Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Ustica Island

Ferry landing in Ustica.

Maybe not many people know that Ustica Island is just the summit of an ancient volcano that rises from a 2000 meters deep seafloor. Located 35 miles offshore, north of Palermo, it tooks few hours with the ferry to get there.
Lunch at La Cernia Bruna.

Grotte del Lapillo (cave).
Hut of Mt. Guardia dei Turchi.

The downhill.
The view of the village
from Mt. Guardia dei Turchi.

The first day of our weekend on the island is dedicated to a short exploration of the center of the island, with the climbing to the top of Mt. Guardia dei Turchi. From the top of the extinct crater the view cover the entire island perimeter, including the large flat area on the north side, with the remains of a Bronze Age prehistoric village. 
On the way down we pass the Lapillo Cave, an old pumice mine and than straight to a pizzeria.
Clockwise circumnavigation.

A view of the little harbour.

Sunday morning weather forecasts give winds picking up from south-west in the afternoon. Our choice is to explore the south coastline and the marine caves in the morning, to be safe and happy on the north side at the time the wind will blow hard.
We get at the southwesternmost tip of the island just at the start of the wind and some big waves are already formed, enough to require an accurate route for a safe enter into the small rocky bay under the lighthouse, avoiding rocks and breakers.

 On the north coastline we enjoyed the flat and ultra-clear waters, paddling very close to the rocky shore and visiting three more caves in the vicinity of the prehistoric village. Only the last 500 meters were a bit exposed to the SW wind, now blowing at 15 knots, but even the beginners were able to slowly manage this last effort.
 Offshore the sea was between force 3 and 4 and the ferry was shaken by the waves on his way back to Palermo on the mainland. Now we know that the following day the ferry did not faced the rough sea for the increased wind force: this precarious connection to the mainland contribute to save the charme of a true, isolated island.