The hidden island of Pantelleria
I just can't get the island off my mind. You know we are closer to Africa than Italy? The hidden island of Pantelleria is located 62 miles southwest of Sicily and some 40 miles from Tunisia. The rough, windswept landscape with its jagged lava cliffs, is filled with ancient ruins and historic stone dwellings known as dammusi.
You get the feeling you are somewhere lost in remote Africa, rather than on one of the most unique Italian islands. Like everything Pantelleria select the tourists, too.
If you like the natural landscape as I do - the wind, the wild idea of the Mediterranean - nowhere else is like this !
Human beings have learned to impose their rules and rhythms on everything around them, and yet nature inescapably always sets the tone. Pantelleria offers blatant examples of this: some of the most unique landscapes you could think of reside here, the strong winds shaping its growth and man learning to adapt to it. The unique Pantelleria gardens are built in such a way as to protect citrus fruits from strong gusts, granting them the most suitable microclimate; grapes are weighted down to create a low profile and are protected from Aeolos’ fury. Wine tourism beats strong on the island, and a sip of the exquisite Grenache, Zibibbo and Passito wines are all it takes to fall in love with intense tastes. You will find several wine estates, such as the fabulous Coste Ghirlanda Laboratory: sip wine immersed in the silence of the Pantelleria nights for a moment to treasure.
The heavily nutrient rich soil found on the island helps the farmland flourish and the local delicacies are hard to beat. This is Italy with an African twist: think larger-than-life sunsets, idyllic colours, bluer-than-blue waters and a natural spa at your disposal. Foodies are in their elements here: the local capers are to die for and famous the world over, as are the Baci Panteschi, ricotta-filled sweets, whose taste you will dream of for long after you have tried them. Pantelleria cous-cous and salads also brim with unique flavours: cous-cous is found all over Sicily, but its taste is stronger here. Many hours of preparation for an unforgettable fish-based dish with fried vegetables. The typical local salad is made with boiled potatoes, local capers, raw onions, fresh tomatoes and dried fish. Seasoned with oregano and oil, it is simply sublime. Pantelleria will seduce you with its sophisticated atmosphere, dramatic light and imposing, welcoming silence: let’s discover the magic.
Picture a blue lake set on a volcano pit, natural hot springs and mud baths bubbling from below the surface. This is Venus Lake -Lago Specchio di Venere - and you are about to fall in love with it. Legend has it that Venus used to mirror herself here before meeting Bacchus; now you can have your spa fix undisturbed and at your own leisure. How about spreading some mud on your skin, waiting for it to dry and then rinse it off with thermal water? Too good to be true? Seeing is believing. A National Park since 2016, this small island is replete with natural and historical wonders: visit the newly established Archaeological Park for a step into the past that evokes distant cultures and a crossroad of ancient cultures.
The sweeping natural Arco dell’Elefante echoes the shape of an elephant: head for the twin coves of Cala Tramontana and Cala Levante first, then marvel at this natural beauty. If swimming is your credo, do not miss Balata dei Turchi: idyllic with sparkling blue-green waters, this jewel will ask for a brave, 3-km descent on a steep, unpaved road: the reward is simply stunning. Montagna Grande – Big Mountain speaks for itself: 836 m of hiking opportunities, amid sweeping vistas, Mediterranean scents and colours.
Think of an adventure and you will find it here. From diving to horse riding, cycling to hiking, boat tours to kayaking, not to mention visiting the Gelfiser volcano or the Favare, the steam jets typical of the island. It’s an embarrassment of riches: this is a small island with a timeless, hidden, unique and intense heart, yours to discover
Bent-el-Riah - daughter of the wind. Pantelleria is a fusion of the exotic and the remote, its landscape as unique as its sunsets, its multi-faceted culinary options and world-renowned wines. Closer to Northern Africa than the homeland Sicily, this volcanic island combines unexpected agricultural and wine-growing traditions worthy of a UNESCO seal. Dwarf grapevines, low-slung caper bushes, olive trees laid out on terraces and then mud baths, steaming fumaroles, crystal-clear waters and sensational cliffs.
Timeless and intense, here the landscape hides tales of a distant past, with local dammusi, the typical domed stone houses with whitewashed walls and cisterns for collecting rain water, adding a unique touch for a striking experience.
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