Location & Mythology
Ustica Island, 70 km north of Palermo, is the emerged peak of an underwater volcano, Mount Anchise, 2000 meters high and built a million years ago. For variety of volcanoes the island is an open-air volcanology museum. The ancient geographers and historians called it Ustica, that is, the relict of an extinct volcano (Ustum = burned). For the Greeks it was Osteodes = “ossuary or island of bones”, for the human remains of a Carthaginian deportation of mercenary soldiers, mutineers who died here from hunger and thirst. Or, according to mythology, the bones of the unfortunate sailors who were enchanted by the bewitching voice of the sirens, sitting on the heights overlooking the sea, and whose melodious song made unwary sailors lose their minds, who ended up crashing against jagged rocks. But “The island of Bones” also refers to the identification, by some scholars, of the island of Ustica with the island of Eéa, the solitary home of the powerful sorceress Circe, who transformed sailors who dared to approach it into animals.
NATURE, HISTORY, SPORT & RELAX
The Passage of the Mediterranean Civilizations
The numerous archaeological remains are of great interest. The first human settlement dates back to the Paleolithic era, important excavations have returned the early Christian village of the Faraglioni with dozens of huts, dating back to the Middle Bronze Age (1450-1250 BC). A vast Roman necropolis with pit and underground tombs is at the Falconiera; remains of Roman farms and a multitude of archaeological finds found in various parts of the island and underwater, visible at the Archaeological Museum. Strategic point for trade and commerce, Ustica saw the Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians and Romans pass by. It was the base of the Saracen raids and only at the time of Ferdinand IV, King of the Two Sicilies, was it decided to build a series of fortifications around the island that would allow the colonists to work peacefully. The Bourbons built two watchtowers, and in 1759 Ferdinand of Bourbon imposed a progressive colonization, creating the conditions for the development of a small and stable community, which today has about 1,300 inhabitants. But Ustica was also a place of deportation: the Bourbons confined political prisoners there, as did the Savoy and the fascists. Antonio Gramsci, Parri, Rosselli and Romita also stayed there. Then in 1961, due to popular uprising, the confinement was abolished and replaced with the most profitable and qualifying tourism.
HISTORY & ARCHEOLOGY
Strolling through the narrow streets of the center is extremely fascinating for the gallery of murals that decorate the facades of the houses, for the sensations and scents that bring you back to the past along the way along the houses, in front of which typical products with forgotten flavors are displayed. In the restaurants, in addition to the excellent fish and the flavors of Sicilian cuisine, do not miss the small and typical lentils with a very particular flavor. In the evening, in the square, it is a must to taste the granitas, the Sicilian cassata, the cannoli and the incomparable cassatelle and the giggi, traditional and exclusive sweets of the island.
THE SQUARE & THE MURALES
The sea and its beauties
The beauty of the seabed and the uncontaminated terrestrial nature, despite the minimum distance that separates it from Palermo, make Ustica almost distant, still in time and fascinating. The exceptional clarity and transparency of its waters allow everyone, with mask and fins, to fully enjoy its submerged treasures. The seabed, decorated with branches of gorgonians, sponges and multicolored encrustations, are set by sudden dry and fascinating caves, and populated by every typical species of the Mediterranean for which Ustica, a Protected Marine Area since 1986, is the ideal habitat. The particular morphology of the seabed of the island allows divers of any level of preparation a great variety of dives. Diving in the splendid waters of Ustica is a unique and unrepeatable experience in the Italian seas. Already in the first meters below the surface you can meet large groupers, white breams, amberjacks, barracudas, clouds of shrimps and witness spectacular plays of light, shadows and colors. There are more than thirty dives that can be made in Ustica, and in particular those at the “Scoglio del Medico“, the “Secca della Colombara“, the “Grotta dei Gamberi” and the “Sicchitello” have made the island deserve the nickname of “Paradise of the Sub“.
Ustica and the Natural Reserves
PROTECTED MARINE AREA – First in Italy, it is divided into three zones: zone A of integral reserve where, in some areas, bathing is allowed, a unique opportunity to familiarize yourself with the fish that have learned not to fear man; zone B underwater photography and sport fishing with stationary and tow lines are allowed; zone C all forms of sport fishing are allowed except underwater fishing. An absolutely unique and original experience consists in following the underwater archaeological itinerary, the first in the world: at a depth between 10 and 25 meters an Ariadne’s thread guides the visit to the finds, ancient amphorae and anchors, directly in the sites of tempering.
TERRESTRIAL ORIENTED NATURE RESERVE – Rich in Mediterranean vegetation, a forest of conifers, oaks and chestnuts, and fauna of small rodents and especially birdlife. Signposted footpaths facilitate the exploration of the island, ideal for trekking, hiking, MTB and bird watching. Walking through the greenery along the paths of the grove is an experience full of charm and mystery. Walking along the paths of the coast, on foot or with the donkey, now on the edge of a cliff, now on the gentle decline of the lava descending to the sea, picking a caper flower, observing numerous species of migratory birds, arouses intense emotions.
TREKKING, MTB & BIRDWATCHING
The studios are rented with a short tourist lease without the provision of personal services (Article 4 of Legislative Decree 50 \ 2017).