With its area of 83 km², Pantelleria is the largest of the islands off the coast of Sicily. 40 km closer to Tunisia than to Sicily, the island has been occupied since ancient times by all those who from time to time controlled the central Mediterranean.
By the Phoenicians, who colonized it in the 7th century BC, it was called Hiranin , the " island of birds ", due to the birds that still stop there today during their migration, while for the Greeks it was Kossyra , " the little one ".
The current name derives from the Arabic bint alrion , " daughter of the wind ", a reference to the breeze that blows incessantly on the rocky coasts. Pantelleria has always attracted international personalities such as the writers Truman Capote , Aldous Huxley or the photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson , recently replaced by Gabriel Garcià Màarquez , Madonna and Sting , also some scenes of the film Il Postino were shot in Pantelleria.
After Malta, Pantelleria is the largest of the islands surrounding Sicily, which makes it necessary to have a means of transport for getting around. The town of Pantelleria is located on the north-western tip of the island, while the airport is located 6 km south-east of the town. The places of greatest interest are concentrated mostly along the south-west and north-east coasts.
What to see in Pantelleria
Pantelleria is a place more to live than to visit. Apart from the Barabacane Castle at the far end of the harbor, the town doesn't have much to offer in terms of tourism, having been razed to the ground during the Second World War and rebuilt with anonymous square houses. Other important places are Gadir the most graceful, Rekale in the remote southern part, Scauri the second port of the island, all of which can be visited in one day.
More curious are the natural phenomena of the island, such as the 24 cuddie, ancient craters of red volcanic rock , located all around Monte Grande, the main volcano that stands out in the center of the island.
On the top there is a sort of natural sauna known as the Dry Bath of Arturo and the Mirror of Venus, a lake with volcanic mud where famous people come to bathe.
Another of these turquoise lakes, much larger and more accessible is the Bagno dell'Acqua visible in the ancient village of Bugeber, where horse races take place in August.
In the Valle di Monastero south of Monte Grande or in the Valle di Ghirlanda, where the grape harvest takes place in September, it is possible to try an excellent alternative to volcanic baths.
Also noteworthy are the Neolithic burial mounds crossed by low passages leading to the center. The most impressive is the Sese del Re, about 15 minutes' walk south of the Cuddie Rosse. Once the island was dotted with these funeral monuments, but today only a few dozen remain as over time the stones have been used for the construction of the dammusi with thick walls of volcanic stones plastered with lime and with a domed roof to maintain the cool place in summer and warm in winter.
Pantelleria is also famous for its secluded coves and sea caves, ideal for snorkeling and diving . The northeastern tip of the island offers better spots and is home to the popular hot spring among other things.
Pantelleria has a large number of shops selling clothing and sandals to suit any need.