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The Paelagian Islands - Sicily

These islands surrounded by the deep sea separating Sicily (225 km) and Tunisia (100 km) take their name from the Greek word "pèlagos" (sea). Europe's southernmost point is Capo Maluk of Lampedusa at a latitude of 35°30' North. This latitude explains the typically "African" climate and environment of the three Paelagian Islands: Lampedusa, Linosa and Lampione (province of Agrigento). From a historical point of view, these islands experienced the same events as the other Sicilian islands: Phoenicians, Punics, Romans, Normans and Saracens succeeded one another before the island became part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

From a historical point of view, these islands experienced the same events as the other Sicilian islands: Phoenicians, Punics, Romans, Normans and Saracens succeeded one another before the island became part of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies. After having been almost totally abandoned by its population, the isle of Lampedusa was re-populated in 1843. There is also an interesting geological curiosity: out of this group of islands only Linosa has volcanic origins. 

Lampedusa

This small (20 km2 ) calcareous island, scorched by the hot sun all year round and characterised by its African-type landscapes and by the "dammusi" (stone houses), is surrounded by the most transparent Mediterranean waters. The main attraction of Lampedusa is the great solitude of this island, lost between the coasts of Sicily and Tunisia, and the strong contrast between the aridity of its land, covered with Indian figs, agaves, carobs and low bushy scrub on one hand, and the sharp colours of an extremely crystal-clear sea on the other. This island breaks away from the mainland just in front of the cove bearing the same name and which is populated by sea turtles (Caretta caretta) that use its beach to continue the life-cycle of this protected species. Beyond Capo Ponente the coast becomes higher and rougher: it reaches a remarkable height behind the Grotta and the Scoglio del Sacramento where it falls perpendicularly into the underlying dark-blue sea. The highest part of the island is Monte Alberosole, 133 m.

 
Lampione

The "lampione" (lamp-post) is a 1.2 km2 uninhabited crag with a lighthouse and lies 20 miles from Lampedusa. This solitary condition makes it an extremely romantic place in the middle of the populated Mediterranean sea. It can be reached only from Lampedusa. 

 
Linosa

Linosa is not bigger than a crag (5 km2) and it is the only Paelagian Island created by a volcano. Its origin and its land of scoriae, lapilli (pozzolanas) and lava flows that reach the sea are the cause of both the island's extremely peculiar conformation (along the coastline and inside the island) and of its low but sometimes thick vegetation composed of lentiscus, euphorbiae, sealilies, carobs, mulberries and grapes. Lampione is higher than Lampedusa (Monte Vulcano, 195 metres; Monte Rosso, 186m.; Monte Nero, 106m.: these are the peaks of three old volcanic systems still recognisable by the visible crater edges) and populated by numerous species of seabird. The sea represents the island's major richness: colours, transparency, seabeds teeming with fish, madrepores and sea-sponges. The populated area is represented by a little village dominated by the typically African-styled "dammusi". These houses are based on basic and very old cube-shapes brightened up with lively lime-colours that create the image of a seaside-nativity scene. 

Food & Wine
In any trattoria or restaurant you can begin with fished-based starters:
cozze (mussels), calamari, gamberetti (shrimps), sgombri, sardine, alici cooked in various ways are always present. First dishes normally bring the real taste of mediterranean cuisin: pasta con sarde, linguine ai frutti di mare, risotto alla Marinara, spaghetti agli scampi, spaghetti alla Bottarga. Second dish is inevitably a fish, normally cooked on a grid or in oven: trancio di Pescespada (swordfish), calamari alla griglia, orata , branzino, dentice, cernia and all traditional mediterranean fishes are always served and cooked in a very simple way and they are usually accompanied with simple vegetables, that normally are imported daily from Sicily. If you like, you can taste some of typical sicilian sweet dessert wines. Passito is the most known one.

 

For more information:
AAPIT Agrigento - Local Tourist Board
Viale della Vittoria 255 - 92100 Agrigento ITALY
 

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