Pantelleria, a Dream Italian Island: An Insider’s Guide
We love getting the inside track on a destination from a member of the Further Afield collection of gay friendly places to stay. This time Sergio from the stunning Tenuta Borgia gives us his view of Pantelleria. Just off the coast of Sicily it’s a little known but incredibly beautiful island – you might recognise it from the 2016 film A Bigger Splash.
An island with no beaches
Let’s face it: Pantelleria has no beaches! This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to sunbathe and swim at sea. In fact, you can explore a different coastal spot every day and dive in some the most crystal-clear waters of the Mediterranean. Tenuta Borgia is conveniently located between two great spots: the intimate Nikà harbour and the spectacular Balata dei Turchi, with its large flat rocks. Other beautiful destinations are Martingana and the famous Elephant Arch (below) and Laghetto delle Ondine. You’ll find many clothing optional areas around the island.
You can’t leave the island without a boat tour and a dive in the deep blue open sea or in one of the many caves only accessible from the water.
A free spa
You can think of Pantelleria as an open air Spa. Take a swim or soak in the bubbling sulphuric waters of Lo Specchio di Venere or Venus Mirror (below), a lake set in a volcanic caldera where you can also pamper your body with a free mud mask. For a steam bath, you can easily hike up in the mountain and enjoy a natural sauna at Bagno Asciutto: a small grotto with hot steams leading onto a terrace overlooking the beautifully cultivated Monastero valley. You can then complete you beauty treatment at splendid Cala Gadir; drive past Giorgio Armani’s summer getaway and reach the harbour of this picturesque fishing village where you’ll find a plunge pool with hot springs mixing with refreshing sea water.
A protected beauty
Pantelleria, which is the largest Sicilian island, is more than a sun and sea destination. In order to preserve the rugged beauty of its peculiar natural and rural landscape the island has been designated a “National Park” since 2016. Get on your trekking shoes and start exploring by yourselves or by joining a guided tour of the network of almost 120 km of footpaths crossing the island in every directions. Best trekking circuits include Montagna Grande, Monte Gibele, Favare and Punta Spadillo.
Inscribed in 2014 on the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, the traditional practice of cultivating head-trained bush vines (vite ad alberello) is transmitted through generations of vine growers and farmers. About 5,000 inhabitants own a plot of land, which they cultivate using sustainable methods.
Go for a wine tasting at one of the many wine makers in the island (Donnafugata, Coste Guirlanda, Salvatore Murana, Cantina Basile, Cantina d’Ancona, etc.) and be surprised by the variety of wines you can produce out of Zibibbo grapes (the local variety of Muscat). There’s much more than the iconic sweet Passito wine.
Top spots for sunset drinks and eating out
The golden hour of sunset is the best time for spotting the Tunisian coast. Sip an aperitif beneath the domed roofs of Sesiventi, a trendy bar in the archaeological area, or at Kaya Kayà, a chiringuito style bar at the port of Scauri.
The old village of Scauri also offers a variety of restaurants (La Nicchia, La Vela, Alta Marea or Osteria degli Artisti) and even a great cocktail bar open late: Curnutazzi!
We still haven’t mentioned the local speciality: capers! Arguably the best in the world. Chill out with a gin & tonic with capers flavoured Gin Gadir before going to bed under a sky full of stars.
Getting to Pantelleria
It’s remote, so don’t think it’s going to be the easiest journey, but the destination justifies the journey. Air and sea routes are available from mainland Italy and Sicily. Maybe combine it with a stay at another Further Afield member – Hotel Villa Ducale.