Allegedly named after Pontius Pilate (although this is now disputed) Ponza was first colonized by the Etruscans. In Roman times it was used as a place to deport, and usually put to death, those who fell foul of Rome's authorities. In the Middle Ages it could not be protected against raids by Saracens and pirates and was abandoned. It was re-occupied in the 18th Century. The island is a popular tourist spot for Italian holidaymakers in the summer, although some of the popular beaches have been closed because of falling rocks that have in the past killed sunbathers. In the Italian Fascist era Ponza served as a penal colony. Ironically, Mussolini was himself held on Ponza for a few weeks after his arrest in 1943.
Ponza is a popular location for filmmakers. Perhaps the most famous was Federico Fellini's Satyricon, filmed in 1969.
From Rome, Ponza can be reached by train or car to Formia followed by a two-hour ferry . There are frequent trains from Rome's Termini station. There are also ferries from Anzio. From Naples there are also ferries and hydrofoils, but only in the summer .