I love wandering around the few and narrow streets of the little towns of the Aegadian Islands, which center is always the town square where the old men, already in the early morning, sit in the Bar del Corso facing the main church read the Giornale di Sicilia and tourists have their breakfast.
Gorgeous beaches with small and maritime kiosks, more beautiful without, whom the eyes of those who we live here, are, maybe, no longer able to unearth their wonders.
Ape cars and motorbikes we don’t see riding around anymore int he streets of the cities since many years ago, here seem to be means of transport never gone out of fashion.
Sicily is perhaps a little outmoded.
Or, maybe, it’s just its ability to remain traditional and tied to the past, that outside here doesn’t exist anymore, to make it so special.
Even myself, grown up in the Island, today see romantic and elegant places what I thought was rough and unclassy years ago.
I spend time listening to the stories of fishermen. The ones that used to go out at night fishing a lot, spending days, sometimes months, in the sea catching the best tuna fish of Europe.
Smell of wild fennel and caper plants to make cunzato bread (seasoned bread), yellow daisies and elegant wilderness pouring into the turquoise sea, or in the crystal clear waters.
I love Sicily with its noisy and chaotic markets, the putìe (small shops) in which the ladies only speak Sicilian, assuming that everybody can understand, the gentlemen of a certain age watching the girls in shorts saying vulgar and funny words like they haven’t seen a woman since ever.
This is the land where I grew up, where I ran away almost 20 years ago and where, I feel, I’m coming back. With small steps.
Taking it in small doses that let me feel, at each departure, the melancholy of an affection for this complex and bloody earth, generous and proud.
Old and still land.
A land that in truth is many.
I wouldn’t be anywhere else than here. Even when it’s windy and it’s too cold to swim in the sea.
Once, in Sicily the swimming season was beginning in April lasting until November. It seems that now this is no longer true. But if the climate has changed, what has not changed is the everyday scenario of the small town of Favignana.
Having breakfast at the bar I wonder if, what happens around me, is real or, instead, is a film set in wich the background actors are already in action.
The Aegadian Islands welcomed me this way, a pretty weird weather for being May, too cool for us Sicilians, but perfect for cycling and walking around, even at two in the afternoon, under the lukewarm sun that heralds summer in the still deserted beaches.
WHAT TO DO IN THE EAGADIAN ISLANDS
The Aegadian Islands, that can be easily reached from Trapani by hydrofoil, are 3: Favignana, probably the most known, Levanzo and Marettimo, the most remote and wild.
Times that elsewhere have passed, here seem to be the same as always. Life flows slowly, fishermen mend their nets for fishing, the closing afternoon break makes pretty hard to find something open, restuarants or shops.
You walk, you ride the bicycle, you do boat rides or long walks. Aegadian Islands Egad rapresent the still old Sicilian lifestyle that, perhaps, used to be typical of the Aeolian Islands, now much more fashionable and less rustic than they could be 20 years ago.
Soul of Sicily, ancient, warm and generous, whose history is linked to the sea and so his people that, from the beautiful crystal clear and clean waters, have drawn their own living through months fishing, strategically, bluefin tuna, former resident in the Sicilian seas.
FAVIGNANA – THE SICILY YOU EXPECT
The island of Favignana is characterized by less rugged coastline than the other two islands, it allows access by road to most of the coves and beaches of the island, alternating different and suggestive scenarios.
An ideal beach destination for those looking for ancient flavors and relaxing beach life without too many worries.
The sandy beaches are few: Cala Azzurra, Lido Burrone and Praia, a beautiful bay close to the center adjacent to the Ex Florio building at the foot of St. Catherine hill and its castle, and Marasolo.
Surely the most famous cove is Cala Rossa, a bay in a tuff area characterized by blue water, easily reached by bike, just 10 minutes biking from the town center, continuing the ride we get to Punta Lunga, characterized by a series of rocky coves and finally arrive at Calamoni, where sandy coves and rocky plates come together. The ride then continues for Cala Graziosa, rocky and sandy bay, and finally Cala Rotonda.
Ex factory Florio Favignana Tuna fishery – A visit that is worth!
The Tonnara Ex Florio is not only an impressive and beautiful building but it is also a place of history that tells stories about life and death if the island of Favignana.
Here is where you find out more about the traps and about the almost mythological figures even more important of the mayor, the Rais (the leaders of the trap), and fishing strategies. A passionate and extremely educational visit that tells of characters still around town and the economy of the island at the time of the big peach.
Entry fee: €6 per person
More infos: Ex Stabilimento Florio della Tonnara di Favignana
What to do in Favignana
Favignana is worth more than a day, activities to do are numerous. Despite the size of the island and the apparent tranquility, every day you can do something new and different, or doing and doing again the same things to enjoy typical smell and quiet of the Sicilian islands.
I want to recommend the following activities:
- Riding through the streets of the island to discover the coves and beaches
- Swimming at Cala Rossa and eat pane cunzato
- Discver the caves on board the boats of local fishermen
- Scuba diving in Secca del Toro
- Paying visit to ex Stabilimento Florio
- Hike till the top of the mountain reaching the Saint Caterina castle
- Visit the clay pits
- Buy fresh fish at the fish market in the early morning
- Enjoy Cala Azzurra and Lido Burrone
- Snorkel in Preveto
- Wait for sunset in Punta Sottile and sunrise in Punta Lunga
- Eat cous cous and pasta with fish
- Have breakfast with granita or croissant with pistachio cream
Where to stay in Favignana
Aegadian Islands can be accessible with low budget during off season, but during summer things change.
Not very high prices, given the number of accommodation, rooms sell out quickly, I recommend you to book well in advance especially if you travel in July and August.
Follows my personal selection of hotels and apartments in Favignana
Favignana Hotel – Double room from €80
A few minutes walk from the pier, this elegant hotel has refurbished rooms, spacious and furnished with taste located in a strategic position. Great breakfast. Book now
Residence Favignana – Double room from €50
Facility strategically located just outside the village in a quiet and secluded area, equipped with all the amenities to fully enjoy the island. Agreements with restaurants and special prices bike rental. Book no
LEVANZO – SMALL OLD WORLD
Levanzo island, known in antiquity by Arab geographers under the name of Djazirat ‘to Yabisah or the Arid, but also Whelk and Forbantia, still leaves the mystery about its name. But no matter where it gets its name from, Levanzo is wonderful and tiny.
A small white and blue jewel set in the rock overlooking a bay of crystal clear water.
The island is located just 10 minutes by hydrofoil from Favignana, cost about € 4.98, is a solitary island, rather ideal for those seeking peace and quiet, as the town is very small, concentrated to Cala Dogana, and prefer to get lost in the wild and fragrant nature.
The island is the oldest of the three, 200 million years old, and the presence of man, dates back to about 10,000 years ago, witnessed by graffiti in the Genovese cave.
The Genovese cave, dating back to the Paleolithic-Neolithic, let us travel back 10,000 years ago, showing gorgeous graffiti and murals.
Some graffiti show animals that man wished to hunt, others depict figures in ritual dance.
What to do in Levanzo
The island is small enough to lend itself well to days on the beach and relax and boating.
In particular it is worth not miss the following activities
- Visit to the Genovese Caves
- Boat trips with local fishermen
- Enjoy the cool pine forest close to the sea
- Swimming in cala del Faraglione, Cala Tramontana and Cala Fredda
- Dive among the wrecks of the Punic Wars
- Eat Lvanzara’s cabbuccio, a kind of seasoned bread pizza sandwich
Where to stay in Levanzo
Levanzo has even less accommodation of Favagnina and prices, given the low bid, but you can find apartments or B&B from €60 per night.
For the selection of housing I used Airbnb that offers the highest number of rentals:
Sole, mare e relax – Double room from €60
The house a bit far from the center, about 20 minutes walk from Levanzo town center and a 5-minute drive. Well appointed and quiet rooms. Thefriendly and helpfu owners will make sure you will have a perfect the stay in the island. Book now
MARETTIMO – WILD WEST
Marettimo, between the three islands, is the most distant, wild and untouched, probably the distance let the island remain a remote place where the human impact is, today, still minimal.
Here is, in fact, where rare species of theMediterranean managed to survive.
The caves, of which the island is full, in fact, the only way to discover the island is by boat, are about 400, subdued and emerged.
The essence of the island, thanks to the perfection of these caves along the coast, is given by its unique scenarios, like the Tuono’s (thunder) Cave and the Presepe one, famous for its stalactites and stalagmites, and the Cave of the Camel.
The island, unlike the other two, doesn’t have many beaches reachable by land, however, should be mentioned among the few, White Cove on the slopes of the promontory of Punta Troia.
Marettimo is a typical fishing island where life still takes place in the sea, easy to see fishermen grappling with the networks or dedicated to the sale of fish.
A place far away, unspoiled and genuine, ideal for those who love peace and want to, for a few days, log off completely.
What to do in Marettimo
- Visit the many sea caves with one of the many boat trips, making stops tfor swimming in the most beautiful caves.
- Dive to admire the spectacular underwater landscape of the island.
- Visit the archaeological site of “Roman Houses” and the Byzantine church.
- Visit the promontory and the Castle of Punta Troia, recently restored.
- Admire the Aegadian islands from the highest peak of the mountain
- Visit the sea museum.
- Enjoy pasta with lobster
- Follow one of the many hiking trails in touch with nature.
- Walk to Pizzofalcone or Pizzo Madonnuzza.
- Swim in Cala Bianca.
The Roman Houses and the Byzantine Chruch
Marettimo is not only sea and snorkeling but also a place where archeology and history play an important role.
It is worth visiting the Roman houses, a Roman building of the Republican period and the Byzantine church, that dates back to the early centuries of Christianity built between 1000 and 1100 by Byzantine monks on a formerly Christian site.
The top of Punta Troia is also a magical place, dating back to the Norman period and recently renovated, that offers the most beautiful landscape view of the whole archipelago.
Where to stay in Marettimo
Isola del Miele -Double rooms from €40
Residence located in the highland of the island in a quiet and relaxing area. Rooms are quiet and spacious with a kitchenette and a private terrace overlooking the coast.
Il Corallo B&B Double rooms from €60
Rooms in the central area, furnished with typical island style, blue and white, spacious and clean. At just 100 meters from the sea. From the terrace you can enjoy a wonderful seaview. Book now
DAILY TOURS FROM TRAPANI
If time is short and you can not spend more days in the islands, you might be interested in knowing that from Trapani every day we depart organize tours taking people to 2 islands.
Obviously, these mini-cruises that put together more people and the trip can be tiring and hasty, but if you have little time and want to do as much as possible it could be a cool idea.
Mini-cruise from Trapani:
Favignana/ Levanzo – €40
Marettino – €45
San Vito Lo Capo, Riserva dello Zingaro and Scopello – €45
The companies that offer these services, which are still more or less the same, are:
Blue Lines – Standards tours
Egadi escursioni – Tours standards
Catamarano Alien Boat – A bit more expensive than the others but much more intimate setting (maximum 10 passengers)
HOW TO GET TO THE AEOLIAN ISLANDS
Getting to Trapani is pretty easy, The airport to fly to are: Trapani or Palermo.
From Trapani / Birgi there are connections every hour secured by the Azienda Trasporti Pubblici di Trapani stops at the hydrofoils pier to Favignana.
From Palermo Punta Raisi there are 3 daily buses operated by Segesta Interbus that lead directly to the hydrofoil pier.
From Trapani to the islands
Reaching the islands from Trapani is also very easy.
The companies offering this sail are:
Trapani/Favignana cost about €10
*** Book in advance during high season, you can also book your ticket here.
Trapani to Favignana 3 times per day
HOW TO MOVE AROUND THE ISLANDS
I STRONGLY advise not taking with you the car, mainly during high season.
The means par excellence is the bicycle, but you can also rent scooters or electric bikes. In Levanzo you have to walk or rent small fishermen boats. In Marattimo you better bargain with a fisherman for going along the coast discovering the incredible coastsm that’s the only way to enjoy the island.
THE DILEMMA: Favignana, Levanzo or Marettimo?
Such a DILEMMA! All three are beautiful as they are also different.
Levanzo and Marettimo are more wild and quiet, Levanzo is especially the smallest, has two beautiful beaches that you can reach on feet and is 10 minutes by hydrofoil from Favignana.
Marettimo is quite large, the fishing village seems to have remained unchanged over time, it offers a cool trek up the mountain too.
The limit, if we want to call it, is that the coves can only be reached by boat. Problem easy to solve renting a boat and haggling around with the fishermen happy to accompany you at the discover of the island’s secrets.
Favignana is the largest, easy to get around by bike, it offers a lively nightlife in the summer. Personally, I opted for this island taking everyday hydrofoils rides to get to the others. In May the island was still pretty much empty, it might be the reason why I enjoyed it so much.
So! Favignana, Levanzo or Marettimo?
There is no right answer, because wherever you are going, you won’t get wrong!