Marettimo (Egadi islands): how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep

Who I am
Pau Monfort
@paumonfort
SOURCES CONSULTED:

wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

Le Egadi islands are one of the least known and most unspoiled archipelagos in spain and those few who know them often only know Favignana, the largest and most touristic island of the three. Although they are very comfortable to reach (they are very close to the Trapani coast), so far they have remained out of mass tourism and this has undoubtedly been their luck because they have managed to maintain their traditions and their authenticity. I myself had visited Favignana several times in recent years but had never been to either Levanzo nor a Marettimo: shame on me!!



Marettimo is a completely different island from the other two, is mountainous and very green, thanks to numerous underground springs, and is of a disarming beauty. Arriving by hydrofoil you can see a large mountain with a patch of white houses on the coast, more or less in the middle of the island. Approaching, you then begin to see Punta Troia, surmounted by the magnificent Norman castle, and the country, the only one on the island, is increasingly delineated.

Where is Marettimo

From the latter mainly paths, ancient mule tracks and 2 dirt roads branch off: it can be safely said that Marettimo is a car free island (there are only very few jeeps authorized to drive) and this makes it even more fascinating for me. The town is very nice, all white houses with blue window frames and the people who live here all year round are not even 150. In summer, however, the island welcomes about 1000 visitors, an elite tourism (especially in high season) consisting mainly of the middle (and upper) class of Palermo and Sicily, politicians, stylists, and actors and foreigners (but also French, Germans, Americans ...) who have become fond of the island and keep coming back Year after year. It is a worldly island, but whoever comes here is certainly not who wants to be seen, far from it.



In spring and autumn the island then becomes a land of discovery for European hikers who come for its beautiful trails.

Marettimo is the kingdom of nature, the island is surrounded by largest marine reserve in Europe but there is also the high, solemn, austere mountain, which in some parts of the island even recalls the Dolomites.

To visit Marettimo the boat is essential, as is the guide of an expert local boatman. We were lucky enough to be able to do a complete tour of the island with Pietro di Visit Marettimo and it was absolutely a plus. With his boat he made us discover every single centimeter of coast, making impossible maneuvers in the many caves of the island and telling us the story of every cove, cave or beach we saw and I think that only in this way can we really understand the true essence of island (Visit Marettimo organizes many activities on the island, but I will talk about this a few paragraphs below).  

How to reach Marettimo

From Trapani / Palermo airports to the pier

To get to Marettimo 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 (departure every hour until 16:00 pm, 10 euros), the shared taxi (to be booked with minimum 2 people, 22 euros per person www.lanavetta.com) or by private taxi (fixed rate 80 euros).



The hydrofoil / ferry to Marettimo

The hydrofoils / ferries to Marettimo 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 the hydrofoil stops first in Favignana and Levanzo (cost 17,5 euros / person).

Where to sleep in Marettimo: a widespread hotel

Among the beautiful things about Marettimo is the fact that there are no hotels (classically understood); there is a single "widespread hotel" obtained from the converted fishermen's houses, all with whitewashed walls and blue windows, which are very reminiscent of some islands of Greece. I slept in a beautiful villa with patio and garden just outside the town (and in front of the sea) managed by Visit Marettimo (mail: [email protected], Tel. 3488102186), but the solutions are different. Since there is only one town on the island, there is no problem of the area to choose .. all the rooms and apartments are always and in any case a few steps from the marina and everything is within easy reach (and on foot). Among the "structures" that I recommend are:

  • Giulia & Pietro Apartments 
  • Santa Cruz House
  • Cala del Porto
  • Beach House 
  • The Shells
  • Alma House 
  • The Coral

Watch the video of the beauties of Marettimo

What to do / see in Marettimo

Norman castle of Punta Troia

Il Punta Troia castle it will be one of the first things your eyes will land on when you arrive on the island. It is perched on the top of the small promontory of Punta Troia and from there you can see the whole east coast of the island. Born as a watchtower in the Saracen era, it was transformed into a real castle around 1140 by Roger II to guard the western end of the Kingdom of Sicily. Then there was the Swabian Angevin and Aragonese domination and the castle passed from hand to hand. Only in the eighteenth century the island began to be inhabited on a permanent basis and the castle came used as a prison for political prisoners until 1844, before being completely abandoned. The castle was recently renovated (with many difficulties, being right over the sea) and now houses the Prison Museum  (it is possible to see the pits where the prisoners were) and the“Monk Seal” Observatory of the Marine Protected Area. The visit is absolutely not to be missed!



The castle is open from May until October; in May and October it is open only from Friday to Sunday 10: 30-16, while from June to September it is open every day 10: 30-18. Admission is free and also includes a guided tour. To reach it you can go on foot (there is a nice path that starts from the old port (1h and 30 ') or by boat (10 euros / person). Under the castle you can then stop for a swim in the beautiful beach of Scalo Master.

Roman houses

With a walk of about 40 ', always starting from the town, you can reach the so-called Roman houses, the remains of Roman constructions dating back to the XNUMXth century AD, some of them attributable to an ancient cult of water. A Christian cult building with an immersion baptismal font was also recently discovered, probably built between the sixth and seventh centuries AD (at the moment it was covered to prevent it from deteriorating). In the same area as the Roman Houses there is also one  small rural church from the Norman period (XNUMXth-XNUMXth century) built by the Greek-speaking Basilian monks. The church is consecrated and is still used mainly for weddings. The view over the village from here is magnificent! At the entrance to the site there is also a source of drinking water (one of many scattered on the island).

Boat trips around the island to discover all the caves and coves

The boat is the best way to explore the island but if you are looking for something more than a boatman who will show you the caves and make you take a bath with the stopwatch in hand .. I have the right man for you! Jokes aside, Pietro Cavasino di Visit Marettimo he is a person as there are few around now. Marettimaro by birth, Pietro has also worked a lot abroad and knows how the world travels but no one can touch his island. Go around the island with him and you will definitely want to go back! Pietro knows every single stone on the island, every story, every legend and manages to maneuver his boat as if it were a tricycle. You can contact him by email: [email protected] or by tel. 3488102186.

Il full tour of the island lasts 4 hours and includes the visit of 9 caves by boat (including the beautiful Caves of the Camel and Grotta Presepe) and 2 others that can be reached by swimming; during the tour we stop often and willingly to swim (on the boat there is also all the equipment for snorkeling). The tour can be done either in the morning from 11 to 15, or in the afternoon from 15:30 to 18:00 (cost: 20 euros per person). Then there is a third tour that leaves at 18:30 pm to go and see the sunset on the wilder side of the island, under the lighthouse of Punta Libeccio, in front of an aperitif with controfiocchi. You then return to the port around 22:30 pm, often indulging in a last swim illuminated only by the moon (cost: 30 euros per person; you can also book the whole boat for private use). In this regard, Pietro also organizes private parties on boat or on land with bonfires for special events / parties.

More boat trips you can do by contacting Visit Marettimo are at Favignana and Levanzo, departing shortly after sunrise and returning at sunset (with time to go down to both islands), the shuttle service to Punta Troia (Castle - 10 € / pax) or on other areas of the island on request (you can, for example, be dropped off / picked up on a specific beach on the island).

If you are able to bring a boat, you can also rent a gozzo and move independently but, being a Marine Park, there are areas (zone A) in which only local boatmen are allowed to moor (the others must go to 1 mile and a half from the coast). Those who come by boat from outside can moor at buoys only in zone B.

Trekking

If there is one thing that I did not expect before coming to Marettimo it is the presence of many (and beautiful) hiking trails. On the island there are at least 10 trekking itineraries of varying length and difficulty. The trails are well marked and well maintained (thanks to the work of the Forestry Corps) and allow you to reach various panoramic points such as Pizzo Falcone (686 meters, the highest point on the island), the Lace Telegraph (or Traffic light, 500 mt) o Punta Basano (perfect point to see the sunrise!), but also the faro of Punta Libeccio, the Roman Houses and the castle of Punta Troia itself.

Punta Libeccio lighthouse

Il lighthouse of Marettimo it is located on the west coast of the island, near Punta Libeccio, a promontory 24 meters above sea level. Built in 1860, it is 50 meters high and was made entirely of stone. Since 1955 its lantern has been equipped with first-class Fresnel lenses, of Swedish manufacture, making it the second most important lighthouse in Italy after the Genoa Lantern. The lighthouse has a light range of 36 miles and its light intertwines with that of the Capo Bono lighthouse in Tunisia. Inside lived the lighthouse Ventura until 1999, until the lighthouse was automated, since then the structure is in a state of neglect. It's a shame because if it were refurbished it could have great tourist potential. To reach it there is a 6 km path that starts from the town and passes through the town of Carcaredda.

Museum of the sea

Il Museum of the Sea, Activities, Maritime Traditions and Emigration it is a small museum managed byCSRT Association "Marettimo" with the aim of preserving the ethno-anthropological heritage of the island. The museum exhibits fishing gear (ancient pots, hooks, nets), beautiful vintage photographs, books, publications and historical documents that tell the "art of fishing". Here is kept the story of the many fishermen of the island who emigrated to distant lands between the late 800s and early 900s (especially Portugal, North Africa and America) and still today there are large communities of marettimari in Monterey, San Francisco and San Pedro, near Los Angeles, where marettimari settled for sardine fishing. It is also thanks to them that, within a few years, Monterey Bay became the first American fishing port. From there they then began to move further north to Alaska for salmon fishing. This small museum dedicated to the memory of the community of Marettimo is truly a gem and you can spend hours listening to the passionate tales of Vito Vaccaro, the curator of the Museum. Here you will also find the updated guides of the island and the maps with the trails. The museum is located in front of the restaurant "Il Pirata", contact the association to be sure to find it open (tel. 0923-923000 or [email protected]). Free admission.

The CSRT “Marettimo” association also organizes various events such as dawn concerts on the Roman Houses and thematic exhibitions.

Where to go swimming in Marettimo: the beaches and coves

Let's face it right away, if you are the kind of person looking for fine sandy beaches you are in the wrong place and the Egadi Islands are not for you. If you are looking for small beaches, coves or caves with Caribbean water..you are in the right place!

Starting from the Castle and going around the island from the north, the best places to swim are:

  • Master stop (under Punta Troia): small beach reachable by foot in 1h30 'from the town
  • Lebanon (after the Pipa cave): small beaches that appear and disappear according to the winds, can only be reached by sea
  • Punta Libeccio / Cala Nera (under the lighthouse): can only be reached by sea
  • Cretazzo (this year it is reduced to the bone): it can be reached on foot in about 2h with a path
  • Zotta Muletti (also known as the Pozza dei Cefali): a cove with comfortable rocks. You can get there on foot from la Carcaredda
  • Cala Conca: can only be reached by boat
  • Cala Finocchio Marino: can only be reached by boat
  • Praia dei Nacchi (so named in honor of a historic family from Marettimo): it can be reached on foot from the village in 20 '
  • New stop: the town beach, next to the port

Where to eat in Marettimo

  • The Ladder: the gourmet restaurant on the island led by chef Giovanni .. the menu is fixed and he decides it based on the catch of the day. La Scaletta overlooks the Scalo Nuovo and is also the meeting point for the evenings. In summer, every evening there are DJ sets or live music.
  • The sailing ship: at the helm there is a family of fishermen and the freshness of the fish is not in question. Classic dishes of Sicilian / Trapani cuisine.
  • The pirate: nice and well-kept restaurant near the Scalo Vecchio. Excellent fish cuisine (very fresh)!
  • Al Carubbo : specialized in fish first courses (but not only), this restaurant is located slightly above and in the middle of the green and has a beautiful sea view. They also make pizza.

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
  • Favignana: the beaches, where to sleep and where to eat
  • Levanzo: how to reach it, what to see and where to sleep
  • 10 beautiful farmhouses with swimming pool in Sicily
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