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YACHT CHARTER IN THE EGADI ISLANDS

Close to the mainland coast and away from the trading routes, these islands lying to the west of Sicily, have preserved their unspoiled and superb environment

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Nautica Magazine 413, September 1996


AMONG TUNAFISHES AND GRAFFITI

Egadi Islands

As for the entire coastal stretch, its history is full of landings and invasions. Phoenicians, after the Paleolithic age, elected them as their trading home port. The Romans had them for a long time, followed by the horrible Saracen invasion soon replaced by the Norman's domination under the constant threat from the Turkish piracy. Spaniards, followed by Borbons, who arrived in more (relatively) modern times, have left their deep mark so easily detectable both in the architecture and the islands' inhabitants.

Egadi Islands The largest, the most populated and the closest to the mainland is Favignana, which is crossed in a north-south direction by a hilly ridge named Montagna Grossa (Large Mountain). The island has two ports: Cala Principale is the main one and is made of a 110 meters long wharf, with inside berths, at the foot of which a smaller dock has been installed. A smaller pier is available at the wharf's center. Water depth is not available thus boats with draft exceeding 2 meters should exercise caution. Land falling is required with winds from the first and fourth quadrant, especially during the tuna-fishing season which is in force from April to June and when numerous floats are positioned in the area. Pleasure boats have their berth in a 50 meters long dock in front of Marina square and on the inner northern side of the main dock where a space of 60 meters about is available. Yachts with LOA over 25 meters can dock at the main dock portion open to the north-west. About one hundred berths are available, with sandy, rocky and algae bottoms. Predominant winds blow from the first quadrant and shelter can be found either at Cala Rossa, or between Longa and Fanfalo points. Longa point in particular, on the southern coast, offers natural shelter to small boats up to 7 meters LOA, which is very busy in the summer.

Egadi Islands Florio palace stands prominently on arrival. It was built in the second half of the nineteen century by a trading family from Palermo which bought the entire archipelago and acquired all fishing rights. In that period tuna-fishing knew its largest expansion, and was probably the only one permanently operating in Sicily. In the seventeen century. under the Spanish rule, tuna-fishing was one of the most important in the Mediterranean, both for fish quality and finish products which were exported the world over. Outside the urban area, landscape is spotted with pastures and cultures, separated by a close net of stone walls. The only sign of population is the presence of small whitewashed houses surrounded by rare indian fig and palm threes. The island's real attraction however are the tuff caves, a building stone mined there so aptly called "Favignana"; less and less used today for building purposes, its softness was in the past exploited for sculpturing as well. Rock so mined form deep chasms and dry basins.

Levanzo island, surrounded by Pizzo Monaco steeply following to the sea, is nearby. Docking is available at Cala Dogana and is made of a dog-leg breakwater 80 meters long, adjacent to a small dock and the hydrofoil landing. Berths with two to four meters water depth are available for about fifth-teen boats up to 10 meters LOA. The island attraction called "Grotta del Genovese" is a true paradise for pre-historical fans. Bones and petrified trees are everywhere, together stone engraving and drawings going back more than 10000 years to the phaleolitic and neolithic eras, all of them exceptionally well preserved. A painter in search of subjects, discovered them in 1949. Animals and dancers painted in bright red and black, are represented. Getting to the "Grotta del Genovese" is however difficult even donkey riding, as suggested by the local guides.

Egadi Islands Marettimo, the third main island, is entirely different: surrounded as it is by Falcone mountain, 700 meters high, which gives a totally different out line to the island. Its distance from the two mainland ports, Trapani and Marsala, is the same and the short passage warrants an exclusive visit. An ensemble of Dolomite stones thrown in the crystal clear Sicilian waters with deep vertical cuts reaching the sea, the steep gorges followed by impressive rock towers is the natural frame to a series of superb caves with multicolored stalagmites. Notable among them are the cave of the nativity the Perciata and the Bombarda, where diving is easy and tropical fishes can be seen. Inland, climbing to Falcone mountain is a must where trough a path, a twelve century chapel and the remnants of Roman housing can be visited. Fish hawks and wild rabbits have their habitat there. On the sea side, however and very unfortunately seals have nowadays disappeared following the uncontrolled hunting that took place especially in the Camel cave. The old and new docks are the only two landings in Marettimo. The former is reserved to boats of no more than 4 meters LOA, the latter has a wharfage 200 meters long, berths fifteen 14 meters LOA boats on water depth between 3 and 6 meters. Eastern winds are predominant with Cala Cretazzo distant two miles and water depth of 15 meters is a good alternative.

Real paradise the Egadi archipelago requires its time to be savored, sailing the seas of the south Sicilian coast.

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