name, of greek origin, literally translates as ‘High-Sea
Islands’. They lie about 200km off the coast of Agrigento,
between Malta and Tunisia. The archipelago comprises Lampedusa,
the main island with a surface area of 33 square kilometres, and
the two smaller Linosa and Lampione. The latter, desert and only
accommodating a lighthouse, with its steep walls plunging to 60m
depth and uncontaminated sea-floors, is a real paradise for divers
The island of Lampedusa consists of a flat limestone
platform which culminates, at the northern end, in a series of
dramatic cliffs. The south coast, on the other hand, is jaggedly
rugged as headlands alternate with small, precipitous creeks sheltering
to Africa than it is to Italy, the island is surrounded by a spectacular
seascape, with incredible colors ranging from transparent-blue,
to turquoise and emerald-green. On the island there is no farming
activity, its soil being white, dry and stony, much alike a desert.
The residents mostly live on tourism and fishing, as a considerable
flight anchored at its sheltered harbor will testify. Discoveries
across the territory attest to human settlements on Lampedusa
dating from the Bronze Age. In 1843, the island belonged to the
aristocratic Lampedusa family (one of its members, Giuseppe Tomasi,
was the author of the celebrated novel The Leopard) and was successively
acquired by King Ferdinand who had a penitentiary built and sent
a handful of people to reside there.
Lampedusa is a paradise for snorkelers and divers
who can enjoy a rich and unspoiled submerged world inhabited by
corals, sponges, madrepores, the colored parrot-fish and, by Capo
Grecale at only 50m depth, the lobster. Its mostly sandy sea-ground
suddenly turns into a dark-green due to the posidonia, a marine
plant that is known as the Mediterranean lung for its releasing
oxygen in the water, giving life to beautiful underwater plains.
The only city on Lampedusa, bearing the island’s
same name, develops around the main Roma street, notably crowded
at breakfast time and at night, it hosting a cluster of shops
and cafés with outdoor tables, where, in the summer, live
music or entertainment shows take place.
of the Island
A boat tour of the island can be easily reserved
at the harbor where lots of boats are available at cheap prices.
The tour usually departs at 10.00am and returns at 5.00pm.
The low and jagged coast of Lampedusa is rich
in inlets and bays; among these, is the Tabaccara, a splendid
bay bathed by turquoise waters. The northern shore features a
high cliff with plenty of impressing caves. Past the Baia della
Madonnina (that got its name because of a rock that resembles
the Virgin Mary) is the Sacramento Cliff, with a deepest grotto.
In the North-Eastern end, known as Capo Grecale, is a lighthouse
visible from up to 60 miles away, where extends a beautiful view
of the coastal landscape. Then is the Grotta del Teschio (the
Skull Grotto), hiding a 15m long sandy-beach, reachable by boat
or along a rough path at right. Tourists are advised to hire a
bike or a mini-truck for a driving tour since roads of the island
are partly unpaved. From the centre of Lampedusa head eastwards
for the airport. The unpaved road running alongside the landing
strip passes by the many bays on the Southern side of the Island.
del Sole – (the Sun Tree) So is called the highest point
on Lampedusa (about 133m a.s.l.), where stands a circular structure
preserving a wooden crucifix. There, from a stone wall at the
edge of a steep slope, you can enjoy a dramatic sight of the sea.
Tourists are recommended to be extremely careful when near the
edge. Returning to the semi-asphalted road you will see an area
of recent reafforestation. At the end of the enclosing wall, follow
the path soon leading to a small iron cross. On your right, a
promontory offers an enchanting view of the Sacramento Cliff.
From here, the small Lampione Island is visible, on the left,
in the distance. Return to the main road and continue southward
to the Rabbit Island’s Bay.
of the Isola dei Conigli – This broad bay is petticoated
with white cliffs and the most beautiful beach on the island;
few metres offshore nestles a little islet. The beach, with its
finest sand, gently slopes to transparent waters that splendidly
turn to turquoise and emerald green. Here the Caretta-Caretta
turtle lays her eggs during the breeding season, an event today
threatened by the big influx of tourists staying late at night
when she usually comes ashore for nesting.
Further, here is the only habitat in Italy for
the psammodromus algarus, a particular type of striped lizard
native to North-Western Africa, namely Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco.
di Porto Salvo – It is a small shrine of ancient unknown
date and origin surrounded by a beautiful garden.
How to reach Lampedusa – The simplest way
to reach Lampedusa is by plane, it being well-served by connections
from Palermo and, in the summer months, by directs flights from
Milan, Bergamo, Rome, Venice and Verona. A ferry service is also
available from Agrigento. Since this arrives late at night, tourists
may encounter problems to overnight, unless they have or hire
to buy – The island’s natural sponges are a favorite
souvenir for tourists. Whiter sponges, albeit attracting, may
result from a chemical treatment that shortens their life span.
The darker ones will definitely last longer. Linosa is especially
renowned for food “souvenirs”, like lentils and pomodorini,
and for its reed-baskets, much appreciated by tourists.
for dinner? – On the island are many small restaurants and
trattorias specialized in fish dishes, among which is a not-to-miss
couscous. The Trattoria-Pizzeria Da Nicola, by the Rabbit Islands’s
Bay is especially recommended.