Welcome to Sicily – part tre!! – Pantelleria

26th September 2017

By Helen Parker


Travelling up the coast of Sicily we skirted ‘Palermo Centro’ knowing we would we would visit soon and headed for the airport. A big empty cool room and a little plane on the runway, just a 40 minute flight across the Mediterranean and we would be somewhere new, Pantelleria.


Hard to get to, it doesn’t have any beaches, it is in the middle of nowhere (somewhere between Sicily and Tunisia), it is closer to North Africa than Europe so arid and baking hot, it’s basically a volcanic rock in the middle of the sea. So why did it tell me in the July issue of ‘Vogue’ that if you are thinking about going away this summer make sure it’s Ibiza or Pantilleria. Apparently it’s been a haven for the likes of Sting, Rupert Everette, Hugh Grant, Martin Scorcese, Madonna and Georgio Armarni for the last 30 years. Yet no one has heard of it, it doesn’t do package holidays and there are no swanky hotels or night clubs, so what is it that draws people to this place? Well I’m really not sure about everyone else but I love the idea of all the things it doesn’t have and possibly so do a select few who have been lucky enough to visit this island.


It’s a bit rough and rugged around the edges and as we stepped off the little plane and into our open topped vehicle and felt the heat and wind on our faces we were excited. Our first stop was at quite a grand house with a pool and rooms, it was our home for 3 nights and although it wasn’t exactly roughing it, it felt just right. Nothing fancy just really beautifully maintained to ensure that guests were comfortable and able to completely relax. https://www.resortacropoli.com/en-gb/home


The island instantly felt special, the roads were rough and windy, there was very little traffic and the wild fennel and drying grasses that grew in abundance along every roadside became the frame for every image I saw. This beautiful spot is ‘The Mirror of Venus’ a warm, alkaline and sulphur lake where you cover yourself in mud and bake in the sun, when you wash away the smelly dried mud you will look 10 years younger. We went, we covered ourselves in mud and swam in the warm bath like pond and we felt younger!!


The towns along the coast are quite Arabic in their appearance, even their names sound African, Gadir, was the prettiest and most holidayish town we visited. It had so much to excite me but mostly it was the pink walls and tomatoes.


The idea of sitting at a small table drinking red wine in the shade, a view of the sea and herbs and tomatoes drying in the sun is about as good as it gets for me. This place was so laid back, folks eating big plates of pasta on the promenade, bodies spread along the rocks that lined the sea, uncomfortable, hard and jagged, they were only for die hard sunbathers or snorkelers. Just sauntering along the cool side of the road checking out the views was a better way to pass the time, no need to rush it’s too hot and too chilled for that. I loved Gadir, it felt a million miles from normal life, simple little houses, simple fresh food, dusty hot roads and crystal clear water, a few camper vans selling snacks it was just hippy heaven.


This island is home to The Damuso, it is pretty much the only type of house built here and is not seen anywhere else in the world except Pantelleria. It is really the symbol of the island and originated as a protection from invading pirates and even back as far as pre-historic times. They are everywhere, square, harsh looking buildings with domed white roofs, carefully constructed to collect the precious water that rarely falls on this island. The thick walls are made to protect you from the relentless sun and the harsh winds and in recent years these houses have become the most popular places to stay, many being done up in exceptionally stylish and desirable ways to make them the absolute height of cool.


So we moved on to our own Damuso, in the town of Scauri, it was complete excitement as we arrived, an outdoor shower and an outdoor kitchen. It was rustic, real and so quiet it felt like no one else could possibly have made it here before!! Sunbathing on the roof with just blue skies and palm trees, taking photos of everything I saw, this place was perfect and I could have stayed forever, but I was with my sister and she doesn’t stay anywhere for long!!! But I forgive her because I think she booked this place for me as she knew how much I would love it.


A hot and dusty little town, Scauri felt a bit like being in a western movie, it was great!!!  Men chilling out in the shade, ladies selling little boxes of fish, shops all closed because it was the afternoon, so all there is to do is eat lunch and drink beer at a beach cafe.



So time to move on and fly back to Sicily, just before leaving we managed to hire a speed boat and get in a days snorkeling, such fun and the fish we saw were unbelievable and the blue water was as clear as I have ever seen. Sorry to say goodbye to Pantelleria but excited to finally get to see Palermo.