Pantelleria - still here
Today we took the opportunity to explore a bit of the island on our trusty folding bikes. We hadn’t heard of this place until we found it conveniently placed on our charts between Africa and Sicily, but of course it has a colourful history as many peoples have discovered its strategic location over the millennia. The cycling was quite strenuous as the island is volcanic and all ups and downs. We did see lots of the little houses called dammusi which started life when the Arabs lived here as buildings which collected rain on their roofs and then funnelled it down into a cistern below. Later they were enlarged to become rural houses and now many have been converted into holiday cottages! They are constructed of the local black stone and you can see the evidence of the lava flows from past eruptions. Apparently the island is quite sort after by some of the more discriminating big celebs such as Depardieu and Armani!
We also saw plenty of vines growing the muscat grape variety called Zibibbo which produces the local sweet wine called Passito. There were wonderful wildflowers and we were excited to spot a flock of bee-eaters. The only downside was the lack of a convenient hostelry en route as it is so early in the season that nothing is open yet so we didn’t get our reviving beer. The island has several thermal springs that bubble up around the coast and there is even a natural sauna in a rock cleft on a ridge of the main mountain. I love the idea of drifting around in extra warm and medicinal waters but April is still a bit early for that unfortunately.
Pantelleria: volcanic scenery, wild flowers & “Elephant arch” (you need to ignore the flare at the end of its trunk!):
PS we planned to leave for Sicily today, but woke to a big swell entering the harbour from big seas offshore. We had a rough night with the locals making merry until 2 and then the boat surging about against the harbour wall, so we were tired before we even started. The forecast has changed to stronger winds – so here for another day then!