Pantelleria Black Pearl of the Mediterranean

Situated in the Straits of Sicily, and closer to Tunisia than it is to Sicily, Pantelleria remains part of Italy, even though there is a large Arab influence on the island. Pantelleria is known as the Black Pearl of the Mediterranean for the simple reason that the island volcanic and is covered by black rock, the result of ancient eruptions, the last of which occurred about 45,000 years ago.

Although it is an island with a moderate to warm climate, tourists do not flock to Pantelleria to enjoy its magnificent beaches, for the simple reason that it doesn’t have any true magnificent beaches. To enjoy the Mediterranean waters you need to clamber across rocks, volcanic rocks which can be quite sharp and difficult to move across, but people still make the effort in order to float in a clear rock pool or to enjoy the snorkelling, which is a popular pursuit.

Some of the most popular attractions for snorkelers and divers are the marine caves that are reasonably accessible, and are relatively easy to explore as the waters are quite clear. If getting under the water isn’t an option, day cruises around the island are also popular with visitors.

With evidence of there being 47 small volcanoes having erupted on the island over time, and with geothermal activity still occurring, one of the principle reasons for visiting Pantelleria is to enjoy and to rejuvenate in the island’s thermal waters.

Although there are some very upmarket spas on the island offering a range of exotic and therapeutic treatments, visitors do have the alternative of finding a natural thermal pool where you can just relax in the warm waters and enjoy great views of the Mediterranean.

The island’s cuisine is also an attraction, particularly as it reflects both the Arab and Italian influences on the island. Fusion dishes such as fish couscous are worth trying, and the island produces staples such as aubergine, olives, capers and flavoured ricotta cheese.

Pantelleria is also well known for its wines, which tend to be sweet as the best growing grape on the island is the zibbibo which producers a Muscat-style wine; with the two best locally-produced wines being Moscato di Pantelleria and Moscato Passito di Pantelleria.

You can reach Pantelleria by boat from Trapani in Sicily, and there are flights from both Palermo and Trapani, and direct flights from Rome and Milan. Summer is the most popular time to visit Pantelleria, when there is an increase in transport to the island, but summer is also the most expensive time to visit. If you visit at other times of the years, not only will your costs be cheaper, but you will have less crowds to encounter, and more opportunities to relax.

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