favignana cala rossa

AEGADIAN ISLANDS

Rugged and wild nature, clear and uncontaminated sea, ancient traditions, linked to a glorious past, the Aegadian Islands, seat of the largest marine protected area in Europe, in the center of the Mediterranean Sea, are a corner of paradise that retains its charm all the days of the year, but it is from spring to late September that they become a popular destination for many sea lovers.

For these aspects, as well as for the generous hospitality of its inhabitants and for the excellent local cuisine, the Aegadian Islands deserve much more than a visit.

FAVIGNANA ISLAND

Favignana, the largest of the Egadi islands, is also known as “the butterfly on the sea”, due to its peculiar morphology. The body, which consists of the mountain ridge on which the Castle of Santa Caterina stands, divides the two flat wings. It is an earthly paradise where sky and sea merge into an extraordinary horizon.

The island, queen of the traps, today offers cultural attractions, which testify to a glorious past. A guided tour of the former Florio factory is a must, to discover the traditional fishing (slaughter) and processing of tuna, whose history blends with that of the Florio family. The factory, now a museum, also houses finds from various historical periods, such as those dating back to the battle of the Egadi Islands, found in the depths of the archipelago.

Palazzo Florio, which was the art nouveau home of the illustrious family, is also open to the public.

There are numerous sites of archaeological interest. Among the most important, concentrated in the area of San Nicola, the “women’s bath”, a nymphaeum from the Roman era, and the remains of a fish and garum production plant.

Since ancient times, the eastern wing was the site of quarring, which represented an important economic source. Sandstone limestone, commonly known as “tuff”, was extracted and used in construction. What is left of the extraction now contributes to define the identity of the island. The “pirriaturi”, skilled masters of extraction, shaped the earth, created open-air quarries and tunnels and even underground passages. In Scalo Cavallo, Cala Rossa and Bue Marino there are the most majestic caves, real works of art that, in some cases, look like imposing cathedrals on the sea. 

In Favignana it is possible to access by land most of the coves and beaches and this is a rarity for the Mediterranean islands. The Favignanese sea meets everyone’s needs, being able to choose between sandy coasts, rocky coasts, rocks and islets reachable by sea, submerged and semi-submerged caves. To this variety of habitats there is just as much biodiversity.

There are beaches with fine and golden sand such as Cala Azzurra, Lido Burrone, and Calamoni; pebble beaches such as in Punta Lunga, Cala Pirreca, Cala Trapanese and Punta Sottile, from which you can enjoy a sunset of rare beauty. The most evocative of all is Cala Rossa, a natural setting that has no equal, rocky shoreline and crystal clear water. Among the most rocky, Grotta Perciata, Punta Fanfalo and Scalo Cavallo. Visits to the sea caves are essential, such as the Grotta dei Sospiri and the Grotta degli Innamorati, reachable by boat, preferably accompanied by local fishermen. There are numerous areas where you can practice snorkeling. For diving lovers, the sites of Secca del Toro, Galeotta and Scoglio Corrente are interesting.

The town consists of two main squares, connected to each other by a street. Here you can taste traditional dishes, based on tuna, fresh fish and local products, and confectionary delicacies.

The island can be visited both by land and by sea.

By land: cars, scooters, bicycles are the alternatives. The most recommended options are the last two: in a short time and easily, you can reach all the coves, even the most isolated ones.

We also recommend a boat trip to get to know the island from another point of view.

It is from Favignana that the extraordinary journey to discover the Egadi begins.

LEVANZO ISLAND

Levanzo, the smallest and least worldly of the Egadi Islands, is the island where time seems to stand still. A paradise immersed in clear and brilliant waters, where the few dozen inhabitants live in harmony with the landscape and nature marks the days.

Upon arrival, you will find yourself in front of a village of white houses overlooking a mirror of turquoise water, on which the small port of Cala Dogana stands, populated by the resting boats of local fishermen.

The island should be explored on foot or by sea. There are several paths: from the port those leading to Cala Minnola, the Florio Houses and the Genoese Cave branch off; another crosses the island until it reaches the Capo Grosso lighthouse; yet another leads to the Faraglione, through a path particularly rich in Mediterranean scrub. The coast is indented and there are no sandy beaches. However, there is no shortage of coves and pebble beaches, not all of which are easily accessible by land. For this reason, it is advisable to explore the island by sea.

Levanzo is characterized by white limestone rocks and numerous caves. Particularly suggestive and of great archaeological interest, the Genoese Cave is definitely worth a visit. It houses a complex of wall figures, paintings and graffiti, dating back to the Paleolithic and Neolithic times. This complex of its kind is the most interesting on the national scene and one of the most relevant internationally.

The Levanzo seabeds are also worthy of mention. In the stretch of water in front of Cala Minnola, a guided underwater itinerary allows you to closely observe the wreck of a Roman cargo ship, sunk with a load of wine amphorae, of which fragments remain.

At the end of the experience on the island, all the senses will be satisfied and the memory of the trip will remain indelible.

MARETTIMO ISLAND

Marettimo, the most “island” of the Egadi archipelago, is also the wildest and most unspoiled, it is the “Eden” of the Mediterranean with an enormous natural heritage characterized by the turquoise colors of its crystal clear waters, surrounded by beautiful caves and pretty coves.

Below the water line, wonderful seabeds offer one of the richest diving experiences in the whole Mediterranean.

Attached to the port and close to an imposing mountain formation is the inhabited center characterized by small white Arab-style houses and narrow streets.

The emblem of the island is Punta Troia, a suggestive promontory on which numerous legends hover and in which there is a Bourbon fortress once used as a prison. Just above the town you can see traces of the Roman passage on the island and also a small church from the Norman era.

The island is characterised by many caves, the best known are the emerged ones, but just as interesting are those under the water line, there are over three hundred:

  • Grotta del Cammello, takes its name from a rock that has the shape of a large camel, inside the sea is blue, limpid and crystalline, at noon, the sun penetrates through the circular opening of the vault, creating reflections and games of light.
  • Grotta del Tuono, when the weather is bad and the waves break with force on the coast, its domed vault resounds resembling thunder, it is characterized by an intense and splendid blue seabed.
  • Grotta della Pipa, on the north side of the island near the master port, takes its name from the particular shape of the rock.
  • Perciata cave, rich in stalactites, stalagmites and limestone deposits, the seabed is crystalline and partly sandy.
  • Grotta della Ficaredda, the elders Marettimari testify that the Ficara cave takes its name from the fig tree that once grew on the top.
  • Grotta del Presepe, inside its rocky conformations, stalactites, stalagmites and limestone deposits, form figures that recall the characters of the nativity.
  • Grotta della Bombarda, when there is undertow a mixture of air and water is blown inside at high pressure, generating a roar similar to a bomb.

Great is the vocation and tradition towards fishing activities, the people of the island over time have refined the art of fishing by expanding their activities in Portugal, California and today, through salmon fishing, even in the icy waters of the Alaska, in Marettimo, the “Museum of the Sea, of Marine Activities and Traditions and of Emigration”, preserves these memories.

The island returns all its beauty by exploring it little by little using a small boat and the company of local people.

FORMICA AND MARAONE ISLANDS

Little more than two rocks in the middle of the sea, more or less halfway through, en route between Trapani and Favignana.

Maraone: it is the smallest of the Egadi Islands, inhabited only by seagulls, it is an integral reserve of absolute respect where fishing, bathing, navigation and anchoring are not allowed, here only activities for scientific purposes can be carried out with the authorization of the competent authority.

Formica: the legend wants to derive its name from an invasion of ants due to a particular viscous plant which is rich in its coasts, it is the fourth largest island of the Egadi Islands. Here many ancient communities have found refuge, inhabited by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Arabs and finally, by the Florio family, equipped with a trap, second only to that of Favignana.

Here the silence, the nature, the visceral contact with the sea and the magic of the place make it the ideal place to recover contact with one’s humanity.

On the island there is a fortified tower and a regularly functioning lighthouse, a small church “of the Rais” and a small museum, the view is beautiful wherever the eye looks.

The island has undergone a masterful restoration, is cared for and maintained by the guys from “Mondo X”, the therapeutic community that owns it.

Formica Island – Aegadian archipelago

Formica Island – Aegadian archipelago

Formica Island – Aegadian archipelago