Favignana

 

The largest island in the Egadian archipelago, Favignana sits just a little left of the westernmost tip of Sicily. Often described as “butterfly shaped”, it is a little shy of just 40 square kilometers and thus ideal to be visited on foot – or even better, renting a bike at the harbor where the hydrofoils from Trapani dock.

Favignana’s past is entirely connected to two activities. The first was the extraction of calcarenite (or ‘tufa’) to be exported mostly towards north Africa, while the second was bluefin tuna fishing. Both business today are practically nonexistent, so the island dedicated itself entirely to its one remaining opportunity: tourism. And what tourism it is! Favignana has been the consistent winner of the title of best beach location in Italy for several years now, all thanks to its pristine waters and coastline. This is a top spot for scuba diving and snorkeling, thanks to its craggy coasts, full of small caves and interesting features attracting sea life of all kinds. Not all of its beaches are equally accessible by land, so renting a boat of any size is advisable to reach the more secluded locations.

When you are done with swimming, the island has managed to capitalize on its past with a few interesting offerings. The tuna fishing part is celebrated in many ways, even if the ritual of mattanza (literally: ‘slaughter’) of fishes can be a little too gruesome for many modern sensibilities. The former canning factory however was renovated into a wonderful cultural center, and even just learning the rich historical relationship between fishing and the island can be pretty stimulating. The rock extraction past lives on in a very different way instead. The abandoned caves have all been reclaimed in part by nature and in part by humans – both of them turned them into incredible below-ground gardens that, along with the few archeological remains that dot the island, delight anyone who wanders the sparsely populated inland. Oh, and then there is the excellent local cuisine, showing African influences. More than enough to do, for such a small place, isn’t it?