Pantelleria

Pantelleria the magical and enchanted island

Pantelleria is an Italian town of 7.695 inhabitants of the free municipal consortium of Trapani in Sicily.

The municipality covers the entire island of Pantelleria which is extended more than 80 km² (about 4 times the island of Lampedusa) and is located 110 km southwest of Sicily and 65 km northeast of Tunisia, whose coast is often visible to the naked eye. Pantelleria

The island reaches an altitude of 836 m above sea level with the Montagna Grande. The port of the island allows regular connection with the port of Trapani. Pantelleria has an airport and is connected to mainland Italy by scheduled flights, under territorial continuity.

Its territory is of volcanic origin. The last eruption occurred, in 1891, on the north-western slope, in the submerged part. There are still many secondary volcanic phenomena, mainly hot waters and steam puffs. Known is the so-called “Mirror of Venus”, a small lake basin fed by thermal waters.

Known for its centrality in the Mediterranean Sea, an intermediate stop between Africa and Sicily and a cornerstone for trade with the Levant, Pantelleria is characterized by the singularity of its landscape, in which natural elements (block lava flows, coves and stacks) are added man-made artefacts: dry stone walls, with the fourfold function of clearing the ground, containing the ground, delimiting landed property and protecting from the wind; Pantelleria gardens, almost always cylindrical constructions in dry lava stone masonry with the dual function of protecting citrus fruits from the wind and controlling the micro-climatic effects for a correct supply of water to the plant, where the island naturally lacks it; dammusi, rural buildings with thick dry stone walls, cubic, with white domed roofs and round arched openings, ancestral examples of bio-climatic architecture.

Also known as the “Black Pearl of the Mediterranean” for the lava flows that characterize the landscape, the island of Pantelleria is in fact of volcanic origin, although today the volcanic phenomena are reduced to hot waters and steam puffs, and the last eruption dates back to Nineteenth century.

On its territory, natural elements of uncontaminated charm and man-made architecture blend in perfect harmony. This is possible thanks to the dammusi, the typical houses of the island built in the Arab era in respect of the surrounding environment, designed not to impose themselves on the territory, but to adapt and merge with it, a clear example of sustainable architecture.

If you want to create a pleasant interlude between days on the beach or by the pool, you can venture to discover the archaeological sites of the island of Pantelleria, such as those that make up the area of ​​the area of ​​Mursìa and Cimillia, or the hills of San Marco and Santa Teresa, where you can admire the amazing Roman acropolis. Here, in 2003, heads of Roman statues dating back to the 1st century AD were found.

The island of Pantelleria has a lot to offer, both for lovers of relaxing holidays and for lovers of history and culture. Even from a gastronomic point of view you will find pleasant surprises: a cuisine linked to rural roots with influences of the seafaring culture, which will give you unique flavors from vegetables, legumes and fish, to the classic elements of the Mediterranean diet.

From Pantelleria pesto, made with capers in Pantelleria salt, to Pantelleria salad, based on vegetables and mackerel, to Bacio Pantesco, tempting pancakes made with ricotta and chocolate flakes, the worthy conclusion of a gourmet meal. Without forgetting to sip a good sweet Pantelleria Zibibbo, a sparkling wine that can only be produced on the island, from the typical sapling vine, a type of cultivation characteristic of the island.

Let’s start to discover the magic of this Sicilian island!

 

Balata dei Turchi

The Balata dei Turchi is located in the southern area of the island. It is a suggestive cove, framed between imposing cliffs up to 300 meters high. Its name Balata, “Balat” derives from Arabic and literally means “slab of stone”. In fact, La Balata dei Turchi is exactly a wonderful and wide stone platform that extends gently from the rocks towards the sea.

It is possible to reach it by land, along a winding and bumpy road to finish on foot, but it is precisely this difficulty that makes it unique and protects its wild soul.

It is necessary to travel a stretch of road in some places unpaved and uneven. We then proceed for a short distance on foot.

The effort, however, is rewarded, because we are faced with a place of exceptional beauty. You can relax in the sun and take a long swim, of course with a mask. From this point of view, Pantelleria really has a lot to offer.

Recent archaeological surveys have shown that the area was already frequented by man 7,000 years ago for the extraction of obsidian.

Furthermore, for those who sailed for the Mediterranean, it was (and still remains) an excellent spot sheltered from sudden storms.

The toponym, according to Angelo D’Aietti, derives from an act of arms that occurred towards the second half of the 1700s, when three pirate galleys attempted, in a calm spring night, to dock to occupy the island and to “make slaves”.

The attack was thwarted by the population and the captured pirates remained in slavery.

Legend also has it that the icon of the Madonna della Margana (protector of the island of Pantelleria) landed in Balata dei Turchi, after a shipwreck, now kept in the sanctuary of Margana located just before the Pantelleria airport.

 

Cala Cottone

Cala Cottone di Pantelleria is located on the east coast of the island, north of Cala Levante and immediately after Cala Gadir. To reach it, arrived at the Gadir crossroads, take a mule track that descends towards a small valley and reaches the cove after about 20 minutes of walking.

In Cala Cottone there is an old “buvira”. It was probably built by the Arabs during their long dominion on the island and still survives by virtue of the commitment of some willing people who restored it for the first time on April 25, 1988, and who continue to guard and care for it.

Although this ancient water reserve is located in a short stretch of high and rugged coast, it is possible to visit it.

Starting from central Pantelleria and traveling along the east coast of the island, after passing Bue Marino, Campobello, Khattibuale, Cala Cinque Denti, Khaggiar, head to the Gadir / Khamma-Tracino junction. Here, on the left side of the road, at a small square in earth and breach, a path begins that descends towards the sea.

Cala Cottone takes its name from the fact that the cove was used as a small port from which the loads of cotton produced on the island, a cultivation which has now disappeared, departed.

Here is also one of the many “Buvire” scattered around the island.

Buvire, from the Arabic buir or source, are brackish water springs originating from the meeting of sea water and rain water, in the past they were the main sources of water for non-food uses.

 

Benikulà Cave

The Benikulà Cave is located along the ridge of the Montagna Grande, in the Sibà district, in the Benikulà area. It is a real natural sauna consisting of two rooms: an external one with stone seats where there is space for 5/6 people and an internal part from which the steam comes out through a crack in the rock.

The therapeutic properties of the vapors, which reach 40 degrees, known since ancient times, have also been analysed and ascertained by the University of Palermo.

No human intervention has ever occurred in this area, the volcanic nature of the island shows its art in this inaccessible place, reachable via an ancient mule track, which at times has become a dirt path, but of rare beauty and originality.

Inside a ravine, where there are seats in lava stone, underground vapors, which are part of the secondary volcanic phenomena that affect a large part of the territory, allow you to make regenerating saunas, for the body and mind, perhaps at sunset or early in the morning, with a view of a typical, very suggestive landscape: the plain of Monastero, a valley dedicated to agriculture, with the Mediterranean sea in the background.

The Benikuà Cave or Sibà Natural Sauna is a cave formed by a fault in the rock, inside which water vapor at about 40 degrees escapes intermittently.

Immersed in a very suggestive context, it allows you to enjoy the benefits of the spas while enjoying a wonderful view.

 

Arco dell’Elefante

The elephant arch is the main naturalistic attraction of the island of Pantelleria, one of the places that most represents it.

Located after Cala Levante, it is a unique stack whose shape resembles that of an elephant, with the trunk immersed in the water to form the characteristic arch.

It is an obligatory stop for tourists on holiday in Pantelleria: if the weather is not the best to take a bath in the area, it can also be admired from the perimeter road by turning left for those coming from Pantelleria Center.

The descent to the sea is not difficult, indeed it is one of the beaches of Pantelleria very popular with families with children and the elderly. The waters are crystal clear and always clean.

It is also a place frequented by many young people: by swimming there is also the possibility of diving from a certain height. Near Cala Levante there is also a bar / restaurant, Le Cale, with a terrace overlooking the sea, very convenient for those who stay a whole day in the area.

The Arco dell’Elefante closes the grandiose cliff of the Cala Levante cove to the east, marked at the other extreme by the Faraglione di Tracino. The promontory represents the back and the head of an elephant in the act of turning to the left, while it plunges its trunk into the sea, forming a huge arch. It is almost the emblem of the island’s millennial thirst. Especially in certain hours of the day, passing under the arch by swimming or by boat, you can enjoy the spectacle of wonderful reflections and colors. The coast of the same name is relatively low and flat, accessible by car and very popular.

Once the boat is moored in the shadow of the elephant’s large trunk, the descent begins by passing right under the arch. The seabed slowly degrades, the oceanic poseidonia is the host, it happens to meet banded and pizzuti bream, brown groupers waiting to see us to escape to seek refuge. Following the holography of the seabed, we will descend right to the foot of the trunk, a large anchor will be our point of return, snappers and amberjacks generally pass quickly.

Arco dell’Elefante is one of the symbolic places of Pantelleria, this strange shape attracts hundreds of tourists every year. Easily accessible by car, it is located in the east of the island.

 

Montagna Grande

Montagna Grande of Pantelleria, 836 meters above sea level, is covered in its entirety by maritime pines, Aleppo pines, giant heather and here and there by bushes of gorse.

Scholars affirm that much of its “construction” is due to lava that came out of the many eruptive vents that after the collapse of the great caldera were busy filling the void left. Its height is now greatly reduced due to collapses that have occurred over the past millennia. Today the mountain, definitely presents itself in a more “relaxed” guise, is the destination of many hikers who walk along it along the numerous paths and enjoy the wonderful views that range in all directions. Beautiful in all seasons, luxuriant and generous, it is the ideal place for long and regenerating walks or bike rides with a guaranteed sea view. It is possible to reach Montagna Grande by continuing from the Sibà district, along an asphalted road that is bumpy due to the roots of the pines which in many places have raised the road surface.

Inside, it is possible to walk along the paths that lead into the Mediterranean scrub or that follow the path of the fire-breakers, opened by the Forestry to limit the damage caused by fires that can develop on hot days or due to incorrect behavior of holidaymakers.

The entire surface of the Montagna Grande is included in the Oriented Natural Reserve of Pantelleria whose establishment has allowed the cataloging and reporting on site of a series of ancient paths, which can be traveled on foot, which lead to the discovery of a truly inland environment. unique compared to all other islands in the Mediterranean.

You cross woods of holm oaks and maritime pines, the forest scrub with heather and wild broom shrubs, the garica rich in the scents of wild essences, such as rosemary, oregano, fennel and mint.

The perimeter of this volcanic cone is scattered with small Favare, its north / east orientation allows you to see the coast of Sicily on days with a horizon free from fog.

Shortly before reaching the top there is a rest area equipped with tables and benches. From the side facing east you can enjoy a view that extends over the crater of Monte Gibele and the districts of Khamma and Tracino.

Here, the flora and fauna deserve a lot of attention, there are 600 botanical species and 8 of these exist only on this island.

Furthermore, the Caper is grown in the Piana della Ghirlanda. Pantelleria capers are the only ones recognized as I.G.P. due to their very high quality, they bloom between the end of May and the beginning of September.

Here, it is possible to take walks in the woods of holm oaks and maritime pines and, once at the top, on fine days you can see the African coast.

 

Kuddia Mida

Kuddia Mida is a volcanic cone located below Montagna Grande. It is a point from which vapors still emerge, witnesses of the volcanic nature of the island which, even today, is expressed in secondary volcanic phenomena or fumaroles and water vapor emissions.

This bubbling nature, hidden under a mantle of idyllic quiet, makes Pantelleria a real open-air spa, embellished by the beauty of a landscape that has no equal.

The view from this place is in fact unparalleled because it extends 360 degrees from the mountain to the sea, allowing the observer’s relaxed gaze to embrace the variety of views that slope down from Montagna Grande towards the transparent blue of the Mediterranean.

Visiting Kuddia Mida and the places that continue to remember the volcanic nature of Pantelleria can create a naturalistic itinerary to discover extremely suggestive corners, capable of revealing the most intimate and profound nature of the island and its ancient history.

Venturing to discover the naturalistic wonders of Pantelleria represents a different and engaging way to enjoy its originality, a solution to be concluded with the right rest of a relaxing spa session, before enjoying dinner on the terrace of your dammuso in the waning light of the sun. lies down by the sea.

 

Mirror of Venus

The Mirror of Venus is the enchanting lake of Pantelleria, one of the most evocative and fascinating places on the island.

The Mirror of Venus was born as a crater, to then become a real open-air SPA, thanks to the thermal springs that flow inside it and reach temperatures around 40-50 ° C. The waters are not only warm, but also full of sulfur. The seabed is then covered with thermal mud with exceptional beneficial properties for the skin.

Just stay immersed in the warm waters of the Mirror of Venus for a few minutes, then go outside, collect the mud and spread it on the skin. Finally, let it dry completely and immerse yourself again in the enchanting lake to cleanse. Pure pleasure and super smooth skin!

A real paradise on earth, a naturalistic refuge that you fall in love with at first sight. An enchanting vision that literally leaves you breathless. A silence so deep that it really seems to be in another dimension.

Depending on the various moments of the day, the sun creates sensational plays of light and color on the water mirror. At night, if there is a full moon, pure magic!

Surrounded by high sheer walls and terraced vineyards, the Mirror of Venus is a perfect place even for the little ones, especially as an alternative to the sea on days when this is particularly rough.

During spring and autumn, the Mirror of Venus becomes an observation point for the passage of many species of birds. Ideal for bird watching enthusiasts!

The lake was called the  Mirror of Venus because, once upon a time, Venus, the enchanting goddess of love and beauty, used to look at herself in the mysterious waters of the lake, before each meeting of love with Bacchus.

The Mirror of Venus is a place that undoubtedly deserves to be visited at any time of the day, under the moonlight it is undoubtedly a majestic sight. Considered by some to be a precious gem with a fulminating beauty that seems to kidnap the hearts of those who stop even for a moment to observe it and which helps to make what in Pantelleria can only be a splendid holiday.

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