Cossyra, “the land of the myrtle branch”, for the Romans; Bent el Rion, “the daughter of the wind”, for the Arabs and last, Pantelleria, “the land of offers” for the Byzantine: many of them, from the Phoenician times onwards, have taken advantage of the strategic position of the island, leaving behind traces of their transition.
The traditional homes in Pantelleria are Arab: the “dammusi”, built with dry lava stones, have a domed roof that works as rainwater collector, heading to a tank.
Even the names of the locations are Arab: Khamma (where the hemp is grown), Bukkuram (father rich of vineyards), Mursìa (harbour contrada). Surnames are Spanish, like Errera or Valenza. Norman are the blue eyes and bland hair that some Pantescan proudly show off.
The damage of World War II over Pantelleria town
Unfortunately, the town that carries the name of the island, lost most of its beauty due the heavy bombardments during Second World War and as a consequence of a reckless re- building of it.
After the capitulation of the Nazi-Fascist forces in Northern Africa between the 11th and the 12th of May 1943, the Allies prepared their invasion in Italy. The Anglo-Americans begun few months before by intensifying their bombings over the peninsula, especially in the South of Italy; on the 9th of May the start the operations towards Pantelleria, the most important and strategic island, that was used as a base port for the Allies and also as a landing spot that would have given the Allies an air base near the future landings in Sicily.
Pantelleria was bombed from the 9th of May until the 6th of June from the RAF planes and was isolated by a naval blockade. After a month, the bombings intensified using the Royal naval forces to support: on the 8th of June, three torpedo boats bombarded, for the first from the sea, the ports and shore artilleries. More than 5000 tons of bombs were dropped since the 8th of May.
While the rest of the island…
If the town has yet recovered from the damages, the rest of the island offers charming views and archaeological ruins spread all over the territory. The Sesi is one of the most evocative locations: they are funeral monuments from a Neolithic civilisation dating back 5000 years. There are many small churches that treasure precious statues of Saints and Virgins as witnesses of the faith of the island.
The beaches and Nature masterpieces
The beaches have names that remind us of pirates and sirens: Balata dei Turchi, Karuscia, Cala Cinque Denti, Punta Spadillo. In Cala Levante you can find a Nature’s masterpiece: the Elephant Arch, a pachyderm-shaped stone with a huge nose, carved by the wind and the sea, which has become the symbol of the island.
In Sataria, there’s a big cave with thermal waters: some relate it to Calypso and where Ulysses waited for a long a time. The most exclusive spots can be reached only by boat, giving the opportunity to admire the jagged structure of the coastline. In some rocks you may find small pools, with gorgeous colours and reflexes: you can even swim in the Laghetto delle Ondine, even if it’s bad weather.
The volcanic nature of the island
You can perfectly feel the volcanic nature of the island. There are many and surprising events of volcanic nature. There are many natural caves where hot steam and high temperatures make it ideal for having a sauna bath; for example, Benikulá Cave, located on a side of the Montagna Grande, in Sibà. You can reach it walking through a path that offers an amazing view of Tikhirrìki Valley.
Venus Lake, located at the north of the island, is a beautiful lake, with clear blue waters: according to the ancients, its sulphurous waters would benefit the fertility and its mud is rich substances beneficial for the skin.
The Montagna Grande, Mount Gibele and the surrounding hills, covered with pines, holm-oak, heather, blackberries and arbutus berry forests, full of edible mushrooms; they can offer a great opportunity to those who love hiking and trekking