In the province of Agrigento there are real pearls, such as the island of Lampedusa. A concentrate of historical importance and naturalistic beauty, which deserves to be known in detail.
History of the Island of Lampedusa
For many years Lampedusa served as a transit place for certain populations, such as the Phoenicians, the Greeks, the Romans and the Arabs. The latter in particular had established a stable colony on the island, complete with a governor. It is the population that left the most evident mark on the island, together with the Romans who had set up a fish processing plant here.
In 1760 it was colonized by the French, while in the following years it was a succession of passages between small groups of farmers led by Maltese and English. It then played an important role during the Napoleonic wars, as it was designated – unsuccessfully – by Napoleon Bonaparte as a territory to be handed over to the British so that they could evacuate Malta.
Subsequently it experienced the era of domination by Ferdinand II of Bourbon, and then passed under the Kingdom of Italy in 1861. During the Second World War it had a crucial role for its strategic position in the Mediterranean, to the point of be fortified and equipped with artillery.
What to see during your stay
An obligatory stop on a trip to Lampedusa corresponds to the homonymous nature reserve, located between Lampedusa and Linosa. The reserve is very rich in flora, with species that are not found in any other area of Italy. Examples are tiger flower, acaule cornflower, wild carrot and wild chamomile. The fauna is not far behind with the presence of mammals, reptiles, birds and insects of various kinds. There are even two species of bats, namely the miniopter and the greater vespertilio.
It is also interesting to take the Panoramic Road of Lampedusa and visit the Faro di Levante, which is located on the promontory of Capo Grecale. Built in the 19th century, it dominates the Mediterranean and allows a truly breathtaking view
Another definitely unmissable building is the Teatro Massimo. It was inaugurated in 1897, it is the largest opera house in Italy and the third in Europe. Only the theaters in Vienna and Paris are superior to it and, in addition to hosting world-class operas, it offers views across the city.
On the religious level, the main place of worship in the city is its Cathedral. Dedicated to the Holy Virgin Mary Assumed into Heaven, like the Norman palace it has a variety of styles – both inside and out – which make it a cathedral of rare beauty.
Typical cuisine and dishes
Lampedusa is famous for several fish dishes, includingshrimp and mint salad (a fresh dish and therefore ideal for summer days). Spaghetti with bottargaand pasta with mullet are recommended as first courses, while another typical dish of both Sicilian and local tradition is couscous with fish and vegetables.
To taste these and other dishes, one of the most interesting restaurants is Il Ritrovo (which offers traditional Lampedusan dishes from both sea and land). Also worth mentioning are the Giglio Lampedusa Restaurantand theMir Mar Restaurant Pizzeria, both within their respective hotels and with traditional local fish dishes (as well as vegetarian alternatives).
Activities and excursions
Among the most recommended activities during a stay in Lampedusa there is certainly a boat ride, in order to see the island from all points of view. A tour that can also include Linosa, the other inhabited island in addition to Lampedusa among the Pelagie islands. A small and uncontaminated pearl, between the green of nature and the black dictated by volcanoes.
In addition, it is advisable to visit the inner part of the island to better understand both its wilder nature and the remains left by all the populations that have passed through here.
The main beaches of the island
Among the reasons that make Lampedusa a very popular destination for tourists there are certainly its splendid beaches. Among the most famous is Cala Croce, a natural inlet located east of the Guitgia beach and a short walk from the town. In this cove there are two white sand beaches, bathed by a beautiful turquoise sea and always calm as the cove is protected from the winds.
To the west of Cala Croce is Cala Madonna, bathed by a sea that goes from blue to turquoise and with a very rich seabed. It is therefore an ideal cove for snorkelling enthusiasts, as well as not being very busy and therefore interesting for those who want to enjoy some relaxation in solitude.
There are many other beaches on the island that could be mentioned, from Cala Grecato Tabaccara. However, there is one that deserves mention more than others, namely the Spiaggia dei Conigli. It is the largest on the island, with very fine sand bathed by a crystalline sea that gives life to an extraordinary spectacle. Indeed, in 2013 it was voted the most beautiful beach in the world by TripAdvisor.
How to come
To reach Lampedusa you can opt for the plane or the ship. The first is the fastest way, with the island’s airport connected with the Sicilian ones of Palermo, Catania and Trapani, but also with the most important ones in the rest of Italy (Milan, Rome, Turin, Genoa, Venice and Verona). To arrive by ship, on the other hand, you need to reach Porto Empedocle (along the southern coast of Sicily), from which hydrofoils depart with which you can reach the island in 4 hours.