The Egadi islands
Anchored off the west coast, the three Egadi islands are the most comfortable Sicilian islands to visit. Before the advent of tourism, the prosperity of the islands was largely based on historical relations with Genoa, given that the archipelago was located along the trade route followed by Genoese sailors in the Middle Ages, the link was finally formalized when, in the mid-seventeenth century , the Bourbon king Philip IV ceded all the islands to some Genoese businessmen to pay off a debt of the tuna, which gathered here to reproduce at the end of spring
Favignana , the largest of the islands and home to the main trap, is only 15-30 minutes by hydrofoil from Trapani .
The link with Genoa is much more evident in the island of Levanzo , on the other side of the strait, which takes its name from a district of Genoa and hosts the Grotta del Genovese , where numerous prehistoric graffiti and paintings have been discovered.
Marettimo whose jagged and steep coasts are dotted with a succession of coves, ideal for swimming in clear waters.
The largest island of the archipelago has a characteristic butterfly shape and is dominated to the west by Mount Santa Caterina . It can be easily explored by bike, as the eastern half is almost completely flat. Along the coasts the spectacle offered by the tuff quarries is particularly suggestive, in particular near Cala Rossa and Cavallo .
Tonnara of the Florio plant
now abandoned it was closed in 1977 due to the crisis of the local tuna industry and, although a project had been presented to transform it into a cultural center, every initiative vanished due to lack of funds.
Fun in Favignana
In the area of the port you can book diving and rent boats relying on crystal clear waters of great attraction for divers, it is possible to book night courses for underwater archeology enthusiasts.
Eating in Favignana
In the Egadi it is almost obligatory to taste some dishes based on tuna, a local specialty that is prepared in countless ways.
If you want to shop before leaving Favignana, you will find numerous shops selling tuna-based products.
4 km from Favignana is the smallest of the main islands of the archipelago , largely used for grazing sheep and goats, with its turquoise sea and white houses it almost looks like a Greek island. The population is concentrated in the homonymous village Levanzo , little more than a small group of square houses of holiday homes arranged around a tiny port.
There are basically two reasons that bring visitors to Levanzo: the prehistoric paintings of the Grotta del Genovese and the crystalline waters that lap its pebble beaches.
Grotta del Genovese
The rock paintings of the upper Paleolithic and the Neolithic graffiti of this cave were discovered by chance in 1040. Dating back to a period between 6000 and 10,000 years ago, the paintings mainly depict animals; in the most recent also men and tuna appear. The cave is accessible from the path that crosses the island, a rather challenging path.
from the village if you continue to the left along the road for about 1 km westwards until you meet a couple of rocks emerging from the water a few meters from the shore. A quieter place is Capo Grosso , on the northern side of the island where there is also a lighthouse. Continuing towards the sea is Cala Minnola , a small bay with crystal clear waters where you can swim in peace.
Wilder and further away from Trapani, Marettimo was indicated by the English writer of the nineteenth century, Samuel Butler, in his "The author of the Odyssey", as the original Ithaca, home of Ulysses, also thinking that Homer himself was the princess Nausicaa of ancient Trapani. Its spectacular rugged shores are dotted with rocky coves that hide isolated beaches, and numerous unpleasant walks that can be done throughout the island.
Marettimo is the perfect place to relax and swim thanks to the beautiful beaches of Cala Sarda, Cala Nera and the extraordinary Cala Bianco
The Protected Marine Area of the Egadi Islands
The Protected Marine Area of the Egadi Islands (AMP), established in 1991, embraces the Trapani archipelago of the Egadi Islands: Levanzo, Favignana and Marettimo.
The institution of the MPA, which follows as a natural evolution the determination of the marine reserve, was decreed to protect the delicate and complex submarine system present in the "canyons" that separate the islands from each other.
The island of Marettimo, in fact, is separated from Favignana and Levanzo by a narrow channel 350 m deep . Some large pelagic fish live here. The coexistence of mixed sand-rock bottoms has thus determined a unique ecosystem of its kind, where strong currents are an element of vitality for large predators.
In Favignana, for example, the seabed is sandy: ideal "terrain" for a series of vegetational importance such as posidonia and peacock, known as peacock tail. One of the most interesting points is certainly the Scoglio Corrente, often "swept" by strong currents: the rocky seabed alternates with sandy banks at Posidonia.
A rare situation that creates the conditions for a very special marine environment. To the north of the Palombo rock, on a depth of 18 meters, there is the wreck of a small merchant ship , often visited by snorkelers. Tourists on holiday in the Egadi Islands can certainly take the opportunity to visit the Cala Rossa bay in Favignana, which has purely sandy bottoms, further away replaced by sand-rock bottoms covered by Posidonia.
On the island of Levanzo, this type of mixed seabed appears more clearly, thanks to the extraordinary transparency of the water that allows light to penetrate to great depths.
In the stretch of sea in front of Capo Grosso , crossed by strong currents, a succession of rocky terraces present a great variety of animal and vegetable organisms and already at 18 meters, among the boulders and in the most shaded areas, there are gorgonians and green algae.
In the deeper areas lobsters are common, while among the rocks and the Posidonia there are numerous, depending on the period, cephalopod molluscs such as polyps and octopuses.
Another common species in these depths, as indeed in those of the other islands, is the Pinna nobilis , the largest bivalve mollusk in the Mediterranean, a protected species as it is at risk of extinction.
Finally, the wonderful submerged and semi-submerged caves of Marettimo , whose walls are covered with a large number of colorful coral reefs builders.
Divers and enthusiasts will also find great satisfaction in Punta Libeccio and up to Secca del Creatazzo , where the stretch of seabed below the coast, up to 15 meters, is characterized by a series of landslides whose boulders offer shelter to numerous species.