Although Capri and Ischia are undoubtedly beautiful island destinations, unless you want to spend your summer shoulder-to-shoulder with flocks of tourists, there’s a more remote island that’s slowly becoming the secret hideaway of those in the know, Pantelleria.
Also known as “the black pearl of the Mediterranean”, this under-the-radar Italian island—where Luca Guadagnino shot his iconic 2015 film A Bigger Splash—has remained under wraps. Literally caught between Europe and Africa (it is actually closer to Tunisia than it is to Sicily), Pantelleria is even unspoiled by Italians themselves (but Giorgio Armani has returned every summer for more than 40 years).
Neighboring islands might seem to overshadow Pantelleria, but this secret island has a uniquely rich history, defined by a succession of fascinating cultures: Phoenicians, Romans, Carthaginians and pirates. Arabic was the official spoken language at some point, with “Pantelleria” having been derived from “Bent El Rhia”, which means “Daughter of Wind”.
Only a few hours in Pantelleria is enough to sense that the way of life is heavily influenced by the ancient presence of Arabs. The atmosphere is laid-back, time goes slowly and the meal de rigueur is none other than couscous. The Arabic gardens of vines and capers bring a poetic freshness to the island’s dramatically rough and rugged landscape, filled with all-black volcanic rocks and dammusi, the white local houses with dome-shaped roofs.
Pantelleria feels remote, reclusive and more importantly – truly desolate. Whether you’re the adventurous or lazy type, it has everything you need. So forget big-hitting names this summer and indulge in a crowd-free Italian holiday.
Pantelleria Dream ResortThe island’s most popular hotel has all the amenities of a large hotel but feels far more intimate and cozy. Each room is an individual dammuso, which is great for those who want to feel tranquil and alone. The best part is the infinity pool offering a sublime panoramic view of the sparkling blue-green sea.
A suite with sea wiew start from €200 per night
Sikelia HotelIf a proper luxury retreat is what you have in mind, Sikelia is the best place to stay. The peaceful boutique hotel has drawn in creatives from across the world, with its simple elegance, impeccable service and meticulous attention to detail. Rooms are all unique, decorated with a slick, minimalist aesthetic, in shades of earth and sand. The swimming pool is perfect for relaxing in the sun. And to top it off, the restaurant and bars offer exquisite Mediterranean food and an outstanding wine selection. Ideal for those who want to escape the crowds, while enjoying rugged natural scenery in blissful serenity.
A double bedroom start from about €330 per night
If you want to have lunch with the locals with an unspoiled view of the sea, La Vela is perfect. The style is rustic and simple—the Sicilian way, with great pasta and fish.
L’officina di Costa GhirlandaThis idyllic wine bar and restaurant, literally nestled in the middle of sprawling vineyards, is one of the most beautiful gems on the island. Be sure to start pre-dinner and arrive at sunset for a wine tasting experience surrounded by a sweeping view.
Dive off the rocksPantelleria doesn’t have sandy beaches, but there are great swimming spots, and the best way to discover them is by boat. Putter along the rocky coast and explore the island’s countless secret coves. Don’t miss L’Arco dell’Elefante, Pantelleria’s iconic stone arch.
Take a mud bath in Lago di VenerePlan a dip in this lake formed in a volcanic crater, famed for its thermal waters and natural mud baths.
Shop ceramics at De Simone
Giovanni Di Simone, an artist famed for his unique style in the Italian ceramics scene, founded the brand ‘Ceramiche De Simone’ in the 1960’s. Head to his shop for hand-painted and vividly colourful home décor ceramics.