Pantelleria – Some First Impressions

In June 2018 we spent two wonderful weeks on Pantelleria, a small island somewhere south of Sicily and not too far from the coast of Tunisia. It’s a rugged, windswept, unique and beautiful island that remains relatively unknown and untouched by tourism.

The island is not easy to reach. There is a small airport with flights from several Italian airports during the summer months. There are also a couple of ferries from Sicily that you can take to Pantelleria. No matter which mode of transportation you chose, you will have to put in some time and effort into getting there. It is worth it.

Pantelleria itself is so tiny that driving around the island on its main road – a small and curvy narrow road lined with wild fennel, cacti, and wild oat – will take you only about 45 minutes. There are a few villages on the island. The biggest conglomeration of houses is Pantelleria village – home to the harbor, the airport, the only two gas stations on the island, some grocery stores, two ice cream shops and not much else of interest.

Most of the island, however, is characterized by nature and “Dammusi”, small domed houses that are typical for Pantelleria and blend perfectly into the landscape.

Pantelleria, Italy | KTINKA
Pantelleria, Italy | KTINKA

There is no supermarket or commercial center on the island. Instead, you can buy convenience goods, wine, and local produce at a handful of stores around the island. Life on Pantelleria is simple, frugal, pragmatic and probably different to what you are used to at home. But, to me, it was exactly what made this vacation so very relaxing.

What Pantelleria lacks in infrastructure and long sandy beaches it makes up in stunning landscape and nature. The island’s volcanic origin is present all around the island. You can hike up on the volcanoes and there are plenty of spots where hot steam or water leaves the ground.

The coastline is made of volcanic rock. At some points, it drops from dramatic heights to reveal layers of rock and sediments. Against the backdrop of the deep blue sea, they almost seem like works of art. In other spots, the waves crush against dark black boulders and melted lava.

Pantelleria, Italy | KTINKA
Pantelleria, Italy | KTINKA

In between those rocks, you will find beautiful, quaint bays and rock pools where you can plunge into the sea. Most of them are a bit hard to reach, but as a reward for your hike or a breakneck drive down dirt roads, you will encounter only a handful or no people at all. Do remember to bring some bottled water and a snack if you plan for a day by the sea, as there are no beach-bars or vendors around. Also, swimming shoes will come in handy as you make your way down the warm, black rocks and into the water.

If you need a break from the rocky coast, head to the only sandy beach on Pantelleria, the “Specchio di Venere” a spectacular lake in a volcanic caldera. Thermal springs of temperatures between 50 and 60 degrees feed the lake, and the greenish mud from the grounds of the lake is perfect for a free body mask.

Pantelleria, Italy | KTINKA
Pantelleria, Italy | KTINKA

There are many other things to do and explore on Pantelleria and I still have so many stories to tell, but for today I will leave it at this first impression. More posts about my favorite spots and some more stories from this little gem in the Mediterranean and many more pictures will follow – just bear with me.

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