Not been quite impressed with Sicily the first time, I decided to give it another try, another time and another place. Learning from my mistakes I was definitely going off the season to escape the crowds and looking for a more remote corners of Sicily. Favignana is the biggest of the three Egadian islands (Favignana, Levanzo and Marettimo) on the Western coast of Sicily and might as well hold the title of Miss Azure Coast as it has such a beautiful color sea that even Sardinia’s better part looks pale in the shadow of Favignana. Island is famous for its tuna fishing history, calcarenite rock formations that looks like stacked up tile skyscrapers and ‘Favonian’ winds, which by the way the island is named after. The two minuses going to Favignana off-season is gamble with the weather and seaweed – naturally there is a lot of it on the beaches, which gets cleaned daily during the season, but not at the end of the May, leaving some of them completely covered.
This is probably the longest I have ever traveled to the beach as it took us 2 days, two flights, bus ride, 40 minutes drive with hydrofoil on a really choppy sea and a half an hour walk till we finally got there ( or I just wanted to make it more complicated as during the summer there are direct flights to Trapani from London). Best and the only way to this tiny island 7km off Sicilian coast is by hydrofoil from Trapani port which now operates regularly and makes the islands accessible to the guests and locals. There is limited chance of getting here by car as there is only one ferry a day that takes cars on board, which makes your stay in Favignana more healthy as everybody cycles or scooters.
Already arriving at the port of Favignana you will get the first glimpse of what is the entire island is about – tiny white sandy bays washed up with azure blue sea. There are not many sandy beaches, but the one’s you’ll find will be picture perfect. Favignana is butterfly shaped, which makes it actually not so small, I wish I could have managed to explore “both wings” of the butterfly, but I had a pleasure to see the highlights on the northern side of the island.
Right in the center of the town, the same beach you saw when arriving at port is 5 minutes walk from the main square. Old tuna canning factory on the left side of the beach is now converted into a tuna fishing museum and from the outside looks like uber cool London art gallery. The view is completed with Monte Santa Caterina mountain topped with a fort still used by Italian military which is not open to public. Beach is sandy with azure blue waters, there is a small bar and restaurant by the beach, so you can enjoy the sun, sea and Italian food and you can walk to this beach every morning if you stay in the town.
The most famous sight of the island is Cala Rossa, large moon shaped bay enclosed by cities of calcarenite rock statues overlooking Levanzo island. Named after the battle that took place in 210 BC, which washed out so many dead Phoenicians it was called Red Cove. To reach this spectacular site follow road signs from the town, and follow the dirt path till you reach sign of ‘no entry’ and small wooden desk that says ‘Cala rossa’. Road to the bay is closed to cars, but some scooters and cyclist break the rules passing the sign and parking almost at the beach (there is a parking for cars little bit further down the road). You can walk down to the water from the entrance of the beach, but there are no sandy patches so you will have to lie on the rocks. There is a man with a van making sandwiches and selling refreshments on the top of the cliff and he promises free wi-fi, which as usually is just a marketing trick ( as his car battery died and it doesn’t work).
Another place with the caves of calcarenite rock, is Bue Marino, which is very close to the Cala Azzuro (see next), here the sea is deeper with deeper blue patches mixed with azure color spots. Again, you best mates here will be rocks and sea, no services around, so prep yourself before you get there. Easy to reach from Cala Azzura side, following the road to lighthouse and making few meters further down the dirt path.
Just one of the several sandy beaches, Cala azzura actually has two white sandy bays and it is located on the northwest side of the island, easier to reach by road from the Favignana by following the signs it has a little parking space and a serviced poolside area on the top of the cliffs (not open in May). Sadly one of the beaches was completely covered in seaweed, so I think it has plenty of potential in the summer, when the beach is cleaned. Water has the same magical azure color and beach has soft white sand. No restaurants or bars around, quite remote wild and magical in its own way.
My personal favorite, also closest to the city was the Cala Burrone beach. Longest, widest and cleanest from the seaweed. This was the only fully services beach I found on the island, with umbrellas, sunbeds and even free WI-FI (if you order something in the bar), so you can instantly upload your selfies from the beach. It has not one but two restaurants, the sea is fantastic color, beach is super white sand and it was real shame it was too cold to swim. Two ways to get here, either follow the coastal road from Cala Azzuro or take the road from the town, now here I won’t be a good advisor as we took this road only on the way back from the beach to the town.
How to get there?
If there is a chance get a flight to Trapani, going off the season ment flying through Rome. Alternatively Palermo airport is not a bad idea as it’s only 70km away, with Ryanair bus connecting to Trapani airport. Once you land in Trapani airport take the AST bus just outside the terminal to port (http://www.aziendasicilianatrasporti.it 4.90 EUR/pp) and it will take bloody 45 minutes to get you to the port. Or as I found out later, you can take a shuttle (private hire) for just a little bit more (http://www.trapaniairportbus.com/index_eng.html EUR 7.50/pp ) you can get an air condition Mercedes Vito van and a very polite local Sicilian driver taking you from airport to/from port in just 25 minutes, showing off local landmarks and talking about wine. There are two main ferry companies that operate the route to all 3 islands, Ustica (www.usticalines.it) and Siremar (www.siremar.it). Ustica seemed to be more popular with nice looking boats and more frequent schedule.
Where to stay?
I would definitely suggest staying in apartment in Favignana, you will find plenty of them around the town and island (we stayed at Il Gelsomnio apartments, but as they needed 2 days to arrange wi-fi password, I kind of wouldn’t suggest them). If there is a chance try to stay as close to the town as you can, as there is little civilization outside Favignana, and town center full of little bars for evening aperativo (read free food) and plenty of good and not so good restaurants. Hotels I found were either dated or quite far from the town, which would basically mean eating at hotel restaurants every night.
Where to eat?
As much as I love Italian food, in Sicily it just doesn’t taste the same. We hit a couple of average restaurants which would be a shame to recommend. We went to sister restaurant of Sotto Sale, which apparently is really good modern twist to traditional Italian kitchen, but unfortunately we were left quite disappointed, I guess you have to try the real deal, just book a table in advance. There are a couple of great aperativo bars making excellent cocktails and bringing free food, so don’t miss those.