'the setting for my next escape'
People are always asking me... where am I going next in Italy?… where haven’t I explored? One place that always comes to mind is Pantelleria and after seeing it in all its glory in director Luca Guadagnino’s new movie A Bigger Splash, I couldn’t be more inquisitive.
Positioned south of Sicily’s most western point, Pantelleria is closer to Tunisa than Sicily and has a distinctive personality. Renowned as ‘the black pearl of the Mediterranean’ this remote volcanic island is Sicily’s largest and is one of the Mediterranean’s least known holiday destinations - very much loved by celebrities desiring a secluded escape.
If your idea of Italian holiday perfection is less lying on a beach and more pottering around the coastline in a little boat, then you would be in heaven. The coastline is an intoxicating mix of gentle and dramatic. Although devoid of beaches this rugged island boasts breath taking 300 metre cliffs, tranquil caves, turquoise grottos and therapeutic natural hot springs. The most notable coastal feature though would have to be, ‘the arc of the elephant’ – an iconic rock formation that distinctly resembles an elephant drinking from the sea. This unique natural wonder has very much become the island’s unofficial symbol.
If it’s wildlife you’re craving Pantelleria sea life is in abundance. The bountiful unpolluted waters provide home to a great variety of marine life including pods of dolphins and monk seals making scuba diving and snorkeling a popular past time for holiday makers. Pantelleria’s magical waters don’t just lie on the coastline, rent a moped and head to ‘Specchio de Venere’ (Venus’s lake) a lake formed in an extinct volcanic crater, the locals believe a swim in its therapeutic waters is best enjoyed under the moonlight.
Pantelleria’s unique personality also shines through in its cuisine which although Italian is strongly influenced by its proximity to Africa. Amongst the fresh fish, capers and delicious local pasta dishes you will find fish cous cous and enjoy ‘passito di pantelleria’ a characterful sweet wine made from zibibbo grapes originally from North Africa.
Above all, I think yet again, what draws me to Pantelleria is the idea of a 'lifestyle' ... even if borrowed for a few weeks. I only have to see an image of one of those traditional ‘Dammuso’ and I am transported. I am already setting the table for lunch, already opening the shutters of my room, already enjoying that sunset… already booking that flight!
For a Pantelleria experience closer to home be sure to see Luca Guadagnino’s ‘A Bigger Splash’ released March 24th.
Words credited to Julie Adams. Images credited to the very beautiful Tenuta Borgia