Do not mistake who defines the Pantelleria “Mediterranean black pearl” and no mistake those who say that this island is an absolute island: the if he loves or hates if. Because Pantelleria is sharp, violent, intense, isolated, pure and hard as a diamond. And not everyone is able to deal with this purity. Us, in just four days, we fell in love Pantelleria, Sicilian from the soul discreet jewel, where the welcome is always home and where time passes more slowly than elsewhere. The deep blue sea is just one aspect of Pantelleria, that inside has kept the soil character, warm and genuine. We tried to capture this character, crossing the island far and wide and discovering the stars, flavors and traditions. Because Pantelleria is Sicily squared, and if the love will love forever. Or you could also run away after a few hours: They told us that it has already happened, and not only once. Pantelleria is home to an extraordinary Passito wine, capers in bloom climbing up the stone walls of lava stone (whose construction technique is intangible heritage UNESCO), of olive trees that grow as bonsai, Wind worn stones and waves, bougainvilleas opulent and prickly pears on the sea, but it is also the home of men intertwined this fate isolated, these volcanic rocks drawn by the wind.
Just the wind Pantelleria owes its Arabic name: “bent-al-riyah”, what does it mean “daughter of the wind”. Instead, for the Greeks and then the Romans the island was called Cossyra. Today, nestled in the Mediterranean Sea, closer to the coasts of Tunisia and Sicily, far away from mass tourism, Pantelleria has about 8.000 inhabitants, that in summer increase significantly, but without altering the balance of a very small territory. In order to get around the island you need to rent a car, a scooter or a bike. We chose to stay on the island at the beginning of September, when tourism is now waning wave, during Pantelleria Doc Festival, event dedicated to wine in a week involving all major towns, with initiatives related to wine culture, of the island's products and gastronomic traditions.
Christian exiles Earth and Saracen invasions from the sea, Pantelleria, despite its island state, He has suffered several invasions and, Obviously, different influences over the centuries. This is evident accent of its inhabitants, which is not easily broken and is not comparable to what feels commonly in Sicily. The dialect pantesco today is a mixture of Sicilian terms, Italians, Arab and Latin. This can be seen from the names of the various original families (for example Casano, Bonomo, Errera, Valenza), and it is clearly seen also from toponomastica: the districts, roads, the landing resonate with exotic names like Khamma, Gadir, Rekale, Bukkuram, Gibelea.
The fertile volcanic soil of Pantelleria have always allowed the islanders to extract from the earth genuine products, from fruits to vegetables. The island, however, is not autonomous in terms of water, because there are no sources of fresh water, and it is therefore dependent on supplies from outside. The island's rainfall is generally low, but in some inland areas as the Big Mountain they create the microclimatic conditions which lead to more moisture and are particularly suitable for certain types of crops. The lives of Zibibbo, pride of Pantelleria, particularly benefits of this climatic trend and climbs, with olive trees, Capers, bougainvillea and prickly pears, the stone walls and the terraces, which are the main element of Pantelleria views. The island is also dotted with small basins dug in the ground, where the plants are planted to find shelter from the bitter wind. For this reason, the sapling is the most prevalent form of plant breeding for. And the technique of cultivation of the vine-shaped tree entered in the UNESCO intangible heritage in 2014, What “highly practical and creative sustainable agricultural”.
WHERE TO EAT: TAVERN THE PRINCE AND THE PIRATE – Near the Donnafugata winery, Punta Karace is one of the places of Pantelleria capable of giving unique views. Franca, Luciano, Marco and Simone decided to open here the inn The Prince and the Pirate, with the subtitle “the sea in the pub”. Here, Enjoy traditional cuisine from the sea Pantelleria, a series of Sicilian substance dishes, balanced, of great intensity that take advantage of all the amazing island raw materials. Among the starters, They deserve mention the traditional couscous with bits of poor fish and vegetables, served with the fish stock, the seared mackerel, the salad of oranges and crispy capers. Among the first: panteschi special ravioli with ricotta and mint with sea urchins, with coffee powder; citrus risotto with raw prawns, spaghetti with fish sauce of the day. Among the second: Jerusalem artichokes and fried egg; the fish soup without thorns; the frying of fish and swordfish in a pan with potatoes, olives and cherry tomatoes. Obviously, you must try the cheese “dark pantesca” (one of the few cheeses produced on the island, where dairy animals are very rare) served with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and black pepper, the famous Pantelleria salad (tomatoes, onions, olives and many, many capers) and Sicilian anchovy fillets in olive oil. Among the desserts: do not miss the kiss pantesco. Guests can taste it several times a day, because it is the sweet symbol of Pantelleria and they will become employees. It is a sweet pancake topped with ricotta cheese: the simplicity is charged. Do not also miss the dessert called “Mandorla” (a mousse almond, with orange marmalade and caramelized almonds) and cassatina portion. The cost of a full meal is about 40 euro. An excellent selection of wines, ranging from Pantelleria Doc the Italian classic method sparkling wines. Open from April to October, It deserves a quote the typically marine environment, multicolour, furnished with taste and delicacy.
TO VISIT: DONNAFUGATA – L’Donnafugata wine company is a must for those who want to Pantelleria fully grasp the value of the island's wine production. Donnafugata island has 64 hectares of vineyards scattered in 14 districts. The spectacular terracing in Contrada Khamma draw a picture postcard landscape that rises towards the slopes of the mountain Gibele. Inside the basin is the working with grapes that will give life to Ben Rye, one of most famous Passito of Pantelleria Doc and awarded in Italy and in the world. The Rallo family, with Antonio and his mother Gabriella, welcomes us with a smile and a relaxed face of those who love this island viscerally. The vineyards of Donnafugata are an open-air museum, where tourists who want to get to know the reality of Pantelleria DOC wines can stroll, take guided tours and of course taste the island in a cup of the color of the sunset.
TO VISIT: Pantellerian Garden DONNAFUGATA – Not to be missed, inside the cellar master, the bush garden, the Donnafugata winery has donated to the Fund for the Italian environment (do) in 2008. Cool oasis in the summer heat, made of volcanic stones arranged in a tower, in the shape of circle, that hides inside one of the most valuable assets of the island: a plant of variety oranges “Portugal”. This very special building, 4 meters high and with a diameter of 11 meters, It helps to protect the orange plant from the wind and causes, where there is no water, moisture can concentrate in a natural way. This moisture can collect enough water to grow lush citrus plants, necessary for nourishment and vitamin C in an island where, for trees, It is very difficult to grow in height, due to the special climatic conditions. An ancient technique, which dates back to 3000 BC, and which it is still used and preserved by the people of Pantelleria.
WHERE TO EAT: SESIVENTI- If you want to start your stay in Pantelleria in the best way, you have to give you time to enjoy one of the most beautiful things of the island: sunset. “Sesiventi” It is one of the best places for a romantic aperitif with sunset views, chosen by many Italians and tourists. Here, you should book well in advance, because the places are very few. I will not spoil the surprise, but Sesiventi a drink sitting on white-washed roof of a beautiful renovated dammuso Pantelleria, lying on colorful pillows, watching the sunset on the African coast of Tunisia. One of the most unforgettable experiences of my life, although not the most comfortable. Wines, Beer and cocktails are of good quality, the appetizer is rich and is served on large wooden chopping boards, but the food passes completely overshadowed by the fireball of the sun that drowns in the sea. The service is quick and very courteous, Thanks to a very close-knit team of young (coordinated by entrepreneur Jonathan Guide), Also boasting international experience. The products used are of excellent quality and are explained in detail by the staff. Sesiventi is open during spring and summer, until mid-September. Then, as in most of Pantelleria local, It closes for the fall and winter break.
I DAMMUSI – Who gets to Pantelleria will immediately notice these low buildings, with roofs dished, scattered’ for the whole territory. They are the dammusi, the old houses of the island. I dammusi, of Arab origin, are extraordinary examples of sustainable architecture. In an island where the rains are very scarce, Corrugated roofs had, and they still, the function of collecting the rainwater that is conveyed by small drainage channels in tanks specially built inside the walls. Originally, dammusi of the houses were used by farmers and were made with the same lava stones obtained from reclaimed land. The materials used to build the roof are earth, volcanic pumice, the red tufa. Even today it is easy to see perched on the roofs of the island products: grapes, tomatoes, Pantelleria capers and zucchini are left there to dry in the sun. Today, dammusi enhance the landscape of Pantelleria by sea to the mountains. Many buildings refurbished, even by celebrities from the entertainment world, entrepreneurship and fashion, but many are still to be restored, especially in open country and in the districts not yet considered “fashionable”. Our advice is to choose a dammuso no new construction to sojourn: Pantelleria to understand you have to live like the panteschi.
TO SEE: PUNTA Spadillo – When you land in the tiny airport, you still see the green and blue waters of Lake of Venus. Contrada Khamma is a great starting point for visiting the island: a few kilometers away is the lighthouse at Punta Spadillo. Just took a few steps, immediately pluck the volcanic character Pantelleria, where they still are occurring phenomena of secondary volcanism, such as warm water and fumes. A walk along the dirt road leading to the spectacular lighthouse at Punta Spadillo (one of four island) It is proof. You will see a lunar landscape, made of game boards and lava flows, with sharp rocks that change color from red to black. Punta Spadillo is also home to the Volcanological Museum, It opened in 2010 thanks to European funds. It tells the geological history of the island through fifty of igneous rock samples. Let us remember that Pantelleria is a volcanic complex currently active. And the island is National Park. The island is the visible tip of an active of which only 28% has emerged volcanic complex.
TO SEE: LAKE OF VENUS – Khamma From the Lake of Venus takes a few minutes drive. Keep in mind that all the roads of the island are very, very narrow, so drive carefully, especially at night. I'm used’ strange to think that in a small island like Pantelleria there is also a lake, but it is the most obvious trace of volcanic origin of this magical place in Sicily. A large body of brackish water, hot, in a basin surrounded by hills, about 12 meters deep. The Lake of Venus is one of the places to visit absolutely in a bush route. The rains and hot springs are the sources that feed it, giving a pleasant water temperature of about 45 degrees. In the Lake of Venus you can dive, exploiting the natural mud of the bottom to make the wraps and relax the skin. In summer there are many tourists who flock to its banks: The car parks are very close and well organized, and you will never find crowds. A few steps from the lakeshore, I recommend a visit to the farm Marai, who has set up a small refreshment bar where you can taste a granita, salad Pantelleria, sandwiches with ingredients km zero, fresh fruit and ice cream flavored grapes raisins.
TO SEE: The ARCO ELEPHANT – There is another gift that nature has given to Pantelleria. I'm used’ the splendid elephant Arco, Within easy reach by car, heading toward Punta Tramontana. After skirting the cove of Levante, you will find yourself in front of a sea of intense blue, at times so dark as to appear black and a spectacular outcrop of rock carved by the waves, in the form of elephant's head. It must be said that Pantelleria, despite being surrounded by the sea, It has easy access points to the water: also points considered as the gateway for beginners, They represent different obstacles, and Elephant Arch is one of these points. Despite the difficulties, tourists do not give to dive into the waters of the island spotlessly clean. If you like the boat, then rent one: It is the best way to bathe in Pantelleria and is not difficult to see sailing boats that stop in the cove, protected from the winds of the mistral and sirocco.
TO VISIT: FARM BONOMO – Do you want to take home a taste of Pantelleria? The right address is the’farm Bonomo. The Bonomo family gave life to this young company a short walk from the village of Scauri: it is a company that has made the most of what Pantelleria can give to those who care the earth in a diligent and intelligent. Emanuela Bonomo is a farsighted entrepreneur. In his land produces wine, fruit, vegetables and, especially, Capers. But even jams and marmalades (figs, grapes, peaches and apricots), oregano, preserves and extra virgin olive oil (Biancolilla from olives, the only grown on the island). For sale will find fresh fruits and vegetables at kilometer zero and many preserves to buy (shipments are fast, efficient and very affordable). The harvest is among the activities that the company takes special care Bonomo: from the vineyards of Ziton Rekale born Don Petro, The Passito di Pantelleria DOP: a smooth wine, with an elegant acidity that makes it drinkable and fits in with sweets made of almond paste, aged cheeses. But you can enjoy pure, as a meditation wine. Purchase one bottle and do not forget to buy a sprig of grapes Zibibbo dried for your sweets and ice cream: You will never taste a sweeter.
TO SEE: THE caper MONTE Gibele – The farm Bonomo, certified organic since 2017, It is famous throughout the island because it owns the biggest caper and taller than any of Pantelleria. A single plot, which is located on Mount Gibele, a height of about 600 meters above sea level. The terraced walls of this caper choreographic form a natural amphitheater that you should visit during the spring and during the summer. The caper is one of the typical crops of Pantelleria and is a product with protected geographical indication (PGI), protected by the European Union. The harvest takes place from May to September, but you can always buy it because it is marketed (depending on the size: little ones, medium or large) salted and, rarely, pickle. In addition to the capers (which are the inflorescence), Pantelleria can buy cucunci, or the fruits of the caper. You may not know that even the caper leaves are edible and sold in small jars: They are good to eat and very nice to look at the plates.
WHERE TO EAT: THE NICHE – Wanted by Gianni Busetta, the restaurant (and pizzeria, but only in low season) “The Niche” It was founded in 1987 after the renovation of a “dammuso”. For years, This restaurant is a landmark in the island's gastronomic scene, also because it is one of the few restaurants, in addition to the fish food, also it proposes the few meat dishes typical of Pantelleria, first of all rabbit stew, plus a choice of sweets such as mostaccioli, unobtainable elsewhere. The facility can accommodate about a hundred people in several rooms, one of which is formed inside a beautiful garden pantesco. The tip food primarily on traditional dishes and also fits great Italian PDO and PGI products. Gianni Busetta Brignone and Giusy are conscious of the selectors of the products, in part, come from the private garden. In table arrive: eggplant caponata with toasted almonds; anchovies with olive oil and oregano; ravioli panteschi (with roe and anchovy); spaghetti with shrimps, Capers, celery and cherry tomatoes; rabbit pantesca (with carrots, celery, onions, capers and olives). As dessert: a very good “kiss of Pantelleria”, the best of my stay on the island, with the inevitable ricotta and icing sugar. But most elegant and rare “mostaccioli”: cakes of dried pasta (water, flour and lard), hand-painted and stuffed with toasted almonds, wine, honey, tangerine peel, Sesame, cinnamon, cloves, fennel seeds. The wine list at the restaurant La Niche ranges between Sicily and other Italian regions. A wide range of regional wines. With the ability to also order some good craft beers.
TO SEE: PANTELLERIA – The main village of Pantelleria, which houses the town hall and the harbor for berthing of passenger ships, It is the island's economic heartland. Here you will find bars and restaurants (all very tourist, I recommend them not), grocery stores, souvenir and the only island gas station. We suggest a visit to the imposing medieval castle, built in lava stone, with towers, stone arches and vaults. The castle, over the centuries, It has passed into the hands of the Arab rulers, the Byzantines, Norman, Spanish and today is the venue of the event Passitaly, dedicated to wine Passito di Pantelleria. The castle overlooks the sea and the harbor front, with boats of the flotilla of fishing boats panteschi.
WHAT TO BUY A PANTELLERIA – Ceramics, Capers, Eggplant, Pickles, cosmetics. Pantelleria is an island full of curiosity, to be enjoyed on the spot but also to take home. At the center of the main town of Pantelleria make a stop at Emporio taste, close to the petrol station, where you can buy, besides the famous sweet wine of Pantelleria, many agricultural products: caponata, caper leaves, Capers in salt, biscuits, canned, jams. Since the island of volcanic origin, The obsidian stone (with its characteristic black color) It is the most common material for the production of jewelry. Do not miss a necklace or a small bracelet obsidian, mostly made of metal alloys or silver. A Council: check that your jewelry has the certificate of origin and guarantee. Yet, from lava stone and mud of Lake of Venus are cosmetic products for men and women: a nice gift for those back home. On the island there are also some shops selling pottery: Many are generic Sicilian ceramics, but there are also some Pantelleria productions performed by local artists, both traditional key (with typical motifs of the island) is a modern twist.
WHAT TO TASTE A PANTELLERIA – Pantelleria is an island rich in culinary peculiarities. An example of all: zucchini Pantelleria (kukuzza pantesca), you'll see till you drop in the fields and on the dammusi of the island. Like a cantaloupe, It has a thick skin that turns from yellow to green, but his heart is soft and tasty used in several traditional recipes, as the “ciakiciuka” (Peppers, Eggplant, oil, onions and tomato sauce) And the “kukurummà” (boiled potatoes and zucchini, seasoned with olive oil). Both preparations can easily enjoy them fresh in Pantelleria restaurants, or buy them canned. They are not missing, in this island wind, chilies, they are often hung outside the houses of the local inhabitants, as well as garlic and onions. Just onions are one of the ingredients used in the local cuisine. Think all'insalata pantesca, in which they are combined with capers, on potatoes and tomatoes. The characteristic bread of Pantelleria, the aromas of fennel, It is fragrant and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Since must try the sweet ravioli (“cassateddre”), stuffed with cream cheese and dough with wine zibibbo: in the village of Pantelleria, We suggest those of Pasticceria Katia (Paolo Borsellino in the waterfront). And always in this pastry, we suggest you also try one of the many granite, especially the one with prickly pear and wine Passito. Finally, definitely not miss the kiss pantesco: an irresistible pancake sweet dough, stuffed with ricotta cream and sprinkled with icing sugar. Its shape can be butterfly, star or flower. It is obtained thanks to a special metal tool that is used during frying.
WHERE TO EAT: RISTORANTE ALTAMAREA. A terrace overlooking the harbor of Scauri. Altamarea is the most romantic place on this itinerary: If you are a couple in the mood for pampering it is the place for you. Find cheap, because it is always full, especially at dinner. In summer you eat in the tables overlooking the sea, in a discreet and elegant setting, Candlelight (some’ too dim). The chef Salvatore Raso offers a cuisine based on raw materials of the island, taking some creative license. On the table they are arrived a salad pantesca (6 euro), tomatoes, capers and basil (4 euro), caponata sea (eggplant and swordfish sour, 12 euros), busiate shrimp and pistachio pesto and samphire (18 euros), excellent spaghetti with sardines and fennel (15 euros). Shortly original choice of desserts, iconic kiss pantesco apart, paper there are only the usual parfait almond or pistachio and the eternal chocolate mousse. You eat well, with average prices (high) Pantelleria: the final bill for four courses is about 55 euro, excluding wine.
TO VISIT: CANTINA DE BARTOLI MARCO – L’Marco De Bartoli wine company represents, since the eighties, one of the best wineries in the island of Pantelleria (the company also based in Marsala). The five hectares of vineyard in Bukkuram (from Arabic “Father of the vineyard”), edited by Sebastiano De Bartoli, give one of the best dessert ever. The Bukkuram is a concentrate of grapes zibibbo, elegant, persistent and sumptuous. The visit to the De Bartoli winery is an experience that we suggest you absolutely: Sebastian will tell you in and introduce you to his passion for wine and for experimentation (Also of wine in amphorae). And you will know more closely the philosophy of the winery and his wisdom in preserving the traditional style of the Passito di Pantelleria production. I'm used, Maybe, you are fortunate enough to do a tasting at sunset just with Sebastian, sipping a glass of Bukkuram, or even the innovative Black Stone (in dry version, mineral and aromatic), watching the sun go down west towards the sea and hide behind the small screws to tree.
WHERE TO EAT: Mueggen Production Murana – Salvatore Murana is a craftsman of Passito di Pantelleria. Its vineyards, in contrada Mueggen, tell the story of this island that made the grape Zibibbo (from Arabic “zabib” meaning raisins) and its unique wine a great and vital resource. Passiti, White Pantelleria, red bush. The cellar Production Murana, born in the '70s, It is based on an experience of six generations in growing grapes. Seventeen hectares of land, on volcanic soils, that take advantage of the cool weather at the foot of the Great Mountain. And the company, family, not only it produces excellent wines, but also it proposes a formula restaurant. Do not miss a hearty appetizer with vegetables typical of Pantelleria on the quiet and cool of the cellar loggia, at sunset, sitting on colorful ceramic seats. The restaurant is called “Mueggen – island within an island” and it offers traditional dishes, with a wise use and promotion of local products, starting with the tasty capers, oil extra virgin olive and tomatoes in the salad Pantelleria. Cheese “Dark” pantesca, vegetable fritters, stuffed vegetables, cous cous, swordfish or king prawns and a great ice cream raisin wine are among the proposals of this charming trattoria. Don't miss, at the end of a meal, a special tasting of dessert wines of Salvatore Murana: Martingana Khamma 2006 and 2009 are among the highest expressions of this type of wine, itself with hints of honey, apricot jam, dried figs, and nutmeg.
TO SEE: CELLAR PELLEGRINO – The aperitif at sunset is one of the must of Pantelleria and is offered in numerous wineries, as well as in bars. Cantine Pellegrino is one of those companies better positioned than at sunset, in the district “Cuddie Rosse”, west of the island. The name “Pilgrim” It brings to mind one of the most important brand of wine Sicily. This company has arrived on the island in 1992 and its vineyards produce wines as “NES”, a very well-made sweet and easy to drink, with hints of honey, dried figs and candied fruit. A note of credit goes certainly to Moscato di Pantelleria (fishing, melon, citrus fruits), perfect while gazing at the blazing sun sinking in the deep waters horizon.
WHERE TO EAT: OSTERIA LA VELA – Scauri is the second port of Pantelleria. Here the big ships do not dock and small landing there is only room for small fishing and tourist boats. The tiny village is very characteristic and is placed on top of a hill overlooking the sea. Just at the port, waterfront, you can stop for lunch or a casual dinner at the restaurant La Vela. A safe address, where the kitchen is true and where the catch is the absolute protagonist of the table. From raw fish appetizers to soup of mussels, up pasta dishes such as spaghetti with pesto Pantelleria or those with fresh fish roe. But also mixed fried and grilled fish of the day based on that, former usage, It is brought to your table on a tray for selection by the customer. Fish: hyacinth, Saint Peter, Lampuga, common sole, the little hen, a second one that was caught the night before,. At the restaurant La Vela is no shortage rich preparations with fine lobster. only Sicilian wines and beer the local brewery “the panteska”. At the end of a meal, inevitable kiss pantesco: Well done, not anointed, with a tasty fresh ricotta and lightly sugared. In front of the restaurant “Sailing” there is also what is perhaps the easiest access to the sea from all over Pantelleria.
(Voyage of the September 2018)