Off the coast of Palermo, about 70 km away from Sicilian coast, you’ll find a small paradise: the island of Ustica. Landscape is breathtaking, the caves that draw its profile and the cliffs are part of its natural heritage.
Archaeological excavations describe the past of this island where different Mediterranean peoples make this territory called ‘home’; nowadays it is a tourist destination where you can enjoy the blue of the sea and its unpolluted views. Let’s go to discover this island with Sicilian Secrets!
Like Venus, it was born from the foam of the sea: this is Ustica, one of the gems of the Tyrrhenian Sea where you can get lost in beauty. The reasons to visit this island can be different, those who love nature can be seduced by the colors of the marine reserve, those who want to plunge into the history will have the opportunity to venture into the past of this place…and then there are many activities, good food and the warmth of the population.
Let’s dive into the sea
The sea is the essence of Ustica, it is here that the first Marine Protected Area in Italy was founded. Uniqueness is the key: divers can discover a treasure trove of Mediterranean fauna and flora that paint the seabed, so take note of some truly surprising points of interest. First of all, stop at Punta Galera, where at about 37 meters deep the Grotta dei Gamberi is located. As the name suggests (‘Gamberi’ means shrimps), this is the home of these crustaceans.
Then we find the Scoglio Medico where you can even spot some barracudas! Professional divers (preferably if they have an advanced patent) can delve into the abysses of Punta dell’Arpa. Intense blue and shades of red gorgonians. Finally, to visit the Grotta delle Cipree can be really suggestive, especially when you see stalactites and aerial roots that ‘travel’ towards the water.
Ustica and history
This could be the beginning of the tale of Ustica. This islet concentrates a sort of museum in a few square kilometers. Visitors will be surprised to see the amount of archaeological finds found not only on land but also underwater. From the studies carried out, the presence of settlements since the Paleolithic is clear: the Prehistoric Village of the Faraglioni with circular huts defended by a wall built during the Bronze Age is one of the evidences. Then the Phoenicians came, the Greeks, the Carthaginians and the Romans arrived later; the Romans are those who chose the name ‘Ustica’ from ‘ustum’, that means burnt. To get to know the past of these places even better, it is worth making a stop at the ‘Padre Carmelo Seminara’ Municipal Archaeological Museum where household furnishings, obsidian tools and various jewelry found in the Village of the Faraglioni are collected.
What to do in Ustica
Dimensione Sicilia brings travelers to Ustica with their 100% personalized tours. Everyone can give their holiday the style they want and experience many activities once they reach their destination. Without a doubt, a boat ride is a must because it allows you to get excited in front of the lights and shades of the caves spread along the coast: the Blue Grotto, the Green Grotto, the Golden Grotto and the Pastizza Grotto are simply stunning.
Those who are ‘sporty’ and love to walk cannot miss trekking in nature to learn the secrets of the native species that populate Ustica Island Reserve. The paths follow gentle slopes, the blue sky is stained with the orange of the sunsets and it is during the Golden Hour that you fall madly in love with this island. The Sentiero del Mezzogiorno, the Sentiero del Bosco and the Rocca della Falconiera with its late Roman necropolis cannot be missing from your itinerary.
If you want to do something really curious, why not jump on the back of a donkey? Riding this cute animal, you can go around the streets of the ancient village or the paths. Fun is guaranteed, even for children! Alternatively, you can ride bicycles, but beware: flat ways are mixed with challenging climbs and descents.
Last but not least…food!
A typical delicacy, as well as a Slow Food Presidium, are the famous (and very good) Lentils of Ustica. As well as, a specialty to be tasted is the Usticese pizza made with tomato sauce, anchovies, garlic and breadcrumbs. And to toast the success of a perfect holiday, fill your glasses with passito, the pride and joy of the wine production of this Sicilian island.