Il nostro amico e cliente Eric Sohl ci regala un vero e sincero ritratto di Pantelleria: lontano dagli stereotipi e dritto all’essenza di quest’isola. Grazie Eric sarai sempre il benvenuto qui.
An italian island closer to the African continent than to Europe? Couscous as part of the staple diet, rather than pasta? Does that exist? Yes, it does actually exist: Pantelleria.
Here are a couple of fast facts about Pantelleria: it’s located about 80 km from the Tunisian coast and on clear days you can see Capo Mustafà and even Capo Bon on the Kelibia penisula of Tunisia, it’s about 85 sq. km big , 836 m high, mostly green, rocky bays, very little beaches, lots of wind, rather dry and hot in summer, regular power black outs, expensive car hire, hardly any good hotels … so what’s the attraction here?
Well lots really.
We reached the island after a 45 minute plane trip from Palermo with a rather basic propeller plane and about 20 other passengers. And flying over nothing else but water, you then realise that Pantelleria is actually rather isolated. It’s literally in the middle of the Sicilian strait that forces deep currents between the south of Sicily and the Tunisian coast.
Buffeted by winds, even in August, the island is characterised by jagged lava stone, low-slung caper bushes, dwarf vines, steaming fumaroles and the famous azure blue lake with ‘therapeutic’ mud for a good body scrub.
So food-wise there’s everything you could want.
Firstly the arid but fertile black volcanic soil produces sun drenched vegetables and fruit, with a pure and intense taste. Try and find the local small stalls small villages dotted all over the island (for instance Rekale or in Pantelleria town itself) to get the local flavors, if not the imported produce from Sicily wont dissappoint either.
Secondly the island produces one of the finest desert wines on the plantet: Passito.
It’s an outstanding wine without the over-sweetness of syropy consistency of other desert wines. It has a exotically fruity, sometimes spicy tone and is refreshing as an aperitif or after dinner drink.
The third food ingredient which is grown on the pantellerian soil is capers. The plant grows all over the island, wild as much as in ‘cultivated’ patches. again manual picking is necessary here so the small morsels go for high prices. Especially the smaller one are most expensive and highly sought after. A D.O.C. for the capers has been put in place because of the essential link between the island and the caper.
Renting a house here is essential. And the best place to do that is with Giovanni at www.ildammuso.com