07/2003 - Italy, Pantelleria island

7-day trip to Italy – Pantelleria island – visiting Cala Gadir , Castello , Punta Spadillo , Scauri, prawns lake, Piana della Ghirlanda, Valle Monastero, Mueggen, Tracino, Punta dell’Arco, Elefante, Sant’Antonio, Specchio di Venere, Bagno dell’Acqua, Bugeber, small churches, “edicole” (religious niches), Montagna Grande, cuddie, volcanic cones, Sese Grande, Favara Grande

I went to Pantelleria attracted by the beauty of its sea , but the island hides many other surprises :
the beauty of its inland with numerous crops (mainly capers and vineyards ) and the great friendliness of its inhabitants, “i panteschi ” , all of them without exception.
Among all of them I would like to mention two persons:
Fabio who made us “live the sea” in a wonderful way because, deeply loving “his” island, he managed to convey his love to us.
Alexander, histrionic restaurateur who serves his specialties under the shade of a large carob tree where you can enjoy the view from the top of Cala Gadir .
It is better to know that dishes and drinks with a special names (for example ” rolls of love” or the wine “juice of Venus” ) are nothing more than common dishes of Pantelleria and homemade wine.

Our first approach to the island was through two beautiful aerial sights: the area of Punta Spadillo and that of Pantelleria harbour.
The harbour is dominated by the castle.

The first day we did the tour of the island with Fabio’s boat to admire the sea entries; Fabio showed us the most beautiful coves suggesting stunning bathes that I documented with underwater pictures.

The scenic route offers many beautiful views.
First we admired beautiful crops on terraces created with dry-stone walls built using lava stone and restored “dammusi “. The “dammuso” is the typical rural building of the island; it is rectangular, usually with a barrel dome, and is built using lava stone creating very thick walls (even two-meter thick) which guarantee an excellent thermal insulation. The roofs of the “dammusi” in the village of Scauri are beautiful.
Another two views: the beautiful sea and the Mediterranean bush in the area above the sea-side village of Gadir and the small inner lake named ” prawns lake” in the area of Punta Spadillo .
Pantelleria is not only sea. The “panteschi” (Pantelleria inhabitants), in fact, are more farmers than fishermen.
In small inland valleys (Ghirlanda, Monastero, Mueggen) they have created very large cultivable areas thanks to the hard work of cleaning all volcanic rocks which have been piled to build the dry-stone walls that now surround the various properties . There are two main valleys in the island: that of Ghirlanda, the largest of the island, and that of Monastero.
With regard to the “agricultural Pantelleria” I show the vast expanses of vineyards in the north part of Monastero valley and the viticulture of Muegen, the “ island in the island”, above Tracino and Punta dell’ Arco (or dell’ Elefante ) with its many ancient “dammusi” and the beautiful church of St. Anthony.
The second important cultivation is that of capers; it is interesting to know that the capers are the flower buds of the plant before flowering. Therefore they must be promptly collected repeating the operation every ten days. The caper flower is very nice and delicate.

The lake “Specchio di Venere” (Mirror of Venus), also called Bagno dell’Acqua , can be admired in all its beauty climbing the road that leads to Bugeber. Bugeberg is a beautiful village surrounded by green terraced hills, all cultivated with the low characteristic vineyards of the island.
The bougainvillea’s intense spots of colours are wonderful and range from blue to purple , from yellow to purple-red .
The lake water takes different colours during the day and varies according to the water depth. Going downwards from Bugeber this phenomenon can be fully enjoyed because the reflections change in every bend as well as colours which range from blue to light blue, from turquoise to yellow.
The lake water is rich in minerals and there are several sulfur springs with high temperatures (even over 40 degrees). So the mud , very rich in mineral substances, is used for therapeutic purposes. I show the spa area and the therapeutic use of mud. Foreign ladies did not miss the opportunity to take the best of the mud’s cosmetic properties . It was funny to see them becoming , from completely black, all grey , as soon as the mud dried on their skin.

Gadir is a small fishing village known already in the Phoenician era, reachable after facing three hairpin bends , worthy of the passes of our Alps
In Gadir I stayed in a cool “dammuso” (inside there were 28 degrees and outside more than 43!) with a beautiful garden and friendly owners (the family of Pino Lo Pinto ) who made me taste the products of their land. It is situated exactly on the last hairpin bend and offers a nice viewpoint over the harbour.
There are numerous amphoras on the seabed , the last remnants of the many removed in past years after having discovered the wreck occurred to four old ships.
In the nearby “dammuso” there is a beautiful garden enriched with several and important cactus-plants with the adjacent outdoor cooking , a prerogative of almost all the “dammusi” of the island.
The small and characteristic fishing boats anchored in the harbour are numerous.
On its shore they repair the hoop nets used to catch the lobsters of which the deep waters are rich.
The area of Cala Gadir is much appreciated for the existence of numerous thermal springs both near the sea and in the harbor. To create an easier access for tourists, there are artificial swimming-baths.

Wandering in the island you may find beautiful small churches all white painted and “edicole” (religious niches) located in the most unlikely places , usually near the dry-stone walls.

Going around in the island, along secondary roads, very narrow, full of bends and with nearly impossible slopes, we met many ancient “dammusi”, some disused , and many others restored by “panteschi” or purchased by tourists who have built luxurious summerhouses .
Many are the well-known names such as Giorgio Armani and Riccardo Muti.

Pantelleria , a volcanic island, is the emerged part of a mountain which, from the depths of the sea, comes out for its final part of more than two thousand meters.
Coming down from the Montagna Grande (Big mountain) ( 830 m above sea level ) we could enjoy a splendid view towards the town of Pantelleria. On the island there are seven or eight volcanic cones and more than 50 “cuddie ” (hills) formed by lava that, for lack of energy, did not explode and did not form a volcanic cone . I documented some eruptions to show how they seem to have happened only yesterday and not 300/400.000 years ago.
The pastures burnt by the sun in the area of Favara Grande are impressive, and it is very interesting the prehistoric area of Pantelleria. The imposing Sese Grande, a megalithic funerary monument dating back to about five thousand years ago , has eleven entries and, at the end of each one, there are cells where the bodies of the dead were placed.

I have collected in this photo gallery all that I thought to be interesting to be documented, but now it is up to you to judge!