After writing the articles on Marettimo and Levanzo I could not close the circle with an article on Favignana, the largest and most touristic island of the archipelago.
Favignana is undoubtedly the most popular and well-known island of the Egadi Islands, it has many accommodation facilities and can be very crowded in August, but you just need to visit it at another time of the year to fall in love with it (trust me that I have been there both in the middle of winter than in June and August!).
Favignana has the shape of a butterfly, with the Monte Santa Caterina and its castle which dominate the western part of the island (the most inaccessible one) and a large barren plain on the eastern part. Unlike Marettimo and Levanzo, in fact there are no trees in Favignana (if you are looking for shade..forget it!) and the island is completely littered with limestone quarries, a stone similar to tuff. The quarries have been abandoned and are being exploited for tourism purposes; in fact, luxury hotels (such as the White Cave), gardens or swimming pools have been built inside them. There are also some truly spectacular underground quarries, but there are no "official" routes because they are not secured so ... you just have to find some local willing to take you to these magnificent places! Among those outdoors, the Labyrinth of Cave near Cala Rossa is definitely worth a visit.
Where is Favignana
How to reach Favignana and how to get around
From the airports of Trapani / Palermo to the pier of Trapani
To get to Favignana the most comfortable thing to do is to take a flight over Trapani (now there are few alas) or your Palermo (here instead you will have a lot of choice both as companies and as timetables). From the airport you will then have to reach the pier of Trapani to take the hydrofoil / ferry. Trapani airport is about 25 'from the hydrofoil dock and to reach it there is a bus or a taxi (fixed rate 30 euros). From Palermo airport it takes about 1 hour and you can take the bus (departures every hour until 16:00 pm, 10 euros), the shared taxi (to be booked with minimum 2 people, 22 euros per person via the website www.lanavetta .com) or private taxi (fixed rate 80 euros).
The hydrofoil from Trapani to Favignana
The hydrofoils / ferries to Favignana and the other Egadi islands are guaranteed by Liberty Lines and it is possible to buy tickets online through their website (which I recommend you do in high season, ie July and August). Find all timetables at this link. In general, in summer there are at least 6/7 hydrofoils per day while in winter 3/4. The journey takes 1h and costs 17,5 euros / person (price 2020).
How to get around in Favignana
Unlike Levanzo and Marettimo, in Favignana there is the possibility to rent a car, but it is highly discouraged! Much of the island is flat so it will be enough rent a scooter or a bike (normal or with pedal assistance) to be able to get around the island without problems. You will find several rental companies on the port, right in front of the hydrofoil dock.
What to see in Favignana
Former Florio factory (the tonnara)
Arriving in Favignana, the first thing that will appear in your eyes is a large sand-colored building. This is the old Florio trap, the historic tuna industry built in 1874 by Vincenzo Florio, the first great entrepreneur of the post-Bourbon south. The Florio family owns all the Egadi islands and built an empire by marketing sulfur derivatives first, then marsala and finally tuna, actually inventing canned tuna. In this regard, I recommend that you read the book "The lions of Sicily" which masterfully tells the whole story of this great family, I found it beautiful! The Favignana trap was one of the largest in the Mediterranean (3000 square meters) and was a kind of workers' citadel. The tonnara remained in operation until 1977, then abandoned for several years before being restored and partially open to the public. Inside today there is a museum dedicated to the fish industry of the Egadi, a place of memory and traditions of rais and tonnaroti (those who made the famous slaughter of tuna). The spaces are also used for exhibitions and events.
The Florio tonnara is open every day from 10am to 14pm and from 17pm to 21pm (from 1 April to the end of November), and it is possible participate in a guided tour (highly recommended!) which lasts 1h and costs 6 euros.
Village of Favignana
The village of the town winds around the small port designed by Giuseppe Damiani Almeyda (the architect of the Florio family who also designed the tonnara) and is made up of white and yellowish houses. In district S.Anna you will find the noble palaces of the end of the 800th century with wrought iron balconies, what remains of the old bourgeois residences of the employees of the tonnara. Above all it stands out Florio Palace, now the seat of the Tourist Office, the building built for Ignazio Florio, Vincenzo's son, in 1876. All around the poorest houses of the tonnaroti. As for Marettimo and Levanzo, even in Favignana there is in fact only one town (which can be defined as such).
Castle of Santa Caterina
Like Marettimo, Favignana also has its own Norman castle. The Castle of Santa Caterina it is located at the highest point of the island (Monte Santa Caterina, 310 meters) where a Saracen watchtower was originally built. The Normans, and to follow the Lord of Favignana Andrea Riccio, transformed and enlarged it to make it the fort we see today. Like the Castle of Punta Troia in Marettimo, this too was used as a prison in the Bourbon era and then as a military garrison before being completely abandoned until today. The castle can be visited freely but you will have to be very careful because it is not secured; the most beautiful thing from my point of view is the 360 ° panorama that can be enjoyed from up there, because the view ranges from Marettimo to Levanzo, up to Trapani, Erice and San Vito lo Capo. To reach the castle you will have to take the road that starts behind the ex-tonnara Florio and climb up the mountain. Up to a certain point you can also arrive by scooter or bike, but the last part must necessarily be done on foot because there is a zigzag staircase. Since there is no shade, at least in summer it is preferable to go there early in the morning or at sunset (bring water because there is nothing!).
Garden of the Impossible of Villa Margherita
Close to Villa Margherita apartments there is a fairy garden that you cannot miss. By reclaiming the quarries of Villa Margherita, the owner Maria Gabriella Campo has created this magnificent botanical garden. In addition to the large open-air quarry, cut with mechanical means and dating back to the 1950s-60s, he also brought to light some "gallery" and "cave" quarries dating back to the 700s and 800s and designed flowery paths. The Garden of the Impossible it extends for 40 thousand square meters and hosts about 200 different species including hibiscus, roses, figs, pomegranates, tropical plants, etc. The garden can be visited only through a paid guided tour with reservations required by writing to [email protected] or by calling 389 8048028. The garden is open every day (from May to October) and the duration of the visit is about 2 hours and 30 minutes (you can visit everything on foot).
Favignana: the most beautiful beaches and coves
The coasts of Favignana are made up of small bays designed by the wind and the work of man (such as the Bue Marino quarry for example) and there are almost no sandy beaches. Most of it is made of rock, but the colors of the water are really crazy! Among the most beautiful coves and beaches there are certainly:
- Praia beach: the city beach, of sand, next to the marina and in front of the ex-tonnara.
- Lido Burrone: small sandy stretch with shallow water where it is possible to rent deck chairs and umbrellas.
- Marasolo beach: small beach with shallow water, also perfect for children.
- Cliff of Cala Azzurra: low cliff with easy access and shallow water.
- Cala Grande: micro beach in front of the Punta Sottile lighthouse with easy access and suitable for everyone.
- Cala Rotonda: small natural harbor with super clear water. Perfect for sunset.
- Cala Rossa: the most famous and photographed of the island, a large bay carved into the tuff with emerald water.
- Good Marine: together with Cala Rossa my favorite, an abandoned quarry that forms some sort of terraces overlooking the sea.
- Punta Longa: small stretch of rocks hidden among the goiters.
Where sleeping in Favignana
Unlike Marettimo and Levanzo where there are, in fact, only small hotels spread in the old fishermen's houses, in Favignana the accommodation offer is much wider and ranges from campsites to luxury hotels. Here you will find my small selection:
- Imera B&B : small b & b in the center of the town (but in a quiet street even in high season!) recently renovated, very convenient both to reach and to move around.
- White Quarries : beautiful luxury hotel located inside an old tuff quarry. It is located near Cala Azzurra and Cala Rossa and is equipped with every comfort (swimming pool, whirlpool and so on and so forth!).
- Baglio del Piffero: 4 beautiful apartments in full Favignanese style with patio and garden view. They are located in the village behind the Cava Sant'Anna, in a super convenient position.
- Pilgrim's Nest : enchanting structure with private access to the sea (platforms and sunbeds included), set in a magnificent natural setting and away from the noise of the center.
- Cala di Pozzo residence : exclusive and wonderful location with refined furnishings and a beautiful sea view. It is located 2 steps from "Food and Wine Chat" (see below).
Where to eat in Favignana
- Mazzini coffee : the right place to have breakfast with the best granita on the island.
- Bar del Corso: excellent fried cassatelle (on the spot) filled with ricotta and chocolate. In the evening it also offers restaurant service.
- The Pastry: pastry that makes both sweet and savory, all good from pastries to arancine etc.
- Kebabberia di Tonno : sandwiches with tuna in all sauces for a quality quick lunch.
- U cuoppu: Sicilian street food. Excellent shells of fried seafood (but you can also find the famous sandwich with spleen).
- Food Chat Wine : crazy location outside the town to have an aperitif overlooking the sea at sunset.
- Formica Osteria: my favorite place!! A perfect combination of flavors created by the Sicilian chef Federica Figliomeni and the Japanese chef Taka. Seafood of course!
- La Bettola: historic family-run trattoria. Open for more than 30 years, it focuses on fish couscous, tuna meatballs and grilled fish.
Quick questions and answers
You might also be interested in these other articles I wrote about Sicily:
- Western Sicily: 3 days between Marsala, Mazara, Selinunte, Segesta and Gibellina
- What to see in Palermo in 3 days
- What to see in Catania and surroundings
- Where to eat in Palermo
- Marettimo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- Levanzo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
- 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily