The spell-binding islands of Lampedusa and Linosa are part of the Pelagian Islands, a small archipelago situated south of Sicily. In fact, this island group is renowned for its close proximity to Africa and despite its Italian heritage, the North African influence can be seen and felt in the architecture, cuisine and the very atmosphere. This combination of cultures has created a pair of exotic and enticing destinations, floating serenely in the heavenly blue of the Mediterranean Sea.
These two islands offer a a tranquil holiday of pure isolation out of season, but during the summer season of May through to September, an influx of visitors make the journey to the islands for the shimmering, pure white shores; vivid jewel-toned seas and scorching temperatures. However, it is only during the heights of the season in July and August that these islands get crowded – visit outside these times if you really want to experience a quieter version of paradise.
Just 3 kilometres (about 2 miles) wide and 12 kilometres (about 7 miles) long,
Lampedusa may be small in size but it more than makes up for its stature in charm. The natural beauty of this island is famous throughout Sicily and Italy alike – the soft, white sands and azure waters would not look out of place in the Caribbean. Swimming, sunbathing and exploring gentle nature trails are the key activities on beautiful Lampedusa.
There are a variety of glorious beaches, ranging from the famous, touristy beaches to hidden coves, known only by locals. Hiring a scooter makes for an excellent way to explore the island on your own timetable and discover secret beaches on your own. Most of the bays offer great swimming with gentle waves, suitable for snorkelling and families with young children.
Alternatively, organise a trip to the nearby I’Isolotto dei Conigli, the famous ‘Island of the Rabbits’. Although only a few of these furry creatures reside there now, this stunning island is notorious for its mesmerising beaches – ideal for a day trip and a picnic lunch. Visit during the week to enjoy the island enveloped in solitude.
Dive into an underwater kingdom
Diving in the sea surrounding Lampedusa is an experience not to be missed. The crystalline waters are rich in a variety of marine life and there are dive shops on the island where you can rent equipment or hire instructors. Look out for the caretta turtles that visit the area to lay their eggs in a protected bay.
In terms of cuisine, foodies will find themselves in seafood heaven on Lampedusa’s shores. The island often plays host to Italy’s largest fishing fleet, based at Mazzara del Vallo on the Sicilian mainland. In fact, the island has a long history with denizens of the sea – Lampedusa was once a notorious pirate haunt. As with any of the islands in this region, the seafood is exquisite and super fresh. Enjoy spicy stews, succulent fish and a variety of Sicilian specialities which pull together influences from North Africa, Greece and Spain, thanks to the various invaders who have conquered Sicily over the years.