Ventotene, Italy

Aurora surveyed these island in 2008, 2009 and 2010, locating five Roman shipwrecks in one week

Ventotene is a small island in the Tyrrhenian Sea, off the coast of Campania, Italy. The island is volcanic in origin and measures approximately 3 kilometers in length and under 1 kilometer wide. Santo Stefano, a small uninhabited island is just 1.5 kilometers off Ventotene and is best known for the large prison which dominates its landscape.

In the Roman period, Ventotene was known as Pandataria (or Pandateria) as was best known as a place of exile for defiant Roman women from the noble classes. Emperor Augustus exiled his wayward daughter Julia the Elder in 2 BC. One may still observe the remains of Julia’s opulent villa on the island. Also of interest are the massive water galleries excavated so as to supply the villa with fresh water. The island also has a fine example of a Roman fish tank complex.
One of the most extraordinary structures on the island is the ancient Roman harbor. Over 60,000 cubic meters of Tufa were cut so as to create this artificial port complex. The main basin would have been just over 3 meters deep and would have offered shelter to small and medium sized vessels in all weather conditions. The main activities of this probably included the supply of the villas’ occupants as well as a safe haven for vessels which found themselves in distress whilst sailing in the area. A series of warehouses, moles and bollards can still be seen today.