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Linosa is one of the Pelagian islands, a group of islands a long way south of Sicily. Linosa (and the other Pelagian islands) are above all visited for the beautiful coastline and the exceptional diving opportunities offered by the clear waters.
The island is only about five square kilometres in size, so won't take you very long to explore, with much of the island scenery away from the shore dominated by the extinct volcanoes and the areas of volcanic rock.
Linosa: a Paradise for Lovers of Scuba Diving
Today the current population of Linosa consists of about 200 inhabitants, and the resources of the island are mainly based on agriculture, farming and now tourism, which has increased the revenue of the islanders in recent years. The harbour and town, to the south of the island, owes as much to African architecture as Italian, with small flat-roofed houses painted in bright and pastel colours.
A little out-of-the-way with regard to major tourist destinations, Linosa is an island worth visiting and is popular with tourists who enjoy hiking, scuba diving, and walking. There are three extinct volcanoes on the island, and beaches of black volcanic sand.
In fact it is an island suitable for all visitors, given the accessibility of its coasts and the warm but windy climate. The main places worth a leisurely visit on Linosa are the “Scoglio del Lampione," the "Cala Pozzolana di Ponente", and “Punta Beppe Tuccio”, where diving is possible; the “Faraglioni” on the east coast and “Cala dei Fili”, with its white sea-sand.
Linosa is rightly seen as a “paradise” for lovers of scuba diving, and offers several opportunities. This is because the seas of Linosa fall quickly to great depths and just a small distance from the coast they reach a depth over 300 meters.
Over the years a fairly basic tourist infrastructure has been created on the island, including a diving club. Some Conservation Groups have also created an institution called “Hydrosphera”, which cares for the sea turtles called “Caretta Caretta” near Pozzolana Cala di Ponente and allows them to lay their eggs on the beach in a protected environment.
There are also now apartments and bungalows for rent on Linosa, two holiday villages and camping, although the only town is situated around the small harbor. From here you can make excursions on foot or by boat.
Eating out on Linosa
Linosa is well worth a visit not only for its landscape but also to sample the traditional food, which is based on some of the most typical dishes of Sicily. In the restaurants of Linosa you can always eat fresh fish, and also some traditional foods among which you should try the lentil soup, couscous, and the 'salad of Linosa”, a typical Mediterranean main course.
Linosa: a brief history of an uninhabited island
Like all the Pelagian Islands, Linosa has almost always been deserted, as related in various stories across the centuries. I have included these as much for entertainment as for useful information...
Stefano Sommier wrote "[...]Captain Smyth...found it deserted in the beginning of the last century; he did not find any large mammal, and for this reason he introduced a few goats and some rabbits...Gussone in 1828 found it deserted, but saw that the goats left by Smyth had multiplied so much that he estimated the number of them at about 200, and the rabbits were already in such abundance that one could not take a step without seeing many of them [...]".
Linosa was still without inhabitants in 1844, when Salvisente, the Lieutenant Governor of Lampedusa, visited it...
"[...] Its settlement dates from 1845 when, by order of King Ferdinand of Bourbon, 30 men from Agrigento landed here, including a deputy of health, a doctor and a priest. The settlers built a warehouse, a church and a house. In 1846, when Calcara visited Linosa, the number of its inhabitants was 85, and in 1847 they were 115...
...I found the population of this island slightly progressed at the time of my first visit in 1873. The only brick buildings were still a church, a warehouse and the house occupied by Dr. Buonadonna, the head of the colony and representative of the Government, who also held the posts of captain of the port, deputy maior, lawyer, doctor and pharmacist. The settlers lived miserably in troglodyte caves carved from the tufa. The same situation was found by the captain of Albertis in 1876...
...Since then, however, with the assistance of the Government some small and modest houses were constructed, and now the caves serve as a stable for animals and storage. The homes are grouped in a small village south of the island. On the opposite (north-east) side a lighthouse was built. The islanders, now number about 250 and all are farmers (Stefano Sommier, " The Pelagian Islands" , Florence, 1908: 173 ff.).
Linosa has only had its own supply of fresh water since 1983 when a desalinisation plant was built.
See also Linosa history and etymology.
Where is Linosa?
Linosa is one of the Pelagian islands, situated far off the southern coast of Sicily (the island is geographically closer to Africa than Italy). The principal island in the group, Lampedusa, receives more visitors than Linosa and is about an hour away by boat.
You can find more local travel ideas in the Sicily guide.