Pantelleria: The island of capers and calypso

The fields of Pantelleria

The Sicilian island of Pantelleria is home to sweet Zebibbo wine, salty capers, Homeric myths, natural hot springs and saunas, and ancient Arab damusso houses for rent

Why Pantelleria?

Forty-three miles east of Tunisia—and sixty-two miles south of Sicily, of which it is ostensibly a part—the tiny island of Pantelleria is the black pearl of the Mediterranean.

Pantelleria is hot, dry, and windswept. Its name derives from the Arabic Bent al-rion, “Daughter of the Winds,” and its gardens snuggle behind high lava-rock walls designed to keep the stiff sea breezes from salting the citrus trees and vegetable patches.

But, as an active volcano (last eruption: 1891), Pantelleria also has rich soil and is lush with cultivated greenery and renowned for its sweet Zebibbo wines and the world's finest capers.

In fact, scholars peg it as Ogygia, the mythical island of plenty where Odysseus dallied for seven years with the nymph Calypso.

Visitors continue to be seduced by this hush-hush celebrity hotspot; Armani and Depardieu both have houses here, and in recent years Madonna, Sting, Julia Roberts, and Martin Scorsese have all stayed in damussi on Pantelleria.

Despite the quiet rush of A-list celebs, Pantelleria remains relatively unspoiled. This is the Mediterranean as it used to be, where ziggurat-like prehistoric burial tumuli rise above terraced vineyards, volcanic steam creates natural cave saunas, and locals and visitors alike celebrate the simple pleasures of sea, sun, and village life.

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How long?

2–4 days » more

Hotels on Pantelleria
Best way to to get there

Pantelleria is an isolated island in the southern Mediterranean 100km (62 miles) south of Sicily (and just 70km/43 miles east of Tunisia). Flying (from Trapani or Palermo) is faster than, more convenient than, and can be just as cheap as the hydrofoil (from Mazara del Vallo) or ferry (from Trapani). » more

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