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The Egadi archipelago is made up of the islands, Favignana, Levanzo, Marettimo and the islets and cliffs, Formica and Maraone. The islands, situated in front of the western coast of Sicily, between Marsala and Trapani, are mainly of limestone and dolomite nature.
Favignana and Levanzo are closer to Sicily and more’ exploited from the tourist point of view, while the island of Marettimo, the farthest from Sicily, preserves a more wild nature. In Levanzo and to a lesser extent in Favignana, archaeological finds and graffiti dating back to very ancient human settlements have been found. Over the millennia, these islands have been subject to numerous dominations. In the Carthaginian period followed the Roman one.
After the fall of the Roman Empire came the vandals, the Goths and the Saracens. The Saracens were followed by the Normans, the Swabians, the Angevins and the Aragonese. In 1640 the islands were sold to the Pallavicino family; then the royal house reserved the rights on the castles, fortresses and its approval on any emphyteeutic concessions of the land.
In 1735 there was the settlement of the Borboni and in 1874 the Florio purchased the islands from the Pallavicino, coming into possession of the bare property of them and the tuna traps. This family of very creative industrialists, whose history is linked to that of Favignana, modernizes the activity related to tuna fishing and made this industry very avant-garde in Italy, between the end of the nineteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century.
What are the Egadi islands to see
The island takes its name from the warm western wind, Favonio. Its territory, mainly flat, is dominated in the centre by Monte Santa Caterina m. 310, on whose summit stands the Fort of the same name. The mountain ridge, characterized by karst rocks and caves, winds through Punta Campana, 295 m., Portella del Cervo and Punta Grosso, 252 m., on both sides extend, the Piana del Bosco to the west, and the Piana to the east. The calcareous nature of the land has allowed, since ancient times, the extraction of tuff.
In the past, this excavation work has been as important as fishing activity, for the economy of the island, today it remains a very suggestive landscape, marked by the ancient fatigue of the quarrymen. The white tuff walls, dug by silent galleries, overlook a crystal clear sea.
Cala del Pozzo, Cala Rossa, where the naval battle between the Romans and Carthaginians was fought in 241 BC, marking the end of the first Punic war and the victory of the Romans, (the seabed of this sea keeps the memory of these distant events) then Cala Azzurra, located between Punta Marsala and Punta Fanfalo, Lido Burrone, the largest beach of the Favignana is also the name of the main centre of the island, the capital of the archipelago and port.
In the centre you can see the elegant Palazzo Florio, built in 1876 by the Florio family, designed by architect Giuseppe Damiani de Almeyda, who also worked on the restructuring and extension of the factories in the Tonnara. Today the large Tonnara complex is being renovated and transformed into a cultural centre. Favignana is linked to the ancient tradition of Mattanza, tuna fishing.
Between May and June, during the migration of tuna, this ancient ritual takes place, which provides for a long barrage net that forces the tuna to enter a series of chambers from which they can no longer leave. This preparation is done in advance, when the right moment comes, the tuna boats, at the rhythm of popular songs called wafers, reach the extreme point of the tuna trap and the Rais, the head of operations, orders the beginning of the slaughter.
It is a small island, the smallest of the Egadi islands, situated in front of the northern coast of Favignana. Its appearance is hilly, the highest point is the Pizzo del Monaco at 278 m a. s. l., its coasts are high and rocky. In the inlet of Cala Dogana, south of the island, there is the only inhabited centre and the small port. Rainwater is collected in the cisterns of the houses of Cala Dogana and the farmhouses scattered in the countryside, because there are no water resources on the island.
Immersed in unspoilt nature, there is only one road that crosses the island from north to south, the paths wind along the coast and its interior, where in the highest part, on the slopes of the hill, you can’ admire a characteristic flora formed by prickly pears of India, agaves, euphorbia, lentisk, ferule and many other endemic species. On the north-western coast, on the steep limestone wall, at a height of approx. 30 m, overlooks a small cove, the famous Grotta del Genovese, which can be reached from both land and sea.
The cave contains inside it a patrimony of great value of expressiveness’ prehistoric figure, realized in engraved figures and painted figures representing cattle, deer, horses, fish and human figures. Along the coast, there are enchanting coves with crystal clear sea, such as Cala Tramontana, Cala Calcara, Cala Nucidda and Cala Fredda. The depths of the waters of Capo Grosso, in the northern tip of Levanzo, preserve the memory of ancient battles, and also the waters in front of Cala Minnola, a suggestive cove with the pinewood that almost reaches the sea, preserve a very interesting archaeological site formed by fragments of a Roman wreck, pottery and amphorae.
It is the wildest and most mountainous island of the Egadi archipelago. Its highest altitude is Mount Falcone, 686 m. s. l. m., its high and rocky coasts plunge into a crystal-clear sea. Marettimo has preserved an extraordinary naturalistic patrimony, rich in many species of endemic plants that cover the whole surface of the island, above all the inaccessible cliffs and vertical rocks, where the most unique and interesting plants are found.
In Marettimo, compared to FAvignana and Levanzo, there is more abundance of spring water, the town is located in the narrow coastal strip in the eastern part of the island. Taking a boat ride, advisable to visit the coast rather wild, you can admire the beautiful sea caves with crystal clear seabed, such as Camel Cave, Cave of Pipa, Cave of the Sirens, Cave Perciata, Cave of the Nativity and Cave of the Bombard, without forgetting the suggestive Cala Manione, Punta Troia, Punta Mugnone, Cala Bianca,.
To visit the island in its interior and enjoy its scenic beauty it is nice to make hikes on foot. The Roman Houses can be reached at 248 m altitude through one of the most luxuriant areas of the island. at an altitude, the Byzantine Church and the traffic light at 500 m a. s. l. from the Roman Houses, a path climbs uphill to the summit of Mount Falcone, the summit of the Egadi.
Another excursion can be made heading south, after leaving Punta Bassana continue north-west and you can reach the western side of the island, the steepest and most dolomitic, where the lighthouse is located, near Punta Libeccio. Finally, along the eastern side of the island you can reach the castle that rises on the suggestive Punta Troia.