Isola delle Femmine: an oasis of tranquility near Palermo
Among the places to consider during a trip to Palermo there is certainly also the Isola delle Femmine. Despite the name, it is a town in the Sicilian capital present on the mainland and which also includes a nearby islet. An oasis of tranquility, which can be the ideal destination for both those who want to relax and for those who intend to immerse themselves in nature.
History of this "island"
Since ancient times, the islet of today’s municipality of Palermo was considered a place to be used for purely defensive purposes, due to its conformation and its position (being a safe shelter against the Levant winds for small boats). The history of this locality is very focused on why it has this particular name. According to some scholars the name derives from “Fimi”, diminutive of Eufemio (Byzantine governor of Messina). Another version says that it derives from the Latin name “Fimis”, a term that derives from the Arabic word “fim” or embouchure (the channel that separates the island from the coast). There are also two hypotheses that are more “legendary than historical”: the first argues that in ancient times there was a women’s prison on the islet, while the second that 13 girls who had committed terrible crimes had been abandoned in this place. More or less plausible stories, which give even more charm to this Sicilian town.
Excursions and activities
Once in the municipality of Isola delle Femmine, it is possible to visit the small village of this municipality of Palermo. A village where in the morning you can witness the return of the fishermen or rent a boat to go on an excursion.
Furthermore, among the streets of the historic center there are many artisan shops and there is also the Mother Church, also known as the Sanctuary of the Madonna delle Grazie. It is a building built in the second half of the 19th century and renovated several times with new decorations.
Choosing to visit Isola delle Femmine at the end of June you can attend the feast of San Pietro, celebrated on the 29th of the month to celebrate the bond of this village with the sea, remembering the patron saint of fishermen. On the islet, however, it is possible to see what is called the Torre di Fuori (dating back to the sixteenth century and inserted in the defensive system of the coastal towers of Sicily to prevent attacks by Barbary pirates).
Places to visit: The Natural Reserve
In addition to the various activities that can be done on the beach, this location also allows you to visit a beautiful nature reserve on the islet of the Palermo municipality. It was established by the Sicily Region in 1997 and entrusted the following year to the Italian Bird Protection League with the aim of protecting the flora of the area by favoring the stop on the island of some fauna species during their migratory movements.
In terms of flora, there are about 145 different species, some of which are typical of the island. Among the numerous plants that can be mentioned are the asphodel, the iris, the glasswort, the spur, the romulea, the gorse of the cliffs and many others. Speaking of fauna, there are both sedentary species and migratory birds that stop on the island at different times of the year. Among the birds of prey that populate the island are the buzzard and the peregrine falcon, while among the migratory there are species such as the cormorant, the egret, the gray heron and the kingfisher. In addition, there are also terrestrial species such as wild rabbits, various types of lizards and beetles.
What and where to eat
The Island of females mainly offers fish-based dishes, due to its ancient seafaring tradition. Its cuisine has been greatly influenced by the presence of other peoples, who have alternated in this area over the centuries.
In the tradition of the area, however, there are also classic dishes of Sicilian cuisine. Among the most typical of the area are: risotto alla marinara, fish couscous, bucatini with sardines and toasted breadcrumbs, spaghetti with sea urchins, octopus carpaccio and tuna with meat sauce. Among the most popular places to enjoy a good dish is the Fresco Restaurant, which offers fish specialties and Palermo cuisine.
Beaches of the Isola delle Femmine
The stretch of coast of Isola delle Femmine, with its succession of beaches and coves, is particularly famous and popular. In fact, the needs of visitors of various kinds can be satisfied: families – perhaps with small children – can relax on its sandy beaches bathed by calm and turquoise waters, while other beaches in the area are more suitable for snorkelling and diving enthusiasts.
In fact, there are sea beds with red corals, expanses of posidonia (a particular aquatic plant), many varieties of fish, underwater caves and also finds dating back to the Hellenic era and wrecks. Finally, there are windier stretches of the coast, suitable for those who want to practice surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing.
How to get to Isola delle Femmine
To reach the Isola delle Femmine by car from Palermo, take the A29 motorway to Mazara del Vallo, take the Alcamo-Trapani branch and then take the state road 113. There are also direct buses, which connect the Isola delle Femmine. to Palermo in just thirty minutes.