The Island

Our idea of Favignana, as we live it and love it, might be more than one could find in any other tourist guide.

It is impossible to describe what makes it so magical for our eyes and sense, that ”bare rock one of those rocks that so abound the sea between Sicily and the flow of Africa” (Teodoro Monticelli, “Treaty on Bees in Favignana”, 1840).

Perhaps the colors of the sea, iridescent colors throughout all the nuances and shades of azure, turquoise, green, grey and silvery blue as soon as the clouds start to thicken in the sky. In Favignana the sea accompanies you wherever you go, an infinite horizon of sea. Even when a dry stone wall or a maquis shrub is blocking the sight, it’s present in the algae and salt perfumed air.

Perhaps the colors of the sky, at times tinted in such turquoise that the gaze gets lost, nearly surreal at sunset, with Marettimo’s unmistakable outline and the ribbon of breaking light from the light house of Punta Sottile that make up the background.

Maybe the fields left for pasture, where sheep graze, divided by the dry stone walls, pinged by maquis shrubs and by old carob trees with twisted trunks; fields that in summer grow yellow, dry, arid, but soon get covered with green grass and sudden seasonal blossom as the first drops of the autumn rain touch the ground.

Perhaps the outlines of the prickly pears, the lilac clumps of thyme, the euphorbia’s red in the summers, the caper bushes that emerge from the bare rock and give ethereal flowers, flower buds and delicious fruits handpicked daily during the month of May, treated with salt in the typical sauce bottles and later sold by elderly people from doorways in the alleys of the village.

Perhaps St. Caterina mount profile and its fort, the saddle mountain and the cross that stands on the top, and the slops covered with low Mediterranean maquis marked with paths that offer unforgettable glimpses and landscapes. It could be the rock that makes the island, the tuff stone, yellow, soft, dug by men, modeled by the wind and sea into true sculptures. The tuff mines render the view on the Favinian plain one of the most beautiful and unique coast stretches, from the lighthouse of Punta Marsala to Bue Marino, where the ancient slipways used to load blocks of stones onto boats,eventually arriving at the enchanting Cala Rossa where the intense turquoise of the sea alludes through the columns and walls of tuff from which caper waterfalls hang low.

Maybe it’s the fascination of the orchards cultivated in caves, sheltered from winds; some lands have been abandoned, leaving ground to native vegetation to spring, while others are still being nurtured and taken care of, allowing the growth of ancient varieties which had been nearly forgotten: pomegranates, sweet figs, local peaches (Saturn and Sberge peaches), almonds and vines. Perhaps the tanned faces of fishermen tiding up nets with calloused hands on small white and turquoise boats. They are usually docked at the harbor or the quaint little port of Punta Lunga.

Maybe it’s the view of the old Florio Tuna Factory by the harbor that tells the story of a prosperous past and makes Favignana a unique town.

It could be the appeal of this island during off-season when all the tourists have returned to their homes and life goes back to its slow pace.

It is possibly the faces of the local people that you meet all along; Gioacchino the Giant, the last head fisherman of bluefin tuna, Clemente the most famous tuna fisherman with his unmistakable long golden hair, Maria Guccione and her sister Giovanna that hold the secrets of the precious Favinian cusine, the deaf-mute riding his bike along the town, Uncle Sarino, that passed away but whose memory lives forever in his tuff sculptures and many more that have contributed in creating the true identity of the island.

It is still a genuine island with its many contradictions, where slow living is the essence of the land and the people.

Fabio e Ginevra