Looking at the sea under the pinnata (canopy) of a dammuso (type of Sicilian house) is just one of the reasons to visit Pantelleria. It’s clear that taking up accommodation in one of these old living units made of lava-stone drywalls, which are basic in appearance but rich in history and tradition, would be a full immersion in the spirit of the island.
This island has a rather serious, almost austere nature. It’s not decorated with white walls and colourful bougainvillea. In fact, its colour is the elegant and discreet black of the lava rock. Pantelleria doesn’t need to show off, it’s up to us to discover its beauty and get to know its heart.
1 – The sea
The beauty of the ocean floor, the transparency of the water and the smooth rocks which, when you lie down on them, will help us find the relaxation we are seeking in the sun. We can find hidden and beautiful places along the slopes of the Martingana, of the Balata dei Turchi, of the Faraglione and of the Arco dell’Elefante.
We have to go round the island by boat in order to enjoy the coves and natural harbours with pebble beaches and fine sand as the extremely rugged coast doesn’t allow for access by land.
2 – Wine tourism
Pantelleria is good wine! The grapevine on the sapling of zibibbo grapes is a World Heritage Site (November 2014). It is the first time in the world that an agricultural technique is included in the heritage list of UNESCO.
The visit to all the wineries, among the vines with the typical sapling vines and the annual events that celebrate the wine and the very famous Passito di Pantelleria will help us learn about the oldest tradition of Pantelleria, its culture and flavours.
3 – Archaeology
Since prehistoric times, Pantelleria has been a trade destination because of the presence of obsidian (black, hard, volcanic rock), as well as its central position in the Mediterranean. The oldest human settlement, dating back to about 5000 years ago, was the people of Sesi, a community of farmers and fishermen.
At present, we can visit the huts of the ancient village of Mursia and, through the boundary wall, discover one of the most important places of the entire Mediterranean basin, the Necropolis of the Sesi. In San Marco and Santa Teresa visit the Punic-Roman acropolis, the remains of the ancient capital of the island, founded by Carthage in the second half of the thirteenth century BC and conquered by the Romans during the Punic Wars. The court, the surrounding walls, the public buildings and tanks for the water needs covered in cocciopesto (lime mortar with crushed pottery). There have been important findings here. The three Imperial portraits among them – Caesar, Antonia Minor and Tito – on display at the Castle of Pantelleria.
4 – Diving
Pantelleria is a paradise for divers! The volcanic origin gives the island dark and edgy colours. The lack of sand in the shallow water allows, in fact, for a good visibility, making diving a magical moment.
Magnificent walls, majestic cliffs that are lost in the intense blue of the deep ocean, dry with bright colours and a large concentration of fish that from the first metres manage to envelop us. Fans of underwater photography and archaeology prefer the site of Cala Gadir that comes from arabic and means basin water. Underwater depth is wonderful: we find remains of punic and roman wrecks of the 3th and 2nd century B.C.
ph. Comune di Pantelleria
5 – Trekking and mountain bike
150 km of trails that wind throughout the territory will offer us exclusive views of the beauty of natural landscape: trekking or mountain biking trails to discover the biodiversity of the island.
We can go from coastal areas to the inland up to the Park of Montagna Grande. The splendour of the forests, vineyards, olive groves and terraces planted with capers typical of Pantelleria!
6 – Spa tourism
Would you like to go to a spa in the open air? Here it’s possible to find: the Mirror of Venus! There is a point, in the road on the hill, where we can enjoy the view of the mountain, of the lake and the sea at the same time. The Mirror of Venus is one of the most beautiful places of Pantelleria. It is welcoming and wild at the same time. It has boiling fresh water that embrace and get rid of the salt water after swimming in the deep blue sea. The reducing lake water leaves the secondary part dry, where the mud mixed with sulphur is created: it’s a therapeutic cure for us! Place the mud all over our body, let it dry and we will see the result!
There are no facilities here, no chairs or umbrellas, only a well hidden stand. A corner of untouched nature only an hour by plane from Rome or Milan… A huge thermal pool where, in autumn, it’s possible to swim together with flamingos. The volcanic island creates an environment rich in natural resources, secondary volcanic phenomena such as fumaroles, hot springs and thermal springs.
Among the most important thermal spas is Cala Nikà, in the south-west of the island, where we can find many hot springs. The Sàtaria cave is ideal for relaxing and treating rheumatism and arthritis.
Psychologically prepared for the Baths of Gadir! Here the water reaches a temperature of 60 degrees centigrade. These are real thermal baths right in the sea.
7 – Rural tourism
The dammuso is one of the main attractions of a holiday in Pantelleria! All the elements of these constructions have a specific function. The dammuso was created as a rural structure taking into account the peculiarities of the island: the wind, the heat and lack of rain.
The domed roofs are used to collect rainwater in cisterns with the thick walls, on the other hand, providing thermal insulation. Often, in addition to the dammuso, there is another rural structure, the so-called jardinu: a circular terrain of land bordered by lava stone walls inside which fruit trees are cultivated. Their high walls protect the fruit trees from the incessant wind that batters the island.
8 – Gastronomy
The gastronomy of Pantelleria is influenced by the contributions of several peoples who have dominated the island. Try the delicate ravioli amari, stuffed with ricotta and mint leaves and the scented Pantelleria pesto, a dressing made with raw tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, basil and chilli pepper, used either to flavour pasta or as an accompaniment for grilled fish or boiled meat.
From nearby Africa comes the couscous with fish, always accompanied by a variety of vegetables and legumes, usually served as a main dish. From the East comes the traditional Easter cake: the cannateddro.
From the Arabic tradition the mustazzola: a simple pastry filled with a mixture of flour, honey or cooked wine, cinnamon, candied orange peel and other spices. You should also try the ravioli dolci stuffed with sweetened ricotta and cinnamon, the sfinci a kind of pancake covered with honey, the Italian pastries cassateddri and pasticciotti.
And you know who is the king of the island? The caper! A PGI labeled product, it is cultivated in special terracing made with the typical dry walls that characterize the island unmistakably. It is harvested between May and September and then it is preserved strictly in sea salt. A real delight!
9 – Fishing tourism
Fishing tourism is an experience not to be missed, the trips usually consist of going to sea with a boat equipped for coastal fishing in the company of a crew of real fishermen. In just one day discover the different techniques of rod fishing, with fishing pots and trawls. Certainly, at the end of the day we will feel enriched with new emotions!
10 – Folkloric tradition
It’s beautiful to live in Pantelleria, even during the winter. The Carnival lasts for three months, a total of seven nights of dancing. We dance in every circolo (dance hall) once a week in different evenings and finishing on the day of Mardi Gras with a parade of floats and themed masks. The tradition is still very important in the districts where people dance until the first lights of the morning. The dance halls are still a constant presence in the districts of the island as well as in the life of the islanders as places of conviviality and fun.