I owe the Travelers Century Club and their list big time for introducing me to Lampedusa which is the last volcanic island in the Mt. Etna chain and the southernmost island in the Mediterranean belonging to Europe. It is in fact administered by Italy and in considered a part of Sicily but is hardly so in reality. It is actually situated between Libya and Tunisia in the Mediterranean Sea and has more recently become famous for the political maelstrom caused by the thousands of illegal African refuges attempting to flee poverty to European shores. The solution of which has not really been come up with as the Italian Government apparently detains them at a detention center on the Eastern side of the island where there is nothing to see but barbed wire and a military zone that doesn’t allow photographs to be taken. Lampedusa is said to be Africa’s last gift to Europe-so to speak.
Lampedusa is a gorgeous, sparsely populated island that has some extremely gorgeous beaches and brings with it the tastes of Sicily. It is a popular holiday spot for Sicilians and Italians in general although transportation to the island leaves a little to be desired as there are two small flights per day, which we were fortunate enough to get on and two back but they are always full in the summer so we are currently on a ferry back to mainland Sicily to Porto Empedocle after a quick stop on the neighboring island of Linosa.
The beaches again are the main draw to Lampedusa and Isola dei Conigli does not disappoint. The beach is situated in a tucked away rocky canyon where you have to walk about a mile from the road down a steep hill. The view of the beach and the island and the neighboring bay are fabulous as they all come into view about 100 meters up above the beach. Conigli is a perfect fit for the terrain and is surrounded on all sides by rocky mountains which lead to relatively calm waters and perfect white sand. The area around the island is also good for snorkeling although it was particularly windy the day we were there so we didn’t go but you could clearly tell it would be nice.
Our second day was spent at the beach at Cala Croce as they offered more touristy type accommodations such as umbrellas for me to hide from the sun as I stupidly allowed myself to burn like a 10 year old would. But the scenery was perfect and the pool-like water was great to get out of the scorching heat. This was more of a family beach in contrast to its neighbor Conigli which was more of a hip beach with many of the beach goers being of the topless variety. I won’t even go into the horror of European, especially Italian, men and their little speedo type bathing suits which if you’ve been to Europe-you know how awful it can be, haha.
We stayed at an awesome place called La Roccia which was originally a campground but has since developed into a great backpacker paradise style hotel. It has bungalows, chalets and apartments along with the camping on-site as well. The owners of the campground are especially helpful and very nice. They helped us with some great recommendations and with renting scooters which I highly recommend and it is the best way to get around the island as it gives you the freedom to go around the entire 11km of the island without any trouble. Just don’t ride down the main street Via Roma, as I did and get stopped by the Carabinieri. I managed to get out of a ticket but nonetheless, park to the side and just walk the main road in town.
On Via Roma there are countless little stores and restaurants selling all types of Lampedusa souvenirs. The only thing they are missing is aloe. As I am so burned right now, all I wanted was some aloe but the Italians would never dream of offering such a thing as they are a sun worshipping people who cannot possibly be tan enough.
All in all, I had an amazing time in Lampedusa and would recommend it to anyone to visit. The place was beautiful, had great food, accommodations, people and it was the way island life should be-very relaxed. We didn’t want to leave but we are off to Agrigento and Catania in Sicily.