Favignana, Sicily, and the caves of Favignana

Photo of Favignana (Sicily region)

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Visit Favignana

The Sicilian island of Favignana is the largest of the 'Isole Egadi' group of islands to the west of Sicily, and has more facilities and accommodation than the other islands in the group, so makes a good base for exploring. Most visitors are on day trips from Trapani, so the island is much quieter in the evening than during the day time in summer.

Explore Favignana

The most popular activities on Favignana are exploring the harbour town, spending some time on one of the small beaches, and following one of the paths (on foot or by bike) that explore the island. The most popular beach is at Lido Burrone, about a 10 minute walk from the port. The island also has a long tradition of tuna fishing, and you will find many tuna products available in the shops and restaurants.

Favignana town is a pretty town with a simple charm. Its houses are mostly white with blue shutters and the town spreads right round the bay and harbour. It is very picturesque. The centre of the town is pedestrianised and is perhaps at its busiest for the evening passeggiata when the locals take a pre-dinner stroll and catch up with their neighbours.

Favignana harbour

Whilst in Favignana town a visit to the tuna museum is well worth a trip. It is right on the sea edge and has some lovely views and buildings as well as details of the local tuna industry and Mattanza festival.

There is also the Underwater Archaeological Museum of Favignana. This museum is located in the cottage of the Florio and organized with panels and captions, graphics and reconstructions that enable the public to follow the history of the Aegadian Islands in videos. See also Favignana history and etymology.

A particularly interesting part of the museum is dedicated to local finds such as lead and lytic anchors, and Greek-Italic amphorae from the Hellenistic and late Punic-Roman age.

A trip around the coast of Favignana reveals many beautiful views and it is popular with walkers and cyclists. After exploring the coast head towards the interior of the island The landscape of Mediterranean bush covers vast areas of the island with thistles, prickly pear and agaves which give the landscape a unique charm.

Around Favignana it was historically the tufa (a local soft rock) that provided the local industry, both in Roman times and then from the 17th century on, since when it has been much used as building material. Hence you will also see several ancient quarries on Favignana.

Because of this local geology there are numerous tufa caves here, such as the coastal caves of Saint Nicola, which are now a tourist attraction. Other coastal caves in south-east Favignana include the Grotta Perciata and Cala Azzurra, each of considerable beauty.

Favignana scenery

These caves are amongst the main attractions of a visit to Favignana. They were only properly explored in recent years and important finds have been discovered that date back to the Punic age (the Punic culture originated in Carthage around 800 BC). The caves are important both for their scenic value and for their historic importance. See Favignana caves and inscriptions for details of the inscriptions to be seen in the caves.

Favignana island also has a fort on Mount Saint Catherine, the hill that dominates the view of the island as you approach and from where you can enjoy a panoramic view of the countryside, the port and the tufa caves. A part of the fort dates from the Phoenician era, as well as parts of Roman origin and some mosaics of Roman imperial origin near the Cave of St. Nicholas. The castle is abandoned but it is worth the climb for the views. It takes about 45 minutes to walk to the top.

Your trip to Favignana should include a visit to a restaurant to enjoy one of the many typical dishes of the region. Tuna is of course a regional speciality, reflected in many of the recipes - these include tuna steaks, sausages, and meatballs or tuna grilled and mixed with potatoes. If you prefer to enjoy the typical cuisine of the Aegadian Islands, we suggest the lobster and the couscous, very widely available on Favignana.

Around the Favignana coast

A boat trip around the coast of Favignana allows you to explore the sea caves, and the beaches (of both sand and rock). For those who love diving there are also many schools equipped for sport diving on the island of Favignana.

Although not beaches two of the most popular parts of the coast are Cala Rosso where a rocky bay circles the magnificent turquoise waters. It is beautiful and a short bike ride from Favignana town. Also the Cala Bue Marino which is another rocky bay made beautiful in combination with the turquoise sea. Some of the rock has been cut away leaving openings into the rock. This is on the eastern end of the island.

The Mattanza 'festival'

The long tradition of tuna fishing is still celebrated here each May with the Mattanza. This involves lots of boats together laying a large net to surround the tuna, then slowly reducing the net area until the tuna are all held close together in the so-called 'chamber of death'. From here the fishermen spear the tuna and drag them into the boats.

The Mattanza festival is now a tourist attraction but be warned it is rather brutal!

Where is Favignana?

The island of Favignana is situated just off the westernmost tip of Sicily (from Trapani and Marsala) - more precisely, it is part of a small group of islands that includes Favignana itself, Marettimo and Levanzo, which together form the largest part of the Aegadian islands.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.

See also:

Map of Favignana and places to visit

Places to visit near Favignana

Levanzo

Levanzo

Explore the lovely white-washed houses around the harbour of Levanzo.

Levanzo guide

Marsala

Marsala

Marsala is of course famous for its wine but also has an interesting historic centre.

Marsala guide

Trapani

Trapani

Trapani has an interesting old town with historic buildings dating from the 14th to the 20th century.

Trapani guide

Paceco

Paceco

Visit the Salt Works Natural Reserve of Paceco which with its windmills and canals looks like a little bit of Holland!

Paceco guide

Erice

Erice

Visit the splendid hilltop town of Erice with its ancient walls, castle and churches.

Erice guide

Mazara-del-Vallo

Mazara-del-Vallo

With pretty streets and harbour Mazara del Vallo has plenty to explore.

Mazara-del-Vallo guide