Marettimo, Sicily

© barboon –

Rocky from the sea, green inland. Angular and sheer, Marettimo is a spectacular mix of extreme vistas, a meeting place of sea and rock, a miniature mountain chain that rises from the depths of the sea.

Marettimo is not a place for everyone but you certainly won’t forget it in a hurry. There’s no way of knowing if it really was here and not in Ithaca that Odysseus the young wanderer was born but certainly the island is rocky enough to make it credible.

The main attractions of Marettimo are its high, steep cliffs which make for landscapes of rare beauty in the midst of its narrow bays and deep blue sea. There are many natural caves carved into the rocky coast as a result of the island’s karstic phenomena.

Grotta del Cammello with its iridescent green sea water, Grotta della Bombarda whose singular central limestone formation resembles a papal mitre and lastly Grotta del Presepio, unforgettable at sunset: these are the symbols of an island which is ideal for trekking in its rocky inland areas made up of rock faces as steep as those along the coast.

Footpaths take you to the over 700 metre high peaks of Marettimo worth the effort for the breathtaking panoramic views that, on a clear day give you views of the Sicilian Sea and Pantelleria making them the best vantage point for views of the Egadi archipelago.
Marettimo, the town

Apart from the little village of white tufa houses around the port, Marettimo is little inhabited and an entirely pedestrian island made up of protected forest areas belonging to the Egadi Park. The little castle of Punta Troia, a Saracen outpost used as a watch tower, is worth visiting.

From Scalo Vecchio a walk of around an hour and 45 minutes of even footpath takes you to a beautiful view of Scoglio del Cammello and Punta Troia. A winding road with cement walls climbs up to the castle perched improbably on a rocky spur with an air of instability. Punta Troia castle has also been a terrible Bourbon prison in the modern era. The ruined Roman houses which show that the island was an Roman outpost in the imperial era too are also worth a look.

Marettimo, beaches and access to the sea

Marettimo’s beaches are few and far between but very attractive. They are particularly popular for snorkelling and diving because of their flourishing marine flora and fauna. Perhaps Cala Bianca, surrounded by the sheer rocks of Punta Mugnone, is the most beautiful. It is a peaceful, secluded spot to relax in the sun on its fine white sandy beach and take a dip in the sea.

The pebble beach of Cala del Cammello, just a short distance from the Cammello cave, is less convenient but perhaps more evocative as a result of the light reflecting off the gravel on the sea bed. This is one of the most beautiful sections of coast on the island. Punta Bassana is a diver’s paradise. Leave the admittedly beautiful bay behind and make for the habitat of molluscs, posidonia, sponges and amberjack.