Egadi Islands: Guide of the Trapani archipelago
The province of Trapani includes the Egadi Islands, an archipelago located 7 kilometers from the west coast of Sicily between Trapani and Marsala. It includes three islands (Favignana, Marettimo and Levanzo) and two islets, as well as a series of rocks and stacks. Certainly an interesting destination, with its breathtaking beaches and its naturalistic beauties.
History of the archipelago
The first human settlements on the archipelago are traced back to ancient times, on the islands of Levanzo and Favignana. Later, to be precise in 241 BC, the islands were conquered by the Romans after the final naval battle in the First Punic War. This is the clash in which Gaius Lutatius Catulus got the better of the Carthaginian fleet. Following the collapse of the Roman Empire, the islands were controlled in order by the Vandals, the Goths and the Saracens.
In 1081 they were occupied by the Normans, while in the following eras they became property first of the Pallavicini-Rusconi (ancient feudal family) and then of the Florio (noble family belonging to the Belle époque). Currently they are part of the municipality of Favignana, in the province of Trapani. The only exceptions are represented by the island of Mozia and Isola Grande, belonging to the Trapani municipality of Marsala.
The islands and the main places to visit
Among the many naturalistic beauties that can be admired in the archipelago of the Egadi Islands, their nature reserve stands out, defined as the largest Marine Protected Area in Europe. In terms of flora, it hosts about 400 different species, among which the Mediterranean scrub obviously stands out (with euphorbia and rosemary among the most common plants).
Speaking of the fauna there are different types of birds, both sedentary and migratory. Among the most common species there are the storm bird, the shearwater, the shearwater and the Bonelli’s eagle. There are also mammals (such as the Sicilian crocidura) and various types of insects.
To immerse yourself in ancient times and relive the first human settlements on the archipelago, it is necessary to visit the Grotta del Genovese in Levanzo. It is an archaeological site that testifies to what life was like 13,000 years ago, documenting the culture of the men of the Paleolithic and Neolithic times that has come down to us through the rock representations.
Other caves are present in Marettimo, which remains the “wildest” of the three largest islands of the archipelago. Among the most famous are the Grotta del Tuono (famous for the presence of stalactites and stalagmites) and the Grotta del Cammello (which takes its name from a rock in the shape of a camel).
A boat ride to admire all these caves is among the recommended activities during a stay in the Egadi Islands. However, Marettimo also houses the Museum of the Sea, which houses a series of tools, materials and souvenirs thanks to which it is possible to preserve the strong maritime identity of the island. An art of fishing that has increasingly fallen into disuse, especially due to the migrations of fishermen to other European countries between the 1800s and 1900s.
The main beaches of the Egadi
In addition to immersing yourself in the nature and history that abound between these islands, during a holiday in the Egadi it is obvious to admire the various beaches that the various islands boast. The most famous is present on the island of Favignana and is that of Cala Rossa, defined in 2015 by Sky Scanner as the most beautiful beach in Italy. It is a cliff beach like Bue Marino and Cala Azzurra, while to have a sandy beach you have to go to Burrone.
In Marettimo there is Cala Bianca, considered the best stretch of coast of the Egadi Islands together with Cala Rossa. On the island there are also various paths used for trekking routes, among the many activities that can be done on or near these islands (such as diving).
What and where to eat
The most characteristic food of the Egadi Islands is certainly tuna. Whether you go to Marettimo, Levanzo, Favignana or the smaller islands, this fish will always be the basic ingredient: from spaghetti with bottarga to meatballs. In addition to tuna, due to the influences that have been there over the years from the Arab and Spanish cultures, it is possible to eat an excellent couscous of fish and vegetables. Also interesting are the “pani cunzato” (sandwich stuffed with local products) and the “nunnata” (fish fritters). T
o enjoy a good dish, one of the most recommended places is certainly the Bistrot Camarillo Bruno. A place with an area dedicated to the restaurant, which offers excellent quality fish dishes, and another with a bar where you can have an aperitif and spend some fun time with friends. To taste Sicilian specialties embellished with typical spices of the area, it is advisable to go to the Carrubo restaurant in Marettimo.
How to get there: the ferries
To reach the Egadi Islands it is possible to use catamarans and hydrofoils, supplied by the Siremar and Ustica Lines companies. Departures are from the ports of Marsala and Trapani and, in the summer, there are boats that also depart from Naples every Saturday. There are ticket offices near the pier, but you can also buy tickets online.