The artist also recommends visiting other regions on the island, engaging with the traditional atmosphere of its smaller towns. “If you want to experience Italy as it was in the 1950s and ’60s, you have to go to Le Forna,” he says of the area at the island’s northern tip. Here he suggests Ristorante Punta Incenso, or Da Igino—“the absolute top, with fish served roasted or salt-baked that comes directly from the fishermen working in the Cala Fonte bay there.” Di Fabio always stops to appreciate the view of the fishermen’s old wooden boats sheltered by the dramatic rocks curving around the cove. Nearby, he likes to swim at the Cala Gaetano, a crystalline inlet with a rocky shore surrounded by prickly pears and blackberry brambles. It can be reached only by the ambitious—the steep climb counts over three hundred stairs—but it keeps the beach uncrowded. At one of the few sandy beaches on the island, Cala Feola, the Ristorante La Marina is unmissable, as are the natural pools that have formed along the shoreline. Di Fabio also makes the journey to Bar Zanzibar to enjoy a drink by the pebble beach of Santa Maria, encircled by the town’s colorful houses.
At Frontone, a sandy cove surrounded by small verdant cliffs, Di Fabio likes to dine and stargaze at Da Enzo, where tables are set out on the rocks by the water—the owner transports guests to their table in a rowboat. In the daytime, the nearby Ristoro da Gerardo serves its homey dishes in a more rural setting, “a paradise on the hillside with chickens and goats wandering around you,” as the artist describes it. The owner has even set up a self-made ethnographic museum in one room, laying out the antique tools and folk art of life in old Ponza, with the scythes and fishing nets they’ve used to collect their food and models of the boats they’ve used to sail around these remote waters—all glimpses of an analog time that feels much closer on Ponza’s ancient shores.