In a hypothetical tour of Sicily that also includes the nearby islands, Pantelleria certainly cannot be missed. It is an island located in the center of the Sicilian Channel and whose municipality belongs to the province of Trapani. A concentration of beauty on a historical and naturalistic level, which inevitably attracts millions of visitors every year ready to admire it.
History of the island
This island has been inhabited since ancient times, in fact the oldest village on the island dates back to the Bronze Age (period between the 22nd and 5th centuries BC). Another characteristic find of Pantelleria are the Sesi, particular tombs whose name belongs to the ancient language spoken on the island.
After these first settlements followed by a long period with no human settlements, the Phoenicians arrived on the island and founded the colony of Cossyra. During the Punic Wars Pantelleria was occupied by the Romans, who managed to conquer it definitively in 217 BC. then giving an important boost to the island’s economy.
Subsequently Pantelleria undergoes a period of decline, in correspondence with the conquest by the Byzantine admiral Belisarius in 540 AD. (on a mandate from Emperor Justinian). Later, or around 700, Pantelleria also underwent the domination of the Arabs and became part of the Emirate of Sicily in 845. During this period they brought cotton cultivation and their language to the island, which still influences the Sicilian spoken in Pantelleria today.
In 1123 the island was conquered by Roger II and annexed to the Kingdom of Sicily. In the Bourbon era it became a penal colony, as well as later under the control of the Savoy. Its position was also important during the Second World War as one of the two clashes of the mid-June battle took place right in the waters of Pantelleria.
Places of interest
As previously mentioned, visitors who decide to stop in Pantelleria are certainly not disappointed. Among the most characteristic places on the island is the large stack: a rock that emerged from the crystalline waters that bathe the island and which is surrounded by overhangs, caves and other natural cavities. This gigantic rock is compared to a sort of guardian of the island, whose charm has not changed over time.
If tourists are more interested in the historical part of the island, then they can visit the Pantelleria Castle. It is a medieval monument used as a prison until 1975, where there are numerous events during the summer. In addition, since 2015 it has hosted some of the most important archaeological finds on the island, namely the famous Imperial Heads (three heads belonging to 1st century AD marble statues depicting Julius Caesar, Titus and Agrippina).
To immerse yourself even more in the ancient history of Pantelleria, you can visit the Acropolis on the hills of San Marco and Santa Teresa. Another important find corresponds to the aforementioned Sesi, typical tombs of the island dating back to 5000 years ago.
Excursions and activities to do
Among the many possibilities that Pantelleria offers there is also the Mirror Lake of Venus, so called because it is said that the Goddess Venus was reflected here before meeting Bacchus. A real spectacle from a naturalistic point of view, both for the numerous species of flora and fauna that it hosts and for the presence of thermal mud which is said to have beneficial properties.
Another place with an indisputable charm and worth a visit is the Benikulà Cave, inside which, intermittently, water vapor escapes at about 40 ° C. The place is particularly suggestive also for the panorama in which it is immersed. To reach the cave, take a path immersed in the Mediterranean scrub, as soon as you arrive at your destination, you can admire an expanse of agricultural land cultivated with vines.
The beaches of Pantelleria
In addition to visiting beautiful and important places on a historical and naturalistic level, Pantelleria also boasts numerous excellent beaches. One of the most evocative places is Nika beach, famous for being bathed in water that can suddenly change temperature. It is also far from the town and more sheltered, therefore suitable for those who want to enjoy a little relaxation.
For those who want more crowded places, it is impossible not to mention Arco dell’Elefante. It is one of the symbolic places of the island, named for that sort of rock proboscis that plunges into the water. Another very populated beach, as well as equipped with excellent services, is Lido Shurhuq.
Cuisine and typical dishes: not just capers
In terms of food and wine, Pantelleria has typical products that must absolutely be tried. First of all the Passito, a sweet dessert wine made from Zibibbo grapes grown on the island through a natural drying method.
Also worth tasting are Pantelleria capers and Bacio Pantesco, a typical dessert of the island made up of two parts of fried dough and stuffed with ricotta.
To taste typical dishes of the island’s cuisine, both from land and sea, an interesting place is U ’Trattu Restaurant Pizzeria & Wine Bar. The products are fresh and genuine and the quality is guaranteed without having to pay exorbitant prices. The same goes for La Risacca Pantelleria, which also offers typical foods of Sicilian cuisine and not only of the Pantelleria island.
How to get to the island
The island is easily accessible, both by ferry and by plane. Choosing to arrive in Pantelleria by sea there are ferries from Trapani, while by plane it is possible through daily flights from Trapani and Palermo. During the summer season there are also direct flights from the most important Italian cities such as Rome, Milan, Bergamo, Venice, Bologna, Turin and Genoa.