Ventotene gets its name from the prevailing winds that blow over the island (wind in Italian is vento). It now has over 700 permanent inhabitants but for many centuries it was unoccupied as it proved defenseless against pirates. Under the name of Pandateria it was used as a prison island by the ancient Romans. People banished there were often eventually murdered or starved to death. During the Second World War Mussolini used the nearby small island of Santo Stefano as a prison camp.
Ventotene gets very crowded in the school holiday period of mid-June to early-September and in late September for the festival of Saint Candida, the patron saint of the island.