PANTELLERIA ISLAND

Guide of PANTELLERIA ISLAND

Pantelleria is the largest of islands situated off the coast of Sicily. It is the westernmost point and only 84 km separate Pantelleria from Africa, which lies at the same latitude as Tunisia. The warm climate is moderated by the sea winds, which is why the Arabic name for the island was Qawsarah or Bent el Rion, which means daughter of the wind. Pantelleria, the current name, has Late Greek or Byzantine origins and means land rich in offerings. The jagged coasts are surrounded by a crystalline sea, the seabeds are rich in flora and fauna. The the steep slopes on the island are covered with terraced crops enclosed by dry stone walls in the typical dammusi style, give the island a unique character.  Pantelleria is of volcanic origins and at the centre of the island is Montagna Grande, an extinct volcano, 836 meters above sea level.

There are still signs of volcanic activity on the island, such as the thermal waters, natural caves and jets of steam that come out of the cracks in the rocks and Pantelleria's ancient economy was based on a highly sought-after volcanic glass. The Sesi were a civilization cloaked in mystery, they built cyclopean stone walls, tombs and sepulchral monuments dating back to the ancient Bronze Age, which can be found in the village ​​Mursia, on the northwest coast of the island. The island soil is very fertile, even if water is a scarce resource on the island, so Pantelleria is covered by a rich vegetation.

Places to visit

The houses of the main town of Pantelleria, also named Pantelleria, are clustered around the port and the Barbican Castle, whose origin dates back to the Roman era but was demolished and rebuilt several times until the most recent renovation from Frederick II of Swabia. Continuing south there is the Pantelleria Neolithic Village and the Red Kuddies, which are ancient reddish-colored craters. Following this to the south there is an archaeological site featuring a tower-shaped building made of large lava boulders, surrounded by a flat curb that spirals towards the summit. At the base there are twelve entrances  to the burial chamber, connected by a very low corridor with vaulted ceilings. The dead are buried in a fetal position surrounded by their possessions with their head facing to the west.

A little further on, the village of Punta Fram is characterized by black cliffs and caves reaching into the sea. One of the best is the Grotta di Satana which contains pools of water fed by hot springs.  Scauri is a village worth visiting, it is located high on the cliff in a beautiful location. It has a pretty harbor and thermal springs to enjoy.

Continuing along the coast you will find Nikà a tiny fishing port built in a lava ravine where there are rock pools fed by thermal springs. Continuing along the road you will find Rekhale, a village with preserved dammusi and Pantelleria gardens. Saltalavecchia (Salto della Vecchia) is one of the highest points on the cliffs in this area that has an incredible view overlooking the sea.

Balata dei Turchi is worth a visit, it was the bay used by the Saracens when they arrived on the island. It is one of the few inlets on the island protected from the wind and is therefore rich in vegetation, especially wild broom and pines.

On the Eastern side of the island, the road also has a beautiful view. Try stopping at Punta dell'Arco, a cape reaching into the sea and the Arco dell'Elefante, which is a spectacular gray lava arc in the shape of an elephant.  There is also the small fishing port of Gadir, where you can find bubbling thermal sea water. A little further on is Punta Spadillo lighthouse and nearby a natural saltwater pool surrounded by volcanic cliffs and clusters.  There is also is a lava pool filled with emerald green sea water. After passing the beautiful Cala dei Cinque Denti, you will find the Venere di Venere an enchanting lake with green waters with a sulfurous spring. It was said that a goddess used the pools here as a mirror to compare her beauty with her rival.

Beaches

A boat ride is the best way to discover the island and get a great view of the black volcanic rocks that contrast with the intense blue and emerald green sea. The coast has many delightful coves, ravines and caves. Going around the island clockwise from Pantelleria, you reach the jagged north coast, the rocks of ​​Cuddia Randazzo resemble animals and monsters and there are a series of coves and caves.  Further along the north coast you find the famous Elephant Arch and some caves divided by lava pillars.

The stretch between Punta Duce and Punta Polacca has the most beautiful caves, reachable by small boat. The Grotta del Duce, Formaggio and Pila dell'Acqua are the most spectacular part of the coast, with cliffs that rise to dizzying heights and the incredible Saltalavecchia. There are stretches of high and steep cliffs, such as Scauri, but also areas of the coast with low and flat rocks, such as near Cala dell'Alga.

Pantelleria is a volcanic island and so there are no sandy beaches, but rocky beaches instead. The island offers many coves, bays and caves accessible from the mainland and beaches suitable for children that have shallow waters and smooth rocks  to allow easy access and natural pools carved into the rock. On Pantelleria, the beaches we recommend are Cala Cinque Denti, Nikà, Arco dell'Elefante, Balata dei Turchi, Bue Marino and Gadir.

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Travel guides and tips: PANTELLERIA ISLAND

Discover how to reach and what to do in Pantelleria Island: tips, events, local festivals, culture, food and all the other details to explore Pantelleria Island can be found on our blog!

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