Following the bluefin tuna on their route from Favignana to Mondello
You’re probably wondering what “Following the Bluefin tuna” means.
In this tour, we’re going to follow the famous route which the Bluefin have been taking for many centuries. So why don’t we follow the tuna on their journey around Sicily?
Bluefin tuna live in the Atlantic, but when they need to fertilise their eggs they cross the Strait of Gibraltar and enter the Mediterranean sea, attracted by the warmth of its waters. The tuna then travel around the island before returning to the cold waters of the ocean.
The “first route of the bluefin” is therefore the first waters in which tuna arrive from the Atlantic sea. The fish then travel south-east through Messina, between the months of June and August, before returning to the ocean.
Are you ready to follow the bluefin tuna on their ancient and dangerous journey through breathtaking landscapes and beautiful seaside villages? Let’s go.
We start the itinerary from the island of Favignana where we find the most famous tuna fishery in the west (and one of the largest in the whole Mediterranean): the former Florio factory of the Favignana and Formica tuna fisheries. The last Sicilian fishing catch took place here in 2007. The factory has been perfectly renovated and is a great example of industrial archaeology. Inside there is a museum with multimedia rooms, video documentation of the slaughter and an antiquarium with archaeological finds from the Egadi archipelago. It is impossible to leave the island without having tasted tuna: you can try it both processed (in oil, bottarga, offal) or fresh (plates, sandwiches, even kebabs!).
Let’s now return to the mainland and stop at the San Cusumano tuna fishery, an industrial site combining the old San Giuliano and San Cusumano tuna fisheries on the Trapani seafront. The Punta Tipa facility was the first to be built in western Sicily. From here we move a few kilometres further north to reach another symbolic place for tuna fishing: the Bonagia tuna fishery in Valderice. The site overlooks a charming little harbour in the bay of the same name. The tower of the tonnara (tuna fishery) is now a museum and preserves several items from the past. There’s also a very famous story about the lands between Bonagia and Pizzolungo: according to some, it was here that the mythical Anchises, father of Aeneas, died.
Let’s get back on the road and head north again, towards the Tonnara del Secco, in San Vito lo Capo. This tuna fishery is incredibly fascinating in terms of location and structure that it was chosen as a film set, including some scenes from Il commissario Montalbano a very famous Italian TV series. In San Vito lo Capo you can swim in its famously crystal-clear waters, or just relax on one of its many beaches. Before leaving, take some time to try one of the typical dishes of this area. We suggest tasting the couscous dish which is delicious and may be considered a cultural bridge between the different Mediterranean cultures.
After lunch, we keep following the tuna migration. We head east and stop at the Tonnara di Scopello. It is one of the most important and oldest tuna fisheries in Sicily. Overlooking its famous sea stacks at this stunning location you will be left breathless. If you want to have a walk in the middle of nature, you can discover the Zingaro Nature Reserve. It is set over the blue waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea and you can reach it from both San Vito Lo Capo and Scopello.
Next, we move on to the centre of the Gulf of Castellammare, overlooked by the ancient Tonnara di Magazzinazzi. It is an imposing building, where you can see the equipment, nets and boats that have been used for years in the centuries-old tradition of fish catching. Castellammare also offers beautiful sandy beaches where you can relax.
After that, we can head towards the last stop of the itinerary: the tonnara dell’Orsa (tuna fishery) in Cinisi. This place has been recently brought back to its former glory. It houses a cultural centre and a Maritime Museum. The tower is also worth a visit: it was a military building that was part of Sicily’s system of watchtowers. And talking about towers, we have to mention Mondello’s tower which was the military defence garrison of the ancient tuna fishery. Now that you’re in one of Sicily’s most famous resorts, you should take time to enjoy the beaches, the summery atmosphere and the delicious fried fish.
The tuna will continue their journey eastwards. If you still like following them, you have to visit the return tuna nets in south-eastern Sicily.