlefish ink.
Lunch here today before heading to the sea. Young owner, Francesca, greeted Pino with the good news that the TV inside would show the Motorcycle Gran Premio at 2 pm: better than any dessert for Pino. Antipasto today: for Pino, smoked swordfish marinated in citrus fruits with arugula pesto and for me, a delicate codfish/mozzarella flan. Hesitant about my choice but….. mmmmmmmmm!
Surrounded by vacationing families at all the outdoor tables, I enjoyed my seafood/zucchiini pasta and brought Pino’s mixed grill (island endive with pinenuts, raisins as a side dish) into the bar: knew it would be cold by the time he detached from Gran Premio TV coverage. (Valentino Rossi disappointed today but the Ducati victories was some consolation).
Francesca brought us refreshing sorbetti di limone. Espressi, next…
Tables filled up, tables emptied and we sat and read for hours. Fabio’s bookshop, Ultima Spiaggia, flanks Ristorante Da Verde and we’ll head there when reading material runs out.
Across the square, the twenty-eight flags of the European Community flutter gently before the crenellated ochre city hall; after all, here on Ventotene the European Union was born. Set out while imprisoned by the Fascist regime, Alfiero Spinelli’s Manifesto di Ventotene (1941- 1944), proposec a Federalist union for the European countries in order to restore peace on the Continent.
And on August 22nd, Prime Minister Matteo Renzi meets here on Ventotene with Angela Merkel and François Holland to discuss European union critical issues: Brexit consequences, immigration explosion, terrorism threats and Turkey’s current foment.
We hear we won’t see any of the leaders. They’ll stop at Spinelli’s tomb to pay tribute at the cemetery – and then fly in helicopters to the smaller island of Santo Stefano for their meeting. We hear the island will be under high security.
But vacationers stretched out under umbrellas or diving off the rocky coast will probably never note security personnel in their midst…
Even on August 22nd, Ventotene will still feel “like home” at the seaside.
Read more on Santo Stefano and on Ventotene and why we love it
Click here for more on Fabio’s bookstore
Read about another favorite Ventotene eating spot
Read about the island bakery
Read why Ventotene captivates
Read about Ventotene’s many enticements
See the kaleidoscopic colors of Ventotene
Read about – and see! – pizza goodness (and not only) on Ventotene
Read about Ventotene’s bakery
Read about the European summit on the island of Ventotene, Aug. 22, 2016
Read about good eating at the “scooter truck”
Read about “palate poetry” on Ventotene